Another Senior Russian Official Arrested in Bribery Investigation

( – Russian authorities have arrested two senior officials in the space of a month over allegations of bribery and corruption. The latest man arrested is Lt. Gen. Yury Kuznetsov, formerly the head of the Defense Ministry’s personnel directorate. Kuznetsov, 55, was taken into custody after his suburban Moscow villa was subject to an early morning raid on Monday, May 13th.

The raid resulted in the seizure of just over 100 million rubles, the equivalent of around $1 million, gold, watches, and other luxury items, according to the Federal Security Service (FSB). During the raid, in which the doors and windows of his house were smashed, his wife was also reportedly interrogated. Kuznetsov was arrested and later charged with bribery, including accepting an “exceptionally large bribe.” According to the FSB, the bribe came from a group of business people who expected Kuznetsov to exercise various favors in return. He faces 15 years in prison if found guilty.

The raid and arrest come during a period of intense reshuffling in the Kremlin as Pres. Vladimir Putin looks to reshape his bureaucracy as he begins his fifth term in office. Putin replaced Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with Andrei Belousov, the former deputy prime minister. Shoigu was moved into the secretary role for the National Security Council, with the previous secretary, Nikolai Patrushev moved into a presidential aide position.

While a Kremlin spokesperson denied that Shoigu’s new role was a demotion, Shoigu has been subject to criticism by several pro-Kremlin voices. He has been accused of lying to Putin about setbacks in the Russian campaign in Ukraine as well as overselling Russia’s military capabilities in the run-up to the Ukraine invasion that began in February 2022. Timur Ivanov, Shoigu’s deputy, was recently arrested on charges of bribery.

The new Defense Minister said that he has been tasked with making the military more efficient and improving its capabilities. He claimed to be confident that sufficient soldiers could be recruited without resorting to further mobilizations, even as Russia seeks to launch fresh attacks over the border with Ukraine.

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