Bribery Rocks Russian Defense Ministry, Senior Officials Detained

Published: 14 May 2024

Yuriy KuznetsovLieutenant-General Yury Kuznetsov, suspected of large-scale bribery. (Photo: Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Russian authorities detained a senior Defense Ministry official, alleging his involvement in a large-scale bribery scheme exceeding 100 million Russian rubles (just over US$1 million), the Russian Investigative Committee stated Tuesday on its Telegram channel.

The Main Investigation Department of the Committee (Следственный комитет Российской Федерации - SLEDKOM) said it has opened “a criminal case against the head of the personnel department of the Defense Ministry, Yury Kuznetsov.”

“The investigation reveals that between 2021 and 2023, while serving as the head of the 8th Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Kuznetsov allegedly accepted bribes from representatives of commercial entities in exchange for carrying out specific actions beneficial to them,” read the statement.

If convicted, the decorated Lieutenant-General Kuznetsov could potentially face up to 15 years behind bars.

SLEDKOM further revealed that during the raid on Kuznetsov’s premises and offices, authorities unearthed and seized a treasure trove exceeding $1 million in Russian rubles and various foreign currencies, alongside an assortment of gold coins, exquisite watches, and other opulent possessions.

In May 2023, Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Kuznetsov as the head of the Defense Ministry’s personnel directorate, over a year into Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Putin had previously appointed him as the head of the 8th Directorate of the General Staff back in 2010.

Kuznetsov’s detention comes on the heels of the arrest of one of his superiors, Timur Ivanov, a Russian Deputy Defense Minister, who faced similar charges of large-scale bribery less than a month ago.

According to the Russian state-owned news agency TASS, Ivanov, a close associate of the ousted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, was accused of receiving bribes amounting to 1.125 billion Russian rubles ($12.32 million), primarily through construction contracts, a claim vehemently denied by his lawyer.

Ivanov also faces a potential 15-year jail term if convicted.