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Russian military leadership faced with reshuffle, accountability

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published May 23,2024

The Russian military leadership has faced a major reshuffle and accountability following President Vladimir Putin's inauguration as the president for a fifth term.

Russia's new Cabinet has seen a few major changes since Putin assumed a new six-year term in office, notably confirming Andrey Belousov as the new defense minister.

The appointment meant that he replaced Sergey Shoygu, who assumed the post of defense minister back in 2012 and led the country's so-called "special military operation" in Ukraine since February 2022.

While Shoygu has since been appointed as the secretary of Russia's Security Council, Belousov assumed his post vowing that Moscow aims to achieve its goals in Ukraine with "minimal human losses."

Prior to and since Belousov's appointment, reports have emerged of five active high-level Russian military officials being arrested over suspicions of bribery and fraud.


The first of such reports in Russia involving former Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov surfaced on April 23, when the Investigative Committee announced Ivanov's detention on suspicions of graft.

Moscow's Basmanny Court ordered Ivanov to be remanded until June 23, while his hearing further disclosed that he faces allegations of bribery linked to contract and subcontract activities undertaken for the Defense Ministry.

The court also revealed the detention and subsequent arrest of Sergey Borodin, a former colonel who is suspected to be Ivanov's associate in bribery, as well as businessman Alexandr Fomin on charges of bribing Ivanov.


On May 14, the Investigative Committee also declared the arrest of Yury Kuznetsov, the head of the Defense Ministry's Personnel Department, who is said to be suspected of receiving substantial kickbacks.

Investigative Committee spokeswoman Svetlana Petrenko said in a statement on Telegram that the investigation found Kuznetsov having received a bribe between 2021 and 2023 from "representatives of commercial structures" for performing certain actions in their favor.

Petrenko further said Kuznetsov was found in possession of over 100 million rubles ($1.1 million) in domestic and foreign currency during a search of his residence, while gold coins, collectible watches and luxury items were also seized.


Exactly one week later, Russian media reported the arrest of former commander of the 58th Army of the Russian Armed Forces Ivan Popov for fraud on a "particularly large scale."

The report was later confirmed by the 235th Garrison Military Court, which told Russian state news agency TASS that Popov was arrested on May 17 for a period of two months.

Later in the day, Popov's lawyer told TASS the arrest has already been appealed, and that the former commander is "not guilty of anything, so he does not admit guilt."


Another report about more arrests came Thursday when Vadim Shamarin, the head of the Main Communications Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces, was detained for questioning.

Russian media reported that Shamarin was detained one day earlier on suspicions of receiving a bribe "on a large scale."

On the same day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the fight against corruption in the country is carried out systematically and is ongoing in "all departments," signaling the possibility of further arrests.


Petrenko also announced Thursday that Vladimir Verteletsky, the head of the Ministry of Defense department for implementing the state defense order, was arrested on corruption charges.

Verteletsky was charged with abuse of official authority in the execution of a state defense order.

According to investigators, in 2022, Verteletsky signed official papers confirming works under a contract were done so that the contractor could receive the payment, causing the state 70 million rubles ($775,000) in damage.