A Russian police official conducting research under the auspices of Virginia’s George Mason University (GMU) has been arrested after he reported obtaining evidence incriminating influential figures in Moscow and the far eastern city of Vladivostok, colleagues and local authorities said this week.
Col. Alexander Astafyev, 50, a senior anti-corruption investigator affiliated with a GMU research center in Vladivostok, had been working on an academic paper about “raiding,” or the criminal takeover of businesses with the help of corrupt officials, police or judges, when he was detained last month.
Astafyev worked closely with FBI agents investigating organized crime, and he visited Washington last year at the invitation of the State Department, said Louise Shelley, director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at GMU, which has research institutes in Vladivostok and three other Russian cities.
“I think it’s very disturbing,” she said of his arrest. “It’s U.S.-Russia relations without the reset.”
Shelley said Astafyev had a “long-standing reputation for integrity” and has been affiliated with the Vladivostok center for several years. He was conducting research on the criminal raiding of businesses under a $3,000 grant when he was arrested June 16, she said.
In a draft paper he submitted to the center, Astafyev estimated that 10,000 cases of criminal raiding occur every year but that fewer than 100 are prosecuted and result in convictions. “Law enforcement organs today are either participants or spectators of the takeovers,” he wrote.
In his letters, Astafyev suggested that his research had been a factor in his arrest, noting that he had submitted his paper shortly before he was detained and had included information about the criminal group that he thinks framed him. He also noted that police seized photos of him with American colleagues.
In his paper, Astafyev outlined cases of criminal business raiding in Vladivostok. In the process of seizing a trucking firm, he said, one outfit killed a senior executive of the company and injured several people, including a judge and a prosecutor.
Astafyev said the same group seized a major fishing enterprise and was deeply involved in smuggling. He linked it to officials in the Interior Ministry and the FSB, as well as to an adviser to the mayor, a former deputy governor of the region, and a law enforcement official in Moscow, all of whom he identified.
Read the full story:
Official’s Arrest In Russia Linked To GMU Research
The Washington Post, 23 July 2009
[via: Streetwise Professor]