Russian Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov arrested on bribery charges

Russia’s deputy defense minister has been detained on suspicion of accepting “extensive” bribes, the country’s top law enforcement investigator announced on Tuesday.

A brief statement from the Investigative Committee provided few details about how Deputy Minister Timur Ivanov was detained. However, he is accused of accepting a “particularly large” bribe of more than 1 million rubles ($10,000).

The Ministry of Defense has not commented on the investigation.

Ivanov, who has served as deputy defense minister since 2016, has long been in charge of military construction projects, including most recently in Mariupol, a city in Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine that was destroyed in a Russian offensive shortly after the February war. This includes huge contracts awarded for reconstruction. Invasion in 2022.

He was also responsible for the construction of Patriot Park, a military-themed space on the outskirts of Moscow that featured exhibitions of weapons, and a Russian Orthodox cathedral that aimed to shine a divine light on the Russian military experience. . He was awarded the Order of Merit to the Fatherland several times.

Mr. Ivanov was known as a protégé of Russian Defense Minister Sergei K. Shoigu, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

The circumstances surrounding the detention of a deputy minister with such high-ranking connections were not immediately clear. But the pattern in the past for these arrests has been for the ousted figures to go against the business interests of the FSB, Russian security services, or even more powerfully connected construction oligarchs.

“He’s not an anomaly in terms of side jobs and unexplained wealth,” said Dara Mashikot, a Russian military expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “He must have crossed paths with someone for his career to end like this.”

Photos and reports have been circulating in Russia for years about the lavish lifestyle that Mr. Ivanov and his wife enjoy on a level well above their government salaries.Ann Anti-Corruption Foundation 2022 SurveyThe group, founded by opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny, said the couple’s purchases included a Rolls Royce, a $104,000 ring, designer clothes, as well as a luxury villa on the Cote d’Azur and the rental of a yacht. insisted.

The foundation and various news agencies reported that Ivanov and his wife Svetlana entered into a fake divorce in June 2022 so that they could continue to travel around Europe after being placed under European sanctions. Ta.

On Tuesday, pro-government and pro-war news channels were quick to point out the couple’s notorious spending habits shortly after the announcement of Ivanov’s detention.

Conservative Russian political commentator Sergei Markov said the idea that bribes were limited to 1 million rubles was laughable. “Nobody believes that,” he wrote, noting that the charges involved accepting large bribes. “The deputy minister committed not just a crime, but a serious crime. Here’s a signal to everyone: don’t stand up for him.”

In a separate development on Tuesday, the Russian Orthodox Diocese of Moscow announced on its website that the parish priest who prayed for Navalny’s funeral, Dmitri Safronov, would be barred from most public duties for three years. .

The official reason for the punishment was not disclosed in the announcement. But church analysts have speculated online that it may only be to preside over the funeral of an opposition leader who died in a Russian prison in February. After a long conflict with Navalny’s mother, the Russian government reluctantly approved a funeral in a Moscow cemetery.

Milana Mazaeva Contributed to the report.

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