Yevgeny Prigozhin, Ally of Russian Defence Minister, Detained on Corruption Charges

Prominent Russian defense allies arrested on corruption charges, highlighting power struggles and graft within the military elite.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Yevgeny Prigozhin, Ally of Russian Defence Minister, Detained on Corruption Charges

Yevgeny Prigozhin, Ally of Russian Defence Minister, Detained on Corruption Charges

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a prominent ally of Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, was detained in Russia on April 25, 2024, on corruption charges. Prigozhin oversaw a wide variety of construction and logistics projects for the Russian armed forces, including in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

Anti-corruption activists had long concentrated on Prigozhin's extravagant lifestyle. This is the most prominent corruption takedown since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022. Corruption is widespread in the Russian government, and getting caught is often more about power struggles within the Russian elite than a sudden appreciation for transparency.

Why this matters: The arrest of Prigozhin, a high-profile ally of Defence Minister Shoigu, underscores the ongoing power struggles and corruption within the Russian military and political elite. It also prompts questions about the future of Shoigu, who has faced criticism from pro-war hawks.

The arrest comes just a day after Timur Ivanov, a Russian Deputy Defence Minister and long-time ally of Shoigu, was remanded in custody on suspicion of accepting large bribes. Ivanov, who oversaw construction and procurement for the armed forces, was linked to Russia's high-profile rebuilding of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. He faces up to 15 years in prison for bribe-taking 'on a particularly large scale'.

Ivanov denies the charges, but independent Russian media have alleged that he and his family acquired vast wealth through kickbacks on contracts he approved at the Ministry. The arrest is viewed as a rare high-profile corruption case in Russia, with activists arguing that the enormous sums being poured into the Ukraine offensive have given officials new opportunities to enrich themselves.

Former Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin had previously accused Shoigu and other Defence Ministry officials of corruption and incompetence. While Shoigu has faced criticism from pro-war hawks, he is not yet in trouble, but his future may become clearer when Vladimir Putin names a new cabinet in the coming weeks. The Kremlin has refused to comment directly on the arrests, but said there will be an investigation.

Key Takeaways

  • Yevgeny Prigozhin, ally of Defense Minister Shoigu, arrested on corruption charges.
  • Timur Ivanov, Russian Deputy Defense Minister, remanded in custody for bribery.
  • Arrests highlight ongoing power struggles and corruption within Russian military elite.
  • Prigozhin's arrest raises questions about Shoigu's future, who faces criticism from pro-war hawks.
  • Kremlin promises investigation, but arrests seen as rare high-profile corruption cases in Russia.