No One to Avoid Punishment in Oboronservis Case

MOSCOW, June 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said all those involved in the scams connected to the corrupt Oboronservis defense property services company will be punished under the law.

“I have repeatedly said this and I will again repeat: one should not guess and make forecast. No one intends to withdraw or relieve anyone of responsibility. Whoever did something will respond for this. Investigators will thoroughly check into the matter and the court will dot the i’s and cross the t’s,” Fridinsky said in an interview with the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily to be published on Monday.

Oboronservis has been at the center of a high-profile scandal since late last year, after several of its managers were arrested on suspicion of fraud involving the illegal sale of ministry property. The then Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov resigned shortly after the scandal broke, and was replaced by Sergei Shoigu, who was previously the Emergencies Situations Minister.

Serdyukov was subsequently questioned twice by investigators about various instances of fraud within the ministry, but has not yet been charged.

Fridinsky has praised cooperation between the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office and the Defense Ministry led by Shoigu, saying that the work with the new leadership has become “more efficient.”

He pointed to the “fresh examples” – the dismissal of Sergei Khursevich, the head of the Oboronservis defense property services company, in May. Fridinsky made the appeal to Shoigu to dismiss the official following allegations Khursevich interfered with a contract to buy Italian-built Iveco military vehicles in order to avoid paying import duties.

The Russian Defense Ministry as a whole suffered losses of 13 billion rubles ($430 million) from mismanagement and fraud in 2012, Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin said previously. The ministry lost 7.5 billion ($240 million) from corruption alone, with crimes involving Oboronservis management costing 4 billion rubles ($130 million), he said.


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