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Russia detains fourth top defence figure for alleged bribe-taking

Russia detains fourth top defence figure for alleged bribe-taking
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Russia has detained the deputy head of the army’s general staff, Lieutenant-General Vadim Shamarin, on suspicion of large-scale bribe-taking, Russian media reported on Thursday.

It is the fourth arrest of a high-ranking defence figure in the space of a month, starting on April 23 when Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov was placed in pre-trial detention for suspected bribe-taking.

Since then, Lieutenant-General Yuri Kuznetsov, head of personnel at the defence ministry, and Major-General Ivan Popov, former commander of Russia’s 58th army, have also been arrested.

The scandal is the biggest to hit the Russian government in years. The arrests signal a major effort to stamp out corruption surrounding the awarding of lucrative military contracts.

Lieutenant-General Vadim Shamarin. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry via Reuters

Three other people have also been arrested – a friend of Ivanov, a boss at a construction company alleged to have paid bribes, and the former head of several companies subordinate to the defence ministry.

Shamarin is a deputy to Valery Gerasimov, head of the general staff. Gerasimov has not been accused of any wrongdoing, though he has at times faced harsh criticism over the performance of Russia’s military in the war in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin this month removed long-serving Sergei Shoigu as defence minister, replacing him with economist Andrei Belousov, a former deputy prime minister.

The appointment of Belousov, who has no army experience, was widely seen as a move to harness Russia’s war economy more effectively to the needs of the military and to eliminate wastage and corruption in defence spending.

Russia is well into the third year of its war in Ukraine, where its forces have regained the initiative in the past few months and recorded a series of gradual advances.

Putin said last week he did not plan changes to the General Staff because “combat work” was going successfully.

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