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Russian Defense Ministry shaken by most notable scandal in 10 years

Russian Defense Ministry shaken by most notable scandal in 10 years Photo: Timur Ivanov (Getty Images)

Russia's Investigative Committee has detained Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov for two months. His luxurious lifestyle does not fit well with Putin's call to create an “elite” of war veterans, the UK Ministry of Defense reports.

According to the report, Ivanov was charged with committing a crime under Part 6 of Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, namely receiving a large bribe. Some offenses under Article 290 are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Vladimir Putin had been informed of the arrest. Ivanov denies any wrongdoing. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was also informed. Ivanov was a Deputy Prime Minister of the Moscow Regional Government in 2012 when Shoigu was Governor of the Moscow Region. Therefore, it is likely that he has long-standing ties with Shoigu, the report said.

According to British intelligence, Ivanov was appointed a Deputy Defense Minister in 2016 and reportedly played an important role in the reconstruction projects in Mariupol. In his income declaration for 2018, it is allegedly indicated that Ivanov owned 22 cars.

“Reports of Ivanov's reported luxurious lifestyle sit awkwardly with Putin's call in February in his State of the Nation Address for a new national elite comprised of the heroes of the special military operation. The Ivanov affair is the most serious scandal to hit the MOD since then Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was dismissed in November 2012,” the British Ministry of Defense said.

Scandal in Moscow

Forbes magazine named Ivanov one of the richest men in Russia's security agencies, Ivanov was in charge of real estate management, housing, construction, and mortgages at the MOD, whose spending has skyrocketed since the start of the war against Ukraine.

Investigators seized all bank accounts and property of Ivanov and his family. Three people have already been arrested in the bribery case against Ivanov. The expanding scandal is the worst blow to the ministry since the beginning of the war.

Ivanov has been a close ally of the Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, who is at risk of being affected by the scandal. Some analysts see the case as an attempt to weaken Shoigu and a sign of tensions and rivalries within the elite as Putin prepares to name a new government next month.