Russia arrests an ally of Defense Minister Shoigu on corruption charges

Russian security services have detained one of Deputy Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on suspicion of receiving large bribes, the biggest corruption case since President Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine in early 2022.

Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was arrested on Tuesday, according to A A brief statement of 22 words By the Russian Investigative Committee. The law that investigators cited for his detention was accepting bribes “on a particularly large scale.”

He faces 15 years in prison if convicted.

The surprise arrest of Shoigu's ally, whom Putin has tapped to fight the war in Ukraine, has raised speculation about an intra-elite battle and a general crackdown on corruption that has plagued Russia's post-Soviet armed forces.

Timur Ivanov at the Basmanny District Court in Moscow on Wednesday.Basmani District Court Press Service via AP

The Kremlin said Putin had been informed, and added that Shoigu had also been informed. Ivanov was present earlier Tuesday at a meeting of senior defense officials chaired by Shoigu.

Ivanov, who has been deputy minister since 2016, was responsible for the Department of Property, Housing, Construction and Mortgages at the Ministry of Defense. The Ministry of Defense did not make any comment.

The Russian newspaper Kommersant said that Ivanov (48 years old) was arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, which Putin ordered last month to eliminate corruption in state defense procurement.

Russia's official TASS news agency and Izvestia newspaper said others were also arrested, although there was no official confirmation of this. Izvestia newspaper said Ivanov's property was being searched. State television gave the case full coverage.

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An unnamed Russian law enforcement source told TASS: “Let's just say that the investigation did not start yesterday, or the day before yesterday, or even a month ago.” TASS said that military counterintelligence of the Federal Security Service participated in the incident.

It was not immediately clear why such a senior official with close ties to Shoigu was targeted.

Russian military bloggers have long accused senior generals of corruption and incompetence, especially after the army's hasty withdrawal from parts of Ukraine after over-extending its forces during the first days of the invasion.

There is a range of views within the Russian elite about the war, which has caused the worst breakdown in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

Ivanov, who was inaccessible during his detention, has long been associated with the extravagance and ostentation that has characterized some sectors of Russia's post-Soviet elite, including luxury real estate and extravagant parties.

In 2022, the Russian Anti-Corruption Foundation, headed by the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, claimed that Ivanov and his family were living a lavish lifestyle.

Ivanov, who was born in Moscow, graduated with a degree in mathematics from Moscow State University and completed a thesis on regulatory models for the construction of nuclear power plants.

He rose through the ranks of Russia's state atomic energy sector and served as an advisor to the Minister of Energy before moving on to become Deputy Prime Minister of the Moscow Region Government under Shoigu, who was governor at the time.

Since 2013, Ivanov has headed a construction company affiliated with the Ministry of Defense that builds housing for soldiers and high-security facilities.

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Forbes magazine included Ivanov as one of the richest men in Russian security structures.

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