And the announcement this week that anticorruption blogger Aleksei Navalny will be facing criminal charges that could land him in prison for a decade marked the biggest and most brazen escalation to date in his war on dissent.
But apparently, not all of the Russian elite shares Bastrykin's zeal for a crackdown.
Moreover, in Navalny, the Investigative Committee head has chosen a shrewd, savvy target who is capable of mobilizing public opinion and who has indicated he won't go down without a fight.
In this week's edition of the Power Vertical podcast, I spoke to my regular co-host Kirill Kobrin, managing editor of RFE/RL's Russian Service and veteran Kremlin-watcher Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University, about the looming struggle between Bastrykin and Navalny -- and what it portends.
Also on the podcast, Kirill, Mark, and I discussed why the month of August is so prone to dramatic events in Russia.