Russian Deputy Defence Minister kept in jail over $11M bribery case

Russian Deputy Defence Minister, Ivanov, a deputy minister overseeing acquisitions and procurement at the Russian defense ministry, stands accused of accepting over $11 million in kickbacks from contractors in exchange for helping them secure lucrative military orders.

A Russian court has refused to release a deputy defence minister accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes from military contractors, in a high-profile corruption case that has dealt another blow to Moscow’s armed forces amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The Moscow City Court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal by lawyers for Timur Ivanov to have him transferred to house arrest while awaiting trial. Instead, the court sided with investigators who argued there were risks the 57-year-old official could attempt to flee Russia.

“The court decided to leave him in custody,” Ivanov’s lawyer Murad Musayev told the TASS news agency. He vowed to appeal the ruling to a higher court.

Ivanov, a deputy minister overseeing acquisitions and procurement at the Russian defence ministry, stands accused of accepting over $11 million in kickbacks from contractors in exchange for helping them secure lucrative military orders.

The scale of the alleged bribery scheme has made Ivanov’s prosecution a major embarrassment for Russia’s defence establishment as its forces remain bogged down in the 15-month invasion of Ukraine. Pervasive corruption has long plagued the country’s military-industrial complex.

During Wednesday’s hearing, prosecutors argued Ivanov posed a flight risk and could potentially try to escape to the European Union if granted house arrest, according to Musayev. But the defence lawyer dismissed those claims, stating his client is already under Western sanctions barring him from travelling.

A Russian court sanctioned Ivanov’s arrest on bribery charges back in March after the federal FSB intelligence agency raided his properties and those of accomplices. According to investigators, Ivanov received kickback payments through intermediaries from at least four different military contractors between 2019 and 2022.

The alleged $11 million bribery total is an eye-popping figure, equivalent to nearly 800 million rubles at current exchange rates. If convicted at trial, the 30-year military veteran could face over a decade in prison.

The Kremlin has attempted to downplay the optics of the Ivanov case, insisting it will not impact Russia’s “special military operation” and that no senior officials are immune from prosecution for graft.

But the damaging allegations strike another blow to both pride and credibility, as Russia’s most senior deputy defence minister meant to be overseeing its military acquisitions stands exposed as instead allegedly accepting bribes from contractors on a massive scale.