Russia: New arrests for alleged corruption at the Defense Ministry

by Andrew Osborn and Mark Trevelyan

May 23 (Reuters) – Russian authorities announced on Thursday the arrest of two army and defense ministry officials in a widening corruption scandal that has led to detentions five high-ranking representatives.
They are the deputy secretary general of the army, General Vadim Chamarine, and a senior official in charge of procurement at the Defense Ministry, Vladimir Verteletsky, investigators said.

Three other individuals, including the former boss of a construction company suspected of paying bribes, were also arrested, suggesting that Moscow is carrying out a major anti-corruption operation amid lucrative contracts. military are attributed in parallel to the war in Ukraine.

Vadim Chamarine is accused of having received illicit payments between 2016 and 2023 from a factory located in the Urals which produces communications equipment, as gratification for having placed larger public orders, said the national investigation committee. The general would have thus pocketed 400,000 dollars.

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According to the TASS news agency, Vadim Chamarine, placed in pre-trial detention for two months, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He faces a sentence of 15 years in prison.

Vladimir Verteletsky, for his part, was charged with abuse of authority in carrying out orders from the Ministry of Defense. Investigators said in a statement that he approved incomplete work in 2022 that caused a loss of more than $760,000 to public finances.

The Russian authorities’ anti-corruption operation began on April 23, with the pre-trial detention of one of the deputy ministers of the Ministry of Defense, Timur Ivanov, accused of having received bribes.

Subsequently, the chief of personnel of the Ministry of Defense, Yuri Kuznetsov, and the former commander of a Russian army battalion, Ivan Popov, were arrested.

This is the biggest scandal shaking the Russian army in recent years, on the sidelines of its offensive in Ukraine where it has regained the initiative on the front lines, and while the economist Andreï Belousov was appointed this month here as Minister of Defense replacing Sergei Shoigu.

This appointment is considered by many observers as a decision stemming in particular from the Kremlin’s desire to fight against unnecessary spending and corruption.

The Kremlin, which said it could not communicate on the cases, downplayed Vadim Chamarine’s arrest and indicated that anti-corruption operations were being carried out through various Russian public agencies.

“The fight against corruption is constant work (…), it is not a campaign,” Russian presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists. (Written by Andrew Osborn and Mark Trevelyan; French version Jean Terzian)

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