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Robbers target sensitive files in Moscow prosecutors’ office

Masked men Tuesday robbed the Moscow offices of federal prosecutors tasked with pursuing high-profile cases, gaining access to huge numbers of sensitive files, Russian investigators said.

In a brazen 4 am (0000 GMT) raid in central Moscow, assailants tied up a lone security guard and “broke into 18 filing cabinets and 25 safes,” the investigative committee of the Russian prosecutors’ office said in a statement.

Investigators denied that any sensitive court documents had been stolen, saying that the criminals took only a television and a video camera.

However, police sources were quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying that the break-in clearly targeted important court files and evidence — threatening ongoing priority cases.

“A huge number of documents has been stolen, including sensitive court files on criminal cases,” an unnamed police source told the agency.

Another police source told Interfax that the thieves had spent several hours rifling through filing cabinets, leaving unwanted files strewn on the floor.

“It appears that the files for one of the most sensitive criminal cases have been stolen,” a police source told the Interfax news agency.

The Moscow branch the prosecutors’ office houses a team of investigators heading up only the most high-priority and sensitive cases.

It is currently investigating relatives of the commander of the Russian air force, Lieutenant General Vladimir Shamanov, whose son-in-law is suspected of trying to have a business rival assassinated, according to Interfax.

The team is also investigating the case of a journalist and environmental activist who was severely beaten in 2008 after he denounced controversial plans to build a motorway through Khimki forest in the Moscow suburbs.

Following the attack, Mikhail Beketov, the editor of Khimkinskaya Pravda local newspaper, lay in a coma for one month, had one leg amputated and has still not regained the power of speech.