Defense Ministry Seeks to Reclaim Lost Property

MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Defense Ministry has been fighting since December to recover the real estate lost in a series of scams connected to the corrupt Oboronservis defense property services company, a ministry official who requested anonymity told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.

His comments come in response to media reports saying that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has sent a letter to Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin asking that shares in a defense-related agency, Special Construction Projects Institute No. 31, be impounded.

“Both then and now the Russian Defense Ministry’s main goal has been to regain the property, especially facilities that are of major importance for the defense department,” the official said.

Legal action is also being taken over other deals, and includes the reversal of some of the ministry’s previous orders, he said.

Russia’s defense sector has been rocked over the past few months by a string of corruption scandals that led to the sacking in November of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.

Oboronservis was at the heart of the most high-profile scandal, in which several people employed by the company were arrested late last year on suspicion of fraud totaling over 13 billion rubles ($430 million) involving the illegal sale of ministry property.

Dmitry Kurakin, head of the Defense Ministry’s property department, previously acknowledged that the ministry could find it difficult to recover the property if the courts find that the deals were conducted legally.

The lawsuits are expected to focus primarily on transactions that could have potentially impacted the Armed Forces’ combat readiness, particularly the sale of a fuel terminal in Murmansk, defense analysts said.

The terminal, which supplied fuel to ships from Russia’s Northern Fleet, was sold off by Oboronservis at a price far below market value and later resold.


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