Putin's Purge? Another Top Russian General Arrested On Bribery Charges

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, May 24, 2024 - 03:20 AM

Is this the continuation of what appers an ongoing purge by President Vladimir Putin of his top defense ranks

The Kremlin escalated its crackdown on Russia’s top military ranks, with a new corruption arrest this week.

Russian authorities detained Lieutenant-General Vadim Shamarin, deputy to General Valery Gerasimov, head of the army’s general staff, on suspicion of large-scale bribe-taking, Russian state media reported Thursday. 

It is the fourth arrest in the past month of a high-ranking military official, marking the biggest Russian army scandal in years. The detentions come as President Vladimir Putin carries out a sweeping reshuffle of top jobs, including a change at the head of the Ministry of Defense.

Lieutenant-General Vadim Shamarin, deputy head of the army's general staff. Handout/Reuters

The arrest comes closely on the heels of the biggest reshuffling in military leadership since the Ukraine invasion's start: the May 12th removal of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (or rather, he was shifted to head of the national security council) and installation of Andrei Belousov.

"On May 22, the court chose a preventive measure for Shamarin in the form of detention for a period of two months," a court official was cited in AFP as confirming. Additionally a senior defense ministry procurement official identified as Vladimir Verteletsky was also reportedly detained.

The court has alleged Shamarin accepted bribes "at an especially large scale" while overseeing the doling out of state contracts:

Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, announced later on Thursday that the general is accused of accepting 36 million rubles ($397,000) from the executives of a phone manufacturing plant for “general patronage” and ensuring higher product supplies through Defense Ministry contracts.

He is currently in pretrial detention. As for recent removals which are specifically criminal cases, below is a review of the series of arrests:

  • Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was detained in late April
  • Lieutenant-General Yuri Kuznetsov, head of personnel at the defense ministry
  • Major-General Ivan Popov, a former top commander for Russia’s offensive in Ukraine

Despite all appearances, the Kremlin is still denying that a "purge" is in progress - but instead a mere serious campaign to root out corruption.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA in the wake of the detention of Gerasimov's deputy, "The fight against corruption is a continuous effort. This is not a campaign. It is an integral part, in fact, of the activities of our law enforcement agencies."

So this string of arrests is being presented as an open and shut simple enforcement of the law, but this is hardly convincing many Russia observers in the West. For example, the BBC's Russia Editor Steve Rosenberg has observed: "When one top defense official in Russia is arrested, that’s interesting. When four senior defense figures are arrested in less than a month, that’s more than a pattern...begins to look like a purge."

As for head of the army, Gen. Gerasimov... while this certainly puts him under a greater spotlight (as his #2 just went down), he is not accused of any wrongdoing, but still has come under increased criticism among Kremlin officials of late for how the 'special military operation' is being executed in Ukraine.