Letter From the Editors: May 16 - 22, 2016

Author: Xenia Grushetsky

Turf wars that bind: From a drug tsar’s downfall to a cemetery brawl

"Russian security [clans are] in many ways like a snake biting its own tail, sodden in corruption and racketeering," writes Mikhail Fishman, deftly summing up this week’s running theme - turf wars. The latest spat within the elite erupted on an unusual platform: Facebook. Sergei Ivanov, the now-former head of the recently disbanded Federal Narcotics Control Service, took to social media to express his disappointment over learning that his agency is no more. "I want to apologize that I couldn’t save our organization. We protected our national interests honestly," he wrote. Fishman points out that Ivanov, a close Putin associate from the Russian president’s St. Petersburg inner circle, broke the cardinal rule of Putin loyalism - never air your dirty laundry in public. Apparently, Ivanov failed to learn the lesson of his predecessor Viktor Cherkesov, who fell from Russia’s political Olympus for similar reasons.

Having replaced the disgraced Cherkesov back in the day, you’d think Ivanov would have taken note. But now, his agency has been absorbed by the Kremlin’s latest security services venture - the National Guard, headed by Viktor Zolotov. Zolotov will have his work cut out for him, however. According to Tatyana Stanovaya, the detective investigating the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov sent Zolotov a memo back when the latter was the chief of Russia’s Internal Troops. In it, the investigator states in no uncertain terms that Zolotov’s subordinates (i.e., Chechen Internal Troops officers) are "concealing evidence regarding their involvement in the high-profile murder." Stanovaya goes on to say that the brazen behavior of Chechen law enforcement - under the protection of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, naturally - ruffled some very serious feathers in the FSB. It’s not often that the FSB leaks information to the media - especially the opposition media, like Novaya gazeta. Several revelations that ...

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