Russia arrests another general on bribery charges

Authorities arrest Lieutenant-General Vadim Shamarin, latest in a string of bribery arrests of high-ranking officials.

Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin
Lieutenant-General Vadim Shamarin, deputy head of the army's general staff, is seen in this image on October 6, 2023 [Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via Reuters]

Marking the fourth arrest of a high-ranking military official in a month, Russia has detained Lieutenant-General Vadim Shamarin, deputy head of the army’s general staff, on suspicion of large-scale bribe-taking.

A military court ordered on Wednesday that Shamarin, who also heads the Ministry of Defence’s main communications directorate, be jailed for two months, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

Shamarin’s detention follows the arrests of other top defence officials as part of an effort to stamp out corruption relating to the awarding of lucrative military contracts.

Earlier this month, Major-General Ivan Popov, a former top commander in Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, and Lieutenant-General Yuri Kuznetsov, head of the Defence Ministry’s personnel directorate, were arrested on bribery charges.

In April, Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov, a close associate of former Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, was also arrested for alleged bribery. President Vladimir Putin later dismissed Shoigu as defence minister soon after his inauguration in May, replacing him with economist Andrei Belousov.

Shoigu had been widely blamed for Russia’s failure to capture Kyiv early in the Ukraine fighting and was accused of incompetence and corruption by Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the mercenary Wagner Group, who died in a plane crash last year after launching a “failed mutiny”.

Three other people have also been arrested as part of the crackdown – a friend of Ivanov, a boss at a construction company alleged to have paid bribes, and the former head of several companies subordinate to the Defence Ministry.

Shamarin is a deputy to General Valery Gerasimov, head of the general staff. Gerasimov has not been accused of any wrongdoing, though he has at times faced harsh criticism over the performance of Russia’s military in the war in Ukraine.

The Kremlin denied on Thursday that authorities were carrying out a targeted purge.

“The fight against corruption is an ongoing effort. It is not a campaign. It is an integral part of the activities of law enforcement agencies,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Major assault

The arrests and change of leadership at the Defence Ministry comes as Russian forces made one of its most significant battlefield advances in 18 months with a major assault on Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region.

The latest Russian attacks on the city of Kharkiv, the regional capital, killed six people and injured at least 16, local authorities said on Thursday.

Governor Oleh Syniehubov said Russian forces struck Kharkiv about 10 times. The attack also targeted Zolochiv and Liubotyn in the Kharkiv region, injuring at least two people in each town, he said.

Posting on Telegram, Syniehubov reported that nearly 11,000 people had been forced to leave their homes in the region since Russian forces launched their ground attack on May 10.

Meanwhile, Ukraine launched a drone at a village in Russia’s Belgorod border region and shelled the occupied city of Gorlivka in its east on Thursday, killing two people, local authorities said.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on Thursday that its air defence systems in Belgorod destroyed three Olkha and 32 Vampire rockets and three drones launched by Ukraine overnight.

The Kremlin says its new Kharkiv offensive is aimed at creating a “security zone” to prevent future Ukrainian attacks across its border.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies