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Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Held On Corruption Charges

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov gives explanations to President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, (not seen in the picture) who inspect a model of the Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces in the course of its construction near Moscow, Russia, September 19, 2018. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY.

Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov, has been arrested for accepting bribes “on a particularly large scale”, according to a brief statement from the investigative committee. Ivanov, who’s been in the job since 2016, oversaw property management, housing, construction, and mortgages at the defence ministry. It marks the most notable corruption case since President Vladimir Putin deployed troops to Ukraine in February 2022. He faces 15 years in jail if convicted.

The Kremlin confirmed that President Putin and Minister Shoigu were both notified of the arrest. The defence ministry has not issued any statements regarding the arrest. Russia’s Kommersant newspaper said that Ivanov, 48, was arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet-era KGB which Putin last month told to root out corruption in state defence procurement.

The Izvestia newspaper said others had also been detained, though there was no official confirmation of that. The newspaper said Ivanov’s properties were being searched. State television gave the case full coverage.

“Lets just say the investigation did not start yesterday, the day before yesterday or even a month ago,” an unidentified Russia law enforcement source told the TASS state news agency. FSB military counter-intelligence was involved, TASS said.

It was not immediately clear why such a senior official with a close association with Shoigu would be targeted.

Russian military bloggers have long accused top generals of corruption and incompetence, especially after the army’s hurried withdrawal from parts of Ukraine after seriously over-extending itself during the first days of the invasion.

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Within the Russian elite, there are a range of views on the war, which has touched off the worst breakdown in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Ivanov, who could not be reached as he was in detention, has long been linked to the ostentatious opulence which has characterised some sections of the post-Soviet Russian elite, including luxurious real estate and flashy parties.

In 2022, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, led by the late Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, accused Ivanov and his family of leading an opulent lifestyle. Born in Moscow, Ivanov earned a mathematics degree from Moscow State University and wrote a dissertation on organisational models for building nuclear power plants. He advanced in Russia’s state atomic energy sector, served as an advisor to the energy minister, and later became the deputy head of the Moscow region’s government when Shoigu was the governor.

Since 2013, Ivanov has managed a defence ministry construction company responsible for building housing for soldiers and high-security facilities. Forbes magazine recognized him as one of the wealthiest men within Russia’s security apparatus.

With Inputs From Reuters