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Putin Power Struggle: Russian Authorities Detain Deputy Defense Minister Amid Ongoing Ukraine War

Russian Deputy Defense Minister Detained for Corruption Allegations
Source: Unsplash

This arrest marked the highest-profile corruption case since President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Apr. 24 2024, Published 11:02 a.m. ET

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One of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s deputies has been detained by Russian security services on suspicion of accepting significant bribes, marking the highest-profile corruption case since President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was detained recently, as stated in a brief 22-word announcement by Russia’s investigative committee. He faces 15 years in jail if convicted under the statute cited by the investigators for accepting bribes “on a particularly large scale."

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The sudden arrest of an ally of Shoigu, who was tasked by Putin with managing the war in Ukraine, has sparked speculation about a power struggle within the elite and a public crackdown on corruption in Russia’s post-Soviet armed forces.

The Kremlin confirmed that Putin had been informed and added that Shoigu had also been notified. Earlier, Ivanov was present at a meeting of top defense officials chaired by Shoigu.

Ivanov, who has served as deputy minister since 2016, was in charge of property management, housing, construction and mortgages at the defense ministry. However, the defense ministry has made no official comment.

Russia’s Kommersant newspaper reported that Ivanov, 48, was arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, which Putin last month instructed to root out corruption in state defense procurement, the New York Post reported.

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Izvestia newspaper claimed that others had also been detained, although there was no official confirmation of that. According to the newspaper, Ivanov’s properties were being searched. State television provided extensive coverage of the case.

“Let's just say the investigation did not start yesterday, the day before yesterday, or even a month ago,” an unidentified source in Russian law enforcement told the TASS state news agency. FSB military counter-intelligence was involved, according to TASS.

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It remains unclear 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 hasty withdrawal from parts of Ukraine after seriously over-extending itself during the initial days of the invasion.

Ivanov has long been associated with the ostentatious opulence that has characterized some sections of the post-Soviet Russian elite, including luxurious real estate and flashy parties. In 2022, Russia’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, headed by the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, alleged that Ivanov and his family led a lavish lifestyle.


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