FSB searched Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister’s Office analysts speak about struggle among clans

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) officers detained country’s Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak last week in Moscow as his boss, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin left the country to attend an international conference of finance ministers in South Africa. Storchak was due to accompany Kudrin on the trip, The Moscow Times says. Storchak, one of three Kudrin’s deputies, will be charged with attempted large-scale embezzlement as part of an organized group, according to Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin who spoke on state television. Storchak will be charged by next week with attempting to embezzle $43.4 million from the federal budget, the Investigative Commitee said yesterday, according to The Moscow Times.
Storchak was detained on November 15, and the next day the FSB security service had searched his office in the Ministry of Finance.
The Moscow Times cites analysts saying that Storchak’s arrest could be a further sign of increasing clan warfare inside the Kremlin as President Vladimir Putin’s top aides fail to agree on a successor candidate for the March election. The high-profile arrest also comes just two weeks ahead of the December 2 State Duma elections as the leadership steps up its anti-corruption rhetoric. Several sources said more arrests were expected, and a person close to the investigation told Interfax that the attempted embezzlement had not been carried out fully.
“This is a struggle among the clans,” The Moscow Times is quoting Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank. “The Petersburg chekists have gone after the Petersburg liberals.” The campaign against Storchak is being led by the recently formed Investigative Committee, which is run under the auspices of the Prosecutor General’s Office but answers directly to the President. The arrests, carried out by the Federal Security Service on the orders of the Investigative Committee, come amid a bout of infighting between the FSB and the Federal Drug Control Service. After the arrest by FSB officers of a senior drug control service officer last month, President Putin called for the security services to end the infighting, The Moscow Times concludes.

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