MOSCOW, March 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the country’s military-industrial complex, called on Friday for harsher punishments for corrupt officials who “betray the motherland” by siphoning funds from defense projects.
“These crimes must be punished in the harshest possible manner,” Rogozin told a meeting of officials from the Russian Federal Service for Defense Contracts (Rosoboronzakaz).
“These crimes, connected with theft in this sphere, connected with the defense capability of the country are, in essence, a betrayal of the motherland,” he added, labeling those who commit such crimes “vultures.”
Russian investigators are currently probing a huge fraud case within the Oboronservis defense property management company, involving state assets worth at least $130 million. The investigation has so far led to the ouster of Anatoly Serdyukov as Defense Minister.
In October 2012, Transparency International released a study of 129 world defense companies, which listed Russian defense firms and arms exporters as among the least transparent in the world.
Corruption in the defense sphere is part of much wider problem in Russia, where graft is believed by analysts to cost the state billions of dollars a year.