MOSCOW, November 28 (RIA Novosti) – Companies controlled by the Russian Defense Ministry embezzled more than a combined 10 billion rubles ($257 million) this year, investigators said on Wednesday.
The alleged sum included 6.7 billion rubles ($215 million) suspected to have been stolen via a corruption scheme that cost Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov his job earlier this month, Investigative Committee spokesman Alexander Sorochkin said. The sum in the high-profile case was previously reported to be 3 billion rubles.
In 2011, losses from combined embezzlement at the ministry stood at 3 billion rubles, according to the Military Prosecutor General’s Office.
Investigators are planning to question Serdyukov, a longtime ally of President Vladimir Putin, over his involvement in the alleged property scam, but have not decided on the date, Sorochkin said at a news conference in Moscow.
Putin removed his Serdyukov after the corruption scandal went public earlier in November, but stressed at the time that the minister was not implicated in the case.
Two businessmen were arrested as part of the probe into the case, and a third was detained overnight, Sorochkin said on Wednesday. A close subordinate of Serdyukov’s, Yelena Vasilyeva, is currently under house arrest in Moscow.
Corruption was identified by Dmitry Medvedev as one of Russia’s greatest problems during his one-term presidency, which ended this May.
Russia shared 143rd place out of 182 nations with Nigeria in Transparency International’s 2011 global corruption index
But Medvedev admitted before standing down in favor of Vladimir Putin that his much trumpeted campaign against graft had seen “almost no” success whatsoever.
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The growing outright rivalry between the United States and China gives Russia more foreign policy weight, enabling it to assume the role of a balancer. So far it has been doing so rather skillfully. Today it may participate in a joint naval exercise with China that Beijing positions as outwardly anti-American. But tomorrow it can team up with the naval forces of the Old World.