The war between Russia's two powerful "silovik" clans has taken a new turn, pitting one powerful judicial structure against the other.
According to the official newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, the General Prosecutor's office has been conducting a "proverka" or audit of the new Investigative Committee, which Putin set up in September to counterweight the prosecutor's power. The General Prosecutor is aligned with the silovik clan that includes Viktor Cherkessov's 40,000-strong anti-Narcotics army as well as the head of President Putin's personal security organ. This clan has been on the defensive for nearly three months now, since the Investigative Committee stripped the General Prosecutor of huge powers, thousands of employees, and most of its outstanding criminal investigations.
The Investigative Committee, headed by an old classmate of Putin, is said to have fallen under the control of a rival silovik clan headed by the FSB chief and Rosneft head Igor Sechin. Within a month of its founding, the FSB clan employed their new judicial weapon, arresting top generals from rival Cherkessov's anti-Narcotics Agency, and knee-capping Putin's 'liberal" faction with the arrest of deputy finance minister Sergei Storchak by the Investigative Committee. The General Prosecutor was powerless to stop both of those arrests.
Some speculated that the arrest of Storchak was meant to stop Putin from possibly naming Kudrin as his successor; Putin's surprise naming of "liberal" Dmitry Medvedev to succeed him shows that the FSB clan's information was pretty close.
Now, the General Prosecutor is striking back. Last week, they began a three-week complete audit of the Investigative Committee. Also last week, they managed to get one of the charges against Storchak dropped, and they forced the Investigative Committee to allow finance minister Alexei Kudrin to visit Storchak in jail, which he'd been barred from doing until Friday.
Now the General Prosecutor will have three weeks to pore over every single procedure, statistic, and activity of the Investigative Committee with the aim of "comparing" their work to the General Prosecutor's work in a comparable period.
Where is Putin in all of this? My guess is he's letting the two factions bleed each other weak, partly because getting involved would be like sticking your hand into a Mexican dog fight.
It's a fucked up world indeed when a distinctly un-liberal army like Cherkessov's Clan becomes the only hope for "liberals" like Kudrin and perhaps Medvedev to ward off "neo-Soviets" like the FSB and Igor Sechin.
Medvedev may become the new president, but the battle for real power is in full swing. Expect plenty more surprises.