Deputy Russian military chief of staff jailed for bribery in latest arrest of high defense official

MOSCOW (AP) — A deputy chief of the Russian military general staff has been arrested on charges of large-scale bribery, Russian news reports said Thursday, the latest in a series of bribery arrests of high-ranking military officials.

The arrest of Lt. Gen. Vadim Shamarin followed the arrest earlier in the week of Maj. Gen. Ivan Popov, a former top commander in Russia's offensive in Ukraine, also on bribery charges.

In April, Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was arrested for bribery. Ivanov was a close associate of Sergei Shoigu, whom President Vladimir Putin dismissed as defense minister soon after Putin's inauguration to a new term in May. Lt. Gen. Yury Kuznetsov, head of the Defense Ministry's personnel directorate, was arrested on bribery charges two days after Shoigu was replaced.

Shamarin, the latest officer to be arrested, is also the head of the Defense Ministry's main communications directorate. He is being held in custody for two months, Russian news agencies cited a military garrison court as saying, but other details of the case were not reported.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the wave of arrests of defense officials did not indicate a campaign against the military.

"The fight against corruption is consistent work. This is not a campaign, it is constantly ongoing work. This is an integral part of the activities of our law enforcement agencies,” he said Thursday in a conference call with journalists.

Hours after Shamarin's arrest, Russia's Investigative Committee reported detaining another Defense Ministry official — Vladimir Verteletsky, who headed a division in the state defense procurement department of the ministry.

Verteletsky was charged with abuse of office that resulted in damages worth over 70 million rubles, the Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said in a statement. He was placed in custody pending investigation and trial.

The deputy head of the federal prison service for the Moscow region, Vladimir Telayev, also was arrested Thursday on charges of large-scale bribery, Russian reports said.

Shoigu had been widely blamed for Russia’s failure to capture Kyiv early in the Ukraine fighting and was accused of incompetence and corruption by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who launched a mutiny in June 2023 to demand the dismissal of Shoigu and military chief of staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov.

Less than a month after Prigozhin’s failed uprising, Popov was dismissed as commander of the 58th Army. He said he had spoken to Shoigu about insufficient equipment that had led to excessive Russian deaths, and that his dismissal was a "treacherous” stab in the back to Russian forces in Ukraine.

Popov’s forces were fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region, one of the most hotly contested areas in the Ukraine conflict. His dismissal came one day after the 58th Army’s command post in the city of Berdyansk was hit in a Ukrainian strike, killing a high-ranking general.

05/23/2024 18:29 -0400

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