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Russian Deputy Chief of General Staff arrested for “large-scale bribery” as military corruption probe widens

Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin, head of the Russian General Staff’s Main Communications Directorate, has been arrested on charges of accepting bribes on a “particularly large scale,” according to a Kommersant report.

Shamarin was also deputy to the Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, who currently commands all Russian forces in Ukraine.

As per a statement by the 235th Garrison Military Court, which is reviewing Shamarin’s case, the general was arrested on Wednesday and will remain in pre-trial detention until July 22.

Shamarin isn’t the first Gerasimov deputy to be arrested. In 2020, his predecessor Khalil Arslanov was brought up on charges that he had accepted significant bribes.

On Thursday afternoon, a spokesperson for Russia's Investigative Committee said that, over the past eight years, Shamarin had accepted illegal payments totaling 36 million rubles ($397,000) from a telephone factory in the city of Perm. The brines were allegedly paid in order to secure increased state orders, among other unspecified favors.

In March last year, an investigation by The Insider revealed Shamarin owned an apartment in a building on Polina Osipenko Street near the CSKA metro station in Moscow. A number of other senior army officers, such as Rear Admiral Oleg Krivorog and Yuri Lastochkin, head of Russia's radio-electronic warfare troops, were also confirmed to own apartments in the same building. The properties are estimated to be worth tens of millions of rubles each.

Shamarin is only the latest member of Russia’s top military brass to be targeted in a recent wave of purges. In April, Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was arrested. Several weeks later, Lieutenant General Yuri Kuznetsov, head of the Defense Ministry's main personnel department, and Ivan Popov, former commander of the 58th Army of the Southern Military District, were also detained and charged with the same offense — “large-scale bribery.”

Kuznetsov has been accused of receiving bribes totaling 30.5 million rubles ($336,000), while Ivanov stands accused of accepting 1.185 billion ($13 million).

All four men — Shamarin, Ivanov, Kuznetsov, and Popov — face up to 15 years behind bars if found guilty.

The arrest of multiple Russian military officials marks the largest scandal the country’s armed forces have faced in years. The wave of arrests coincides with Russia’s renewed operational momentum in Ukraine, along with the appointment of Moscow’s new defense minister, economist Andrei Belousov.

The Kremlin’s elevation of Belousov, who lacks military experience, was widely seen as part of an effort to curb waste and corruption connected with Russia’s defense expenditures. Belousov’s predecessor, Sergei Shoigu, has been moved to the role of secretary of Russia's Security Council, replacing Nikolai Patrushev, a notorious hardliner and war hawk.

Following the reshuffle, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quick to claim that Belousov’s appointment would in “no way change the current system of coordinates.” According to Peskov, “The military component has always been the prerogative of the Chief of the General Staff. [Gerasimov] will continue his activities. No changes are currently envisioned in this regard.”

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