What the heck is a Russian ‘Crown prosecutor’?

Julia Ioffe writes: In emails he released on Tuesday by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son and former campaign surrogate, Rob Goldstone, a former British tabloid journalist, told Trump Jr. that “the Crown prosecutor of Russia met with … Aras [Agalarov] this morning and in their meeting offered to provide some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” Which raises the question, who is “the Crown prosecutor of Russia”?

Goldstone seems to have garbled things a bit; in the United Kingdom a Crown prosecutor is one that works for the Crown, i.e., a federal prosecutor. There’s no such position in Russia technically, but the analogue would be the top federal prosecutor of Russia, and that is Yury Chaika, the prosecutor-general of the Russian Federation. Goldstone was likely translating a foreign title into its local equivalent. Translated into American titles, Chaika could be referred to as Russia’s attorney general.

Like the U.S. attorney general, the Russian prosecutor general is a figure politically close to the president. In Russia, that is especially true. Chaika has been extremely loyal to Putin, and stayed that way even as Putin reduced the power of the prosecutor’s office in the late aughts. In 2012, for instance, when pro-democracy protests rocked Moscow, he said, as Putin did, that they were financed by shadowy actors from abroad.

That loyalty has been rewarded amply. Chaika is part of the bloc of siloviki—or people allied with security services, literally the people who settle disputes through force—inside the Kremlin, as is Putin himself. Chaika has been protected from being pushed out by more powerful members of the clan, and Putin has willfully turned a blind eye as Chaika’s two adult sons have made a killing, accumulating hundreds of millions of dollars in business and choice government contracts. [Continue reading…]

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