Russian deputy defence minister detained on bribe allegations, officials say

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 11:35 PM

(Reuters) -A Russian deputy defence minister in charge of military construction has been detained on Tuesday on suspicion of “large-scale” bribe-taking, in one of the highest-profile corruption cases since Moscow launched its war in Ukraine.

A brief statement by the Investigative Committee, Russia’s top investigative body, said late on Tuesday that Timur Ivanov had been taken into custody and an investigation into his case was proceeding.

The statute that the investigators cited for the detention of Ivanov, who has been in his job for eight years, is for accepting bribes “on a particularly large scale”.

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 filled with spending on real estate, luxurious trips and designer clothing.

Russian media reported that Ivanov was in charge, among other things, of large construction projects rebuilding the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which was heavily bombarded and taken by Russia as part of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by Russian news agencies, said a report on Ivanov’s detention had been presented to President Vladimir Putin. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had been informed in advance of his detention, he said.

The daily Izvestia reported on Wednesday, citing sources, that searches were conducted late on Tuesday at some of Ivanov’s properties.

Russian news reports said that Ivanov, if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison.

Forbes magazine listed Ivanov, an expert in cybernetics and the nuclear industry, as one of the wealthiest men in Russia’s security structures.

News outlet RBK posted a picture of him attending a meeting of ministerial officials earlier on Tuesday chaired by Shoigu.

Russian news reports said Ivanov was likely the most senior Russian official to face such charges since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

He worked in companies dealing with fuel and energy and in the Moscow regional government before joining the defence ministry in 2010. He became a deputy minister in 2016.

(Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Ron Popeski and Lidia Kelly; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Gerry Doyle)