On January 20, the Russian news service Interfax reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed that the Russian Federation Council — the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament — dismiss Yuri Chaika as Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, in connection with Chaika’s transfer to another unspecified post. Interfax also stated that according to the Kremlin’s press service, President Putin proposed Igor Krasnov, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation’s Investigative Committee, to succeed Chaika, and submitted Krasnov’s name to the Federation Council.
Chaika, who served as Prosecutor for nearly 14 years, was considered “one of the most powerful law enforcement figures in the country.” Among other cases that he supervised, Chaika oversaw the posthumous tax-evasion prosecution of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, which died in 2009 after 11 months in Russian custody after he reported fraud by Russian officials.
A prosecutor since 1997, Krasnov reportedly served from 2006 to 2007 as investigator in the Prosecutor General’s central office, then moved in 2007 to the Investigative Committee as a senior investigator for particularly important cases under the Chairman of the Investigative Committee. He is credited with investigating a number of high-profile criminal cases, including the attempted assassination of Russian politician Anatoly Chubais and the assassination of Russian physicist and Putin opponent Boris Nemtsov. In 2016, Krasnov became Deputy Chairman of the Investigative Committee, and in 2017 was given the rank of lieutenant general of justice.
According to Interfax, Vladimir Poletaev, First Deputy Head of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation, predicted quick action by the Parliament on Krasnov’s nomination. As predicted, the lower house approved Krasnov on January 21, and the upper house on January 22.
Note: The firing marks the second time in recent days that the President of a major nation with widely reported corruption problems has taken action against senior prosecutors. South Korean President Moon’s actions, however, are evidently directed at reining in the power of prosecutors and police to investigate corruption effectively. President Putin’s actions, by contrast, appear to be part of a series of political moves – including his submission of a package of constitutional amendments to the Parliament – that are calculated to enable him to retain power even after his fourth term as president ends in 2024.
These latest moves do not necessarily signal a trend toward greater high-level corruption in the Russian government. Even so, risk and compliance teams for entities doing business in Russia should closely follow the progress of Putin’s constitutional amendments, and watch for future actions by Krasnov that could assist Putin in his quest for future power or in quelling further internal opposition to that quest.