Russian security services have detained one of the deputy defense ministers on suspicion of receiving large bribes, the highest-profile corruption case since President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine in February 2022.

Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was detained on Tuesday, according to a brief 22-word statement from Russia’s investigative committee. The accusation cited by investigators at the time of the arrest is receiving “large-scale” bribes. If convicted he will face 15 years in prison.

The sudden arrest of a subordinate of defense minister Sergey Shoigu, whom Putin has tasked with fighting the war in Ukraine, has sparked speculation about a battle within the elite and a public crackdown on corruption.

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

Ivanov, who has served as deputy minister since 2016, was in charge of property management, housing, construction and mortgages at the Defense Ministry.

Russia’s Kommersant newspaper said Ivanov, 48, was arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, which Putin ordered last month to root out corruption in state defense procurement.

The Izvestia newspaper said others were also detained, although there was no official confirmation of this. The newspaper said Ivanov’s properties were being searched. State television gave full coverage to the case.

“I will just say that the investigation did not start yesterday, the day before yesterday or even a month ago,” an unnamed Russian law enforcement source told state news agency TASS. It was not immediately clear why such a senior official with a close connection to Shoigu would be targeted.

With information from Reuters


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