Russian Activist Accuses Chief Investigator of Secret European Holdings

New York Times

A Russian blogger and anticorruption activist who helped inspire street protests in Moscow last winter accused Russia’s chief federal investigator on Thursday of secretly owning real estate and other investments in Europe.

The allegation touched on the personal dealings of Aleksandr I. Bastrykin, a close aide to President Vladimir V. Putin and the director of the Investigative Committee, a high-level agency in the Russian government that coordinates criminal inquiries. It was apparently the most forceful retort yet by the opposition to a number of new laws strengthening the security services.

These laws, passed partly in response to the activism of the blogger, Aleksei A. Navalny, will be enforced by Mr. Bastrykin.

On his blog, Mr. Navalny provided documents indicating that Mr. Bastrykin has a residence permit and owns real estate in the Czech Republic.

Mr. Navalny wrote that the documents seemed to contradict Mr. Bastrykin’s denial of business interests abroad, which came in response to a parliamentary investigation in 2008.

Also, Mr. Navalny wrote, the real estate holding and residence permit in the Czech Republic, a country that is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an opposing military alliance, should raise questions about Mr. Bastrykin’s security clearance for work in law enforcement.

There was no immediate response from Mr. Bastrykin or his agency.

In his post, Mr. Navalny, who has gleefully thumbed his nose at a number of high-level Russian officials on his blog and become a popular figure in Russia as a result, repeatedly referred to Mr. Bastrykin as a “foreign agent” and “spy,” sarcastically mimicking accusations by Kremlin officials that the protesters have taken money from Western sources.

The Parliament, dominated by pro-government parties, passed a law this month requiring nongovernmental organizations receiving grants from abroad to register as foreign agents. The Parliament also passed a stringent libel law, and a law allowing courts to shut down Web sites that publish material deemed extremist.

Mr. Bastrykin is a loathed figure in the opposition as the chief investigator of activists accused of violating public meeting laws or other rules, and facing long prison sentences.

In a troubling episode for Russian media professionals, Mr. Bastrykin threatened to kill a journalist with the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta in June over an article that documented corruption in the handling of a murder case. Mr. Bastrykin later apologized, saying it was an emotional outburst.

Mr. Navalny is already under investigation by Mr. Bastrykin’s agency in a case unrelated to his opposition activities that Mr. Navalny says was trumped up to silence him.

In his post, Mr. Navalny argued that an investment abroad by a senior Russian national security official exposed him to potential blackmail by Western intelligence agencies, which could presumably cut off the flow of profits, if any, from the real estate investment.

“What do you think, the special services of NATO countries would not be aware that the deputy prosecutor general of Russia, a man with access to state secrets, applied to the Czech police for a residence permit?” he wrote.

“The man responsible for all investigations and the entire struggle against corruption is a swindler, a fraud and a foreign agent,” Mr. Navalny wrote.

The accusation touched a nerve for Russian secret service and military officials. Like others in the Russian elite, many own real estate or hold investments in Europe, where laws protecting property rights are stronger and family wealth can be retained.

A law now pending in the United States Congress would freeze these assets in some cases when officials were proved to have violated human rights in Russia. Russia has vowed to retaliate if the law, named for a lawyer who died in police custody, Sergei L. Magnitsky, passes. hairy woman займ на карту срочно без отказа https://zp-pdl.com/online-payday-loans-in-america.php https://www.zp-pdl.com быстрые займы онлайн

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