Criminal proceedings launched against former Russian defense minister
MOSCOW, November 28 (RAPSI) – Investigators have launched a criminal case against former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov; the estimated damage is 56 million rubles ($1.7 million), the Investigative Committee's official spokesman Vladimir Markin said Thursday.
Investigators believe that Serdyukov personally supervised construction work at the Zhitnoye resort in the Volga River delta, which was carried out by military personnel from a nearby air defense test site. This place was owned by Valery Puzikov, who is married to Serdyukov’s sister.
Serdyukov told investigators earlier that the Zhitnoye resort's owners had promised to remunerate the servicemen who worked there with discounted vacations. However, there were no reports of military personnel subsequently vacationing at the luxury resort, Kommersant daily reported in March.
Izvestia then reported that those who testified against Serdyukov include former Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov and Astrakhan Region Governor Alexander Zhilkin.
Sources in the regional administration and law enforcement agencies said the generals and Zhilkin all alleged that Serdyukov was personally involved in the Zhitnoye project. According to Serdyukov's letter to Governor Zhilkin, dated December 8, 2010, he asked the regional authorities to allocate a plot of land for building a hunting-and-fishing center for the Defense Ministry.
Serdyukov's attorney Genrikh Padva told Izvestia that the investigators have Zhilkin's and generals' testimony about his client's personal involvement in the construction of a road to the Zhitnoye resort.
A criminal case involving the road project and Puzikov's summer house has been opened under an article on abuse of power. Then it only involved "unnamed Defense Ministry officials."
The Zhitnoye resort is a popular VIP destination. Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev reportedly visited for a fishing trip in summer 2011. The former defense minister and his closest friends were the most frequent guests at the resort, which is also known as "a Defense Ministry dacha."
Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was dismissed amid a loud corruption scandal ensued in November 2012 to ensure the impartiality of the criminal investigation. He has so far been summoned for questioning as a witness in embezzlement cases linked to Oboronservis defense property services company.