Corruption shakes the Russian military leadership

Five army and defense ministry officials were arrested within a month

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Vadim Shamarin, Photo: Beta/AP
Vadim Shamarin, Photo: Beta/AP
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

As part of the corruption investigation, the Russian authorities arrested two more high-ranking officials - the deputy chief of the General Staff of the Army and a high-ranking official for procurement in the Ministry of Defense, the investigators announced yesterday.

With the arrest of Lieutenant Generals Vadim Shamarin and Vladimir Vertelecki, the number of detained army and defense ministry officials increased to five within a month.

Three others, including a former head of a construction company suspected of paying bribes, were also arrested, signaling a major effort to crack down on corruption in the awarding of lucrative military contracts as Russian forces fight in Ukraine.

Shamarin is accused of accepting bribes between 2016 and 2023 from a factory in the Urals that produces communications equipment, as a reward for contracting major state jobs with that factory, Russia's Investigative Committee said. He profited from it at least 36 million rubles ($400.000).

Shamarin, whose apartment was allegedly searched in connection with the investigation and who was ordered to be detained for two months, faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty, writes Reuters. The state news agency TASS reported that he had pleaded not guilty.

The showdown with high-level corruption began on April 23, when Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was detained on suspicion of accepting bribes.

Since 2020, Shamarin has been in charge of overseeing the Army's Signal Corps, which is responsible for military communications, including providing classified command signals on the battlefield, Reuters reported.

The investigators announced that the official of the Ministry of Defense, Vertelecki, was accused of abuse of authority in the execution of the order. He approved incomplete works in 2022, which left the state with a loss of over 70 million rubles ($764.000).

The showdown with high-level corruption began on April 23, when Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was detained on suspicion of accepting bribes.

Since then, Lieutenant General Yuri Kuznetsov, head of personnel service in the Ministry of Defense, and Major General Ivan Popov, former commander of Russia's 58th Army, have also been arrested.

Sergei Shoigu
Sergei Shoiguphoto: Reuters

Reuters states that these arrests represent the biggest scandal that has rocked the Russian army in recent years and that they come at a time when it has taken the initiative on the battlefield in Ukraine and after the election of a new defense minister, economist Andrey Belousov.

One of the goals of appointing Belous, who has no military experience, is widely believed to be to eliminate waste and corruption in military spending. Sergei Shoigu, the previous minister, was transferred to the position of secretary of the Security Council of Russia.

The Kremlin, which said it was not authorized to disclose details of the case, played down the significance of Shamarin's arrest and added that similar anti-corruption activities were being carried out in various Russian state agencies.

"The fight against corruption is consistent work," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "It is not a campaign, it is an ongoing work".

Sergei Markov, a former adviser to the Kremlin, assessed that Shamarin's arrest was the continuation of a comprehensive reconstruction in the military leadership.

"The arrest of Shamarin is not only an arrest, but also a major audit of the work of the Main Directorate for Communications by the Audit Chamber," said Markov.

He added that one of the goals of the investigation was to "strengthen the morale of the army and equip the army with modern communication equipment and missile and artillery guidance systems."

An influential military blogger close to the defense ministry, who identifies himself as "Fisherman" and has more than a million followers, said the arrests were logical, but that investigators had likely glossed over the alleged irregularities for a long time before deciding to act.

Shamarin is the deputy of Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the General Staff, who manages the war in Ukraine. Gerasimov has not been accused of any wrongdoing, although he has faced harsh criticism over the performance of the Russian military since the start of its all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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