- Title: RUSSIA/FILE: Russian army corruption scandal spurs conflict between elites
- Date: 29th November 2012
- Summary: MOSCOW, RUSSIA (FILE - SEPTEMBER 2011) (REUTERS) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER ALAIN JUPPE AND THEN RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTER ANATOLY SERDYUKOV TAKING SEATS AT NEWS CONFERENCE MEDIA SERDYUKOV TALKING NEWS CONFERENCE ENDS, SERDYUKOV AND OTHER OFFICIALS STANDING UP
- Embargoed: 14th December 2012 12:00
- Location: Russian Federation
- Country: Russia
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAEE9RHRW0FSSVRTJ9ER6TO6PS8
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: A scandal in the Russian army that has seen the resignation of former defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov's resignation, according to a Moscow analyst, points to a Kremlin campaign signalling a conflict among Russia's ruling elites.
Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Serdyukov on November 6, shortly after the start of a probe into corruption allegations in the Defence Ministry.
Though Serdyukov has not come under investigation himself, his confidante Yevgeniya Vasilyeva was charged with fraud last week in a $100 million embezzlement case.
Vasilyeva, 33, oversaw defence ministry property at a time when one of its firms allegedly sold lucrative properties to insider companies at a loss of at least 3 billion roubles ($96 million).
Vasilyeva, who was photographed in a silver sequinned dress with former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, has been put under house arrest by a Moscow court and made to wear a tracking device.
The Interior Ministry on Wednesday (November 28) named former Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik as a witness in a criminal investigation into a $16 million fraud at the ministry.
Moscow Carnegie Centre political analyst Maria Lipman said that the events may signal fear in the Kremlin of a decline in Putin's popularity rating.
"This anti-corruption campaign looks very strange. What stopped them when all the organisations who investigate corruption - I mean independent, non-governmental organisations - and all the estimations made by government bodies, when everyone year after year pointed out that corruption was growing? In the meantime, with all the corruption-related cases that were opening, not always all of them led to a sentence even when it seemed that the case was clear," Lipman said.
"There are various elements in this campaign. There is also probably the authorities' intention to threaten the elite a little bit, to prevent the wrong sentiment that the leader is becoming weaker, his rating is falling, that maybe this leader doesn't possess such an absolute authority," Lipman added Analysts have said that Serdyukov fell foul of influential groups within the Kremlin and had crossed his powerful father-in-law.
Investigators said that last week they had raided 18 cottages in a community outside Moscow which belonged to Russia's national tax service and where Serdyukov - a former tax service chief - had stayed for some time.
Russia's Defence Ministry channels billions of dollars every year through the country's arms industry, the world's second-largest defence exporter.
A military prosecutor last year said one fifth of Russia's military budget is stolen.
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