Saturday May 25th, 2024 10:56AM

Top Russian military official appears in court on bribery charges

By The Associated Press

A top Russian military official arrested on suspicion of accepting a bribe was sent to pre-trial detention Wednesday after appearing before a court in central Moscow, court officials said in a statement.

Timur Ivanov, 48, one of Russia’s 12 deputy defense ministers, was arrested Tuesday evening, Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement. It gave no further information, apart from specifying that Ivanov is suspected of taking an especially large bribe — a criminal offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

According to a statement from the court, investigators told Moscow’s Basmany court Wednesday that Ivanov had conspired with third parties to receive a bribe in the form of unspecified property services “during contracting and subcontracting work for the needs of the Ministry of Defense.”

An acquaintance of Ivanov's, identified as Sergei Borodin, was also arrested and ordered into pre-trial detention on the same charges, court officials said in a separate statement. Both men are to remain in custody until at least June 23.

According to the defense ministry’s website, Ivanov was appointed to the post in 2016 by a presidential decree. He oversaw property management, housing and medical support for the military, construction and reconstruction of facilities.

Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying that both President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu were informed about Ivanov’s arrest, which comes as Moscow’s war in Ukraine continues into its third year.

Peskov also dismissed reports in the Russian media Wednesday that the corruption allegations against Ivanov were intended to obscure additional allegations of high treason.

Independent Russian news outlet reported that the bribery charges were intended to hide more serious charges and avoid public scandal, citing two unnamed sources close to Russia’s Federal Security Services.

Peskov described the reports as speculation. “There are a lot of rumors: we need to rely on official information,” he told journalists.

Ivanov’s lawyer also denied any additional charges, telling RIA Novosti that official was only facing bribery allegations.

Before his arrest on Tuesday evening, Ivanov was seen attending a meeting with Shoigu and other top military brass.

Russian media reported that he was in charge, among other things, of some of the construction in Mariupol — a port city in Ukraine’s partially occupied Donestk region which was heavily bombarded and occupied by Russian forces early on in the war in 2022.

Zvezda, the official TV channel of the Russian military, reported in the summer of 2022 that the ministry “is building an entire residential block” in the severely damaged city and showed Ivanov inspecting construction sites.

That same year, the team of the late Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner, alleged that Ivanov and his family had been living an extravagant life with luxurious trips abroad, lavish parties and elite real estate. The opposition activists also alleged that Ivanov’s wife Svetlana divorced him in the summer of 2022, avoided sanctions and continued to enjoy the lavish lifestyle.

Commenting on the detention of Ivanov on Tuesday, Navalny's ally Maria Pevchikh said on X, formerly Twitter: “It's a good day today.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
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