Two Russian police chiefs absolved of abetting illegal gambling

Russian prosecutors overturned a decision to bring charges against two high-ranking police officials accused of receiving kickbacks from illegal gambling operators on Thursday, in what observers say is the latest episode of a behind-the-scenes war between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigative Committee.

Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin did not disclose why he decided to drop the case against Farit Temirgaliyev, chief of the Interior Ministry’s telecommunications crime department, and his deputy Mikhail Kulikov.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said the two men helped a number of regional prosecutors including Moscow Region Deputy Prosecutor Alexander Ignatenko hush up illegal gambling businesses, which generated up to $10 million in revenue every month.

Underground casinos have mushroomed across Russia since a law came into force in July 2009 banning gambling everywhere except in four remote zones.

The Kremlin announced plans in April to merge the Prosecutor General’s Office with the Interior Ministry, a move that would trim its authority.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said there was a “lack of balance” between his office and investigators but denied rumors of a “war.”

President Dmitry Medvedev said in April the prosecutors were the target of an “unacceptable” smear campaign by the Investigative Committee.

“Using the media to exert pressure on the investigation is unacceptable,” Medvedev said. “Those caught doing this will be sacked.”

MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti)

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