Defence Ministry general arrested for bribery amid post-Shoigu purge

Lieutenant General Yury Kuznetsov. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry

Lieutenant General Yury Kuznetsov. Photo: Russian Defence Ministry

A high-ranking general working in Russia’s Defence Ministry has been arrested on suspicion of taking bribes “on a particularly large scale”, Russia’s Investigative Committee announced on Tuesday.

Lieutenant General Yury Kuznetsov, the chief of the Russian Defence Ministry’s Main Personnel Directorate, was detained at home on Monday evening after law enforcement agents searched his office and residence, TASS quoted a source close to the security services as saying.

Kuznetsov is suspected of receiving a bribe from the “representatives of commercial structures” in exchange for “certain actions in their favour”, the Investigative Committee statement said, adding that over €1 million in both rubles and foreign currency was found during the searches of his homes, as well as gold coins, collectible watches and other luxury items.

Prior to taking charge of the ministry’s personnel directorate in 2023, Kuznetsov for 13 years headed the Russian army’s Eighth Directorate, which is responsible for the protection of state secrets. 

The pro-war Telegram channel Rybar, which is run by former Defence Ministry press officer Mikhail Zvinchuk and was one of the first sources to report Kuznetsov’s detention, said that the investigation into Kuznetsov was likely linked to his work handling state secrets and his potential “negligence and insufficient efforts to ensure the security of information”.

Another pro-war channel, VChK-OGPU, cited a source who said that Kuznetsov had been “detained in his own bed”, with law enforcement officers being “deliberately rough” as they broke into his house.

News of Kuznetsov’s detention comes amid a major shakeup in Russia’s Defence Ministry, with veteran Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu removed from the role after 12 years on Sunday and replaced by economist Andrey Belousov.

In April, Shoigu’s deputy Timur Ivanov was arrested on the same charge, with sources close to Russia’s Defence Ministry alleging that he may also be suspected of treason.

Rybar said that Kuznetsov’s detention formed a part of the “predictable purges” the ministry would inevitably undergo following Shoigu’s removal, with Telegram channel BRIEF citing sources in Russian law enforcement who said that further criminal cases against other military officials were likely.

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