In this Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 file photo Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Investigative Committee Chief Alexander Bastrykin in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Since Putin returned for a third term last year embittered and shaken by huge protests against his rule, Bastrykin's Investigative Committee has become Putin's de facto political police, legally accountable to him alone. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Presidential Press Service)
In this photo taken Wedensday, March 13, 2013, Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny speaks to journalists outside a courtroom in Moscow, after his appeal against the country’s top investigative agency was rejected. Alexei Navalny, a leading anti-corruption activist embroiled in four separate legal battles with the Investigative Committee, had filed a complaint asking the Investigative Committee to begin proceedings against its chairman, Alexander Bastrykin, for his threat to murder a journalist in June last year.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's top cop has a new star role at the heart of the Putin regime. His mission? Shut down the opposition.
Alexander Bastrykin's Investigative Committee has become President Vladimir Putin's de facto political police, accountable to him alone. The fearsome organization was given the new mandate after Putin returned for a third term as president last year, embittered and shaken by huge protests against his rule.