Other Russian officials arrested in military corruption investigation

Other Russian officials arrested in military corruption investigation

Russia has arrested two more senior figures, the deputy chief of the army's general staff and a senior defense ministry procurement official, in a growing corruption scandal, investigators said Thursday.

The arrests of Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin and ministry official Vladimir Verteletsky increased the number of detained military and defense officials to five within one month, starting on April 23, when Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was placed in preventive detention on suspicion of involvement in bribery. .

Since then, Lieutenant General Yuri Kuznetsov, Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defense, and Major General Ivan Popov, former commander of the Russian 58th Army, have been detained.

According to the state news agency TASS, Shamarin has pleaded not guilty. His home was reportedly searched in connection with the investigation and he was placed in pretrial detention for two months.

The Russian Investigative Committee said that Shamarin was accused of accepting bribes between 2016 and 2023 from a factory in the Ural Mountains that produced communications equipment, as a reward for winning larger government contracts with him, adding that he benefited at least 36 million rubles. ($400 thousand).

Since 2020, Chamarin has been responsible for supervising the Army Signal Corps, which is responsible for military communications, including ensuring secret command signals on the battlefield.

Investigators said in a statement that Verteletsky, the person primarily responsible for procurement, is accused of abuse of authority in implementing a state defense order. They said that in 2022 he signed an unfinished business that led to the state losing more than 70 million rubles ($764,000).

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These arrests are the biggest scandal to hit the Russian army in recent years, and come at a time when it has regained the initiative on the battlefield in Ukraine and has a new defense minister, the economist Andrei Belousov.

The appointment of Belousov, who has no military experience, was widely seen, among other things, as a move to eliminate waste and corruption in defense spending. Sergei Shoigu, a former minister, was transferred to become Secretary of the Russian Security Council.

The Kremlin, which said it was not authorized to publish details of the case, downplayed Shamarin's arrest and said similar anti-corruption work was taking place in several Russian government agencies.

“The fight against corruption is consistent action,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “It's not a campaign, it's a work in progress.”

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