‘Big Scandal’ Behind Russian Deputy Defense Minister’s Arrest

Moscow City Court Press Office/Handout via Reuters
Moscow City Court Press Office/Handout via Reuters

Russia’s deputy defense minister was arrested Wednesday just hours after attending a meeting of top military brass, according to federal investigators.

Timur Ivanov is officially charged with accepting a massive bribe—but some sources say that’s just for show.

“The bribe–that’s for the public. So far they don’t want to talk publicly about treason, it’s a big scandal. After all, it’s the deputy minister of defense,” one unnamed source close to the Federal Security Service told the independent Russian news outlet iStories.

“No one would have detained him for corruption. Everyone there [in the Kremlin] knew about that for a long time. Putin gave the command after it became clear that this was precisely a matter of treason,” another source was quoted as saying.

Details on the charges against Ivanov were not immediately clear. But the deputy defense minister was reportedly involved in a whole string of shady dealings, including enriching himself off the war against Ukraine through building contracts in the ravaged port city of Mariupol, according to a report by the investigative outlet Dossier.

Ivanov was also reportedly one of many clamoring to scoop up assets left behind by Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin after the warlord suffered a violent, fiery death in a plane crash last year. Prigozhin had reportedly feuded openly with Ivanov, even in the presence of Vladimir Putin, calling him an “embezzler.”

It is perhaps no surprise then that Ivanov is widely seen as a close ally of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who quite literally had a target on his back as the Wagner Group gained power in the war against Ukraine.

One unnamed source quoted by the well-connected VChK-OGPU Telegram channel said Ivanov’s arrest is a “catastrophic blow to Shoigu.” Another source was quoted as telling the channel that the identity of the bribe-giver in Ivanov’s case would make everything clear.

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