Bastrykin: Putin’s mini-me

Just don’t look round, Yury Yakovlevich…

I appear to be developing an unhealthy fascinating with SK chief Alexander Bastrykin of late. Nonetheless, a quote from an unnamed law-enforcement source in today’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta was too neat not to blog:

“A weak prosecutor’s office is not what Putin wants. He knows better than rely on the Russian Investigative Committee alone… No, I do not think that Alexander Bastrykin is to be fired. Sure, Bastrykin is not exactly lily-white, he makes mistakes like everybody else. And yet, there is one thing that  goes for him, something that Chaika lacks. Bastrykin is like Putin and Putin knows him with all his flaws and shortcomings. Putin understands Bastrykin.”

Quite so. (Thanks to the absolutely indispensable Johnson’s Russia List for the translation.) Ultimately, incompetence is a far lesser crime to Putin than perceived disloyalty, or at least inadequately fierce loyalty. Nurgaliev’s competence was questioned for years to no avail, but it was his efforts to maintain a balance between Putin and Medvedev that probably led to his downfall. Likewise, whether or not GenProk Yuri Chaika can be considered “Medvedev’s man” (and I think that’s stretching a point; it would be a little like a rat leaping onto a sinking ship), I suspect he is at least regarded as not wholly one of Putin’s oprichniki. On the other hand, although Bastrykin did talk the talk about the law-governed state when Medvedev was president, he has done more than enough to demonstrate his Putinista credentials since. It would, I suspect, take some truly stupendous blunders to lead to his dismissal.
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