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A Russian deputy defence minister appears in court on bribery charges

A handout photo taken from video released by the Russian Defence Ministry Press Service shows Timur Ivanov, deputy defence minister, in Moscow.
A handout photo taken from video released by the Russian Defence Ministry Press Service shows Timur Ivanov, deputy defence minister, in Moscow. Copyright Russian Defence Ministry Press Service photo via AP
Copyright Russian Defence Ministry Press Service photo via AP
By Euronews with AP
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Timur Ivanov is accused of accepting a massive bribe when he was one of Russia's 12 deputy defence ministers.

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Ivanov, who was arrested on Tuesday, appeared in court in central Moscow on Wednesday morning, 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 offence punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

He will remain in pre-trial custody.

According to a statement from the court, investigators told Moscow's Basmany court on 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 Defence."

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 defence 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 Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu were informed about Ivanov's arrest, which comes as Moscow's war in Ukraine continues into its third year.

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 wrote on X, formerly Twitter: "It's a good day today."

Transparency International, an anti-corruption pressure group, ranked Russia 141st out of 180 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index, alongside Guinea, Kyrgyzstan and Uganda. The index ranks the people's perception of corruption in their own country.

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