THE SERDYUKOV AFFAIR

Discussion in 'Russian Politics' started by Alexander Mercouris, May 23, 2013.

  1. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Shoigu has just made his first report as Defence Minister to the Duma. Here is a report about it from Itar Tass.

    http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c142/746077.html

    If one judges by this report then Serdyukov was not just a corrupt minister but also a very incompetent one. He seems to have had no understanding of the need for long lead times in military procurement contracts, which doubtless provides one reason, if not the main reason, for the repeated yearly failures in the procurement plans. I cannot think of a more certain way to disorganise a complex procurement process than to shift money around continuously from one assigned purpose to another, which is what Shoigu says was happening. Given that this is money that was provided from the Federal budget I wonder about the legality of the practice.

    This gives rise to a number of questions:

    1. Firstly, given what we already know, there has to be the unhappy possibility that this shifting of money around was being done deliberately to make it easier for Serdyukov's "assistants" and obviously for Serdyukov himself to help themselves and himself to it. As anyone who has worked in a large organisation knows, there's no better way to lose track of money than to move it continuously around. Proper accounting and budgeting becomes impossible making it far easier for some of the money to stick to someone's fingers. It also becomes much easier to conceal bribes and kickbacks. If this is true then the Oboronservis affair could be simply the tip of the iceberg and we may be in for far more dramatic revelations to come;

    2. Putting that unfortunately very real possibility for the moment to one side, it is beginning to look as if Serdyukov was totally out of his depth and never established proper control over his ministry. Instead the whole ministry over which he supposedly presided seems to have descended into chaos. Taking for a moment a charitable explanation of the Oboronservis affair, it would be hardly surprising in that case if given the breakdown of control some officials took advantage of the situation to enrich themselves. It would explain why Serdyukov, out of a sense of desperation, turned to purchases of off the shelf foreign equipment as a way out of his problems and why he focused so much time on trivial questions such as redesigning the army's uniforms instead of concentrating on the big questions, which he obviously had no answers to.

    None of this is surprising. Serdyukov's background was that of a salesman and bookkeeper not a projects manager. Looking back it's clear that he was a disastrous choice and it is a mystery why such an unsuitable individual was appointed to such a key post at all. Beyond question his was the worst appointment of the Putin era, and it is remarkable and very disturbing that he remained in office for so long.

    I have to say that all this does not reflect well either on Putin (who originally appointed Serdyukov to his post) or to Medvedev (who kept him there and grotesquely continued even after his dismissal to refer to him as a "good minister") or to the country's and the government's control mechanisms, which failed to detect the spreading chaos in one of the country's critical ministries even as one annual procurement plan after another failed. Of course if you believe (which I don't) that Russian government appointments are simply the result of clan politics and krysha then the question of why Serdyukov was appointed and remained in his post for so long disappears, only to be replaced by the new question of why in that case he came to be dismissed.

    The national media also fell badly down. Not only did the corruption and chaos in the Defence Ministry go largely unreported but the more liberal parts of the media instinctively sided with Serdyukov in his conflicts with the country's military and industrial leadership. The fact that he appeared to be a "reformist" was apparently enough to guarantee him support. I recall reading at least one article that referred to Serdyukov as one of the successful reformist stars in Medvedev's government. For far too many people "reform" has become a fetish that excuses everything with the results we have seen.

    Historically the most effective and successful Russian Defence Ministers in the modern era have been individuals who were good organisers, strong managers and technocrats. Examples include Voroshilov (an unjustly maligned figure because of his loyalty to Stalin who however largely created the Red Army that defeated Hitler), Bulganin and Ustinov. The one good thing that seems to have come out of the Serdyukov affair is that Serdyukov has been replaced by Shoigu, who seems to be someone of the same sort.
  2. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Almost a daily feature now!

    More dirt dished by Komsomolskaya Pravda on Serdyukov as regards the fantastic wealth accrued by his brother-in-law, who suddenly ceased to be a tractor driver and vegetable grower in southern Russia after his having moved from there to Petersburg after Serdyukov had become tax chief in the northern capital and then, later, Ministry of Defence.

    The former tractor driver now owns 92 pieces of real estate, a fleet of luxury vehicles, boats, a Petersburg classic mansion house, businesses, real estate etc. etc. (See linked article below)

    And then there’s the origin of Tolya’s girlfrend’s wealth to take into consideration as well: she who is now enduring “house arrest” in Moscow. Here’s another one of KP’s regular stories about the dynamic duo, this time about how Yevgeniya Vasilyeva spends her time shopping in between her having to endure house arrest that has already lasted 6 months: Как живется Евгении Васильевой: Шопинг элитной арестантки из «Оборонсервиса» (How Yevgeniya Vasilyeva lives her life: “Oboronservis” elite prisoner out shopping)

    Yet Serdyukov is still only considered to be “witness” to embezzlement that occured on an unbelievable scale.

    That such embezzlement has taken place is not denied, but Tolya knew nothing of it, see: they all tricked him, the boss.

    You know, the boss who got the top job because he was so good at being – well – a boss.

    «Таким образом, все очевиднее становится, что господин Сердюков так и останется «свидетелем» хищений и злоупотреблений своих подчиненных, которые, как считает следствие, совершая сделки с военным имуществом, федеральными землями и лесами, вводили его в заблуждение»

    ["Thus it is becoming ever more obvious that Mr. Serdyukov will remain a 'witness' to his subordinates' theft and abuse of their powers, which subordinates, according to the investigators, misinformed him about their deals with military property, federal lands and forests."]

    See: Прокуратура отмазала Сердюкова от уголовного дела
    [Prosecutors are helping Serdyukov dodge criminal prosecution.]

    Why has he not been charged with anything yet?

    Could it be that this has not happened out of fear of him putting the finger on others – others higher than he in authority?

    And who can be higher than a government minister?

    Only two are higher: the prime minister and the president, I should think.

    And perhaps some senior military personnel?

    Something is rotten here.

    See: Родственникам Сердюкова удалось скупить 92 объекта недвижимости

    Former tractor driver and vegetable grower turned entrepreneur Valery Puzikov is married to Serdyukov’s sister, Galina Puzikova. They all hail from the Krasnodar Region of southern Russia.

    All the dirt on Serdyukov has been known for a long while.

    See: Serdyukov Anatoly Eduardovich, Defence Minister

    Why is he being protected?

    This is an absolutely outrageous state of affairs and all too typical of the incompetency of the Russian authorities in image management, to say nothing of its so-called campaign against corruption and criminality.

    The conditions which Serdyukov’s mistress has to “endure” under house arrest compares unfavourably with those that the so-called feminist punk-rock musician and artist and darling of the West, Tolokonnikova, has recently described and which has certainly not gone unnoticed amongst critics of Russia - and nor should it - in both the West and Russia as well.

    The fact is that someone at the top…

    No, not "someone": Putin himself must be protecting him.

    Serdyukov swaggers around and refuses to answer IC questions some 6 months after the shit hit the fan and is still considered as merely a witness to the case because he is, for whatever reason, untouchable.

    And he knows it.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2013
  3. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    Except that Serdyukov was appointed Defence Minister to reduce corruption after an audit was conducted that, according to publicity at the time, showed 70% of the army's budget was lost to corruption. (I suspect that this was misreporting and the correct statement was that 70% of purchase contracts were subject to corruption - a figure recently reported for a sample of audited Federal Government contracts in various ministries). Buying foreign equipment through a different purchasing team et al would be a competitive correction to such corruption. It gets to the systematic problem without trying to plough through individual cases. Given his remit and his initial purges of the generals, he had some very serious enemies amongst the military and major industrialists. hence the present legal attack. If he was so previously corrupt and close to the lawyers' clan, how did he get a job with such a remit? There's another page to turn yet.
  4. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    Your E2012 reference sent a few shivers down my spine. I have dealt with businesses owned by the Tambov mob and with close relatives of people named. Without result, perhaps fortunately. The St Petersburg Hotel is an anomaly. It is magnificently restored but it has not joined any international booking system. It's a perfect candidate for Best Western.
  5. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    I take the diametrically opposite view. I see no evidence of anybody protecting Serdyukov. What I see on the contrary is overwhelming evidence of a campaign to discredit him. This is by carried out through selective leaking of a criminal investigation, which if it were to happen in Britain, Germany or France (but perhaps not in Italy or the US) would fall foul of the sub judice rule and would certainly be forbidden. If this continues in this way for much longer it might actually jeopardise Serdyukov's prospects of getting a fair trial.

    I have no brief for Serdyukov. On the contrary he comes across to me as an arrogant, incompetent and almost certainly corrupt minister. However merely because something is "obvious" to most people, that doesn't mean it can be proved in a Court of law. Obtaining a conviction in a properly conducted trial requires actual evidence not assumption based on association and innuendo. Such evidence in a case of this sort can only take the form of witness testimony or a paper trail. It is quite obvious that at this comparatively early stage of the investigation that evidence has not yet come to light.

    It is not evidence of Serdyukov's guilt that his brother has suddenly become rich. Asserting Serdyukov's guilt on that basis is to insist on guilt by association, which amounts to convicting Serdyukov on no evidence at all. Nor is it a crime for Vassilievna to go shopping however tasteless her behaviour may seem. At the moment she has not been convicted of anything and the presumption of innocence applies to her. There is no possible comparison to Tolokonnikova, who by contrast has been both convicted and sentenced. Bear in mind that there is not the slightest indication that Vassilievna has ever at any time sought to breach the terms of her bail or constitutes any possible absconding risk.

    Even if the Russian authorities were willing or able to convict Serdyukov and Vassilievna on the basis of association and innuendo and without evidence the European Court of Human Rights would in that case undoubtedly declare the whole Judgment wrong on the grounds that Serdyukov had been denied a fair trial and on the basis of a politically motivated charge. Given that such an outcome would be deeply embarrassing for Russia to say the least I cannot see what purpose is served by demanding that the authorities bring charges against Serdyukov before they are ready.

    Let me say it again: these sort of cases take years. To expect charges to be brought against Serdyukov in a case of this kind only months after the launch of the first investigation is to completely misunderstand how criminal investigations of this sort are conducted. We are probably months or even years from charges being brought. These things are not to be hurried and in the meantime Vassilievna for all her shopping trips remains under house arrest and on bail and Serdyukov remains under observation with his political career brought to a disgraceful end.

    What is of far more interest and concern to me is not who is "protecting" Serdyukov (on the basis of the evidence I have seen the answer to that is almost certainly no one) but rather who is conducting the campaign to discredit him. Komsomolskaya Pravda is normally considered a pro government newspaper and this campaign obviously has official sanction at least at some level. These leaks could only happen with the active collusion of the Investigative Committee. Serdyukov has antagonised the Investigative Committee by his arrogant manner and his refusal to answer questions and it is likely that this campaign is in part its revenge. However I suspect that behind it all there are also the powerful forces within the country's defence establishment who Serdyukov antagonised during his time as defence minister. In "Russia 1917", his classic study of the tsarist government on the eve of the Revolution, the Russian émigré historian George Katkov spoke despairingly of "the classic methods of Russian higher politics including anonymous denunciations". It is deeply depressing a century later to see these "classic methods" still in use.
  6. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    At last!

    They’ve charged her!

    One down, one more to go!

    See: Васильевой предъявили окончательные обвинения, а Сердюков остается свидетелем

    Translation (part):

    Vasilyeva presented with final charge; Serdyukov remains as a witness

    She is to be judged on 12 counts [photos, video]

    On Friday, October 4, it was announced that the former boss of the Russian Ministry of Defense Property Department, Evgenia Vasilyeva – a key business supernumerary of “Oboronservis” – has finally been charged on all counts.

    “Now Evgeniya Nikolaevna has been charged on several counts of fraud on a large scale, following which the case has been allocated to a separate procedure and will be referred to the court”, “Interfax” was told this morning by a source familiar with the situation.

    Later it was reported that Vasilyeva had been charged on 12 counts. According to the Investigative Committee website: “She has been charged on 12 counts of crimes referred to in Articles 159, 174.1, 285.286 of the Criminal Code (fraud, legalization of money or other property criminally acquired, and excess and abuse of power)”.

    By the way…

    During search of Eugenia Vasilyeva’s apartment there were seized 51,000 precious stones and 19 kgs of gold and platinum.


    End of translation

    Part of Vasilyeva's stash:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Her stash is estimated to be worth 130 million (130,000,000) rubles - that's over $4 million!
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  7. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    And Serdyukov never noticed the Aladdin's cave nature of his fancy woman's apartment when making social calls there?

    Don't set your hopes too high though!

    The "roof" is still protecting these poor victims, Serdyukova and his playmate:

    Сердюкова и Васильеву признали жертвами мошенничества

    Part translation:

    Serdyukov and Vasilieva acknowledged as victims of fraud

    Ex-minister did not realize what he was signing, and his mistress did not know what she had bought.

    The final charge of the "Oboronservis" case has been filed by the Main Military Investigation Department against its suspects, which include the former head of the Ministry of Defence Property Department, Yevgenia Vasilieva. Under the fourth part of Article 159 of the Criminal Code, the former defence minister's mistress has been accused of the most serious charge of "fraud " as well as under Articles dealing with "money laundering", "abuse of office", and "abuse of power ". In total she has been charged with 12 criminal acts.

    End

    But wait for it, wait for it:

    Translation (continued):

    But the "bottom line" in the final version of the charges is the idea that Anatoly Serdyukov, under whose consent was committed the theft of billions of rubles worth of state property by Vasilyeva and other officials, was simply "misled".

    End

    I don't see why the headline states that both Serdyukov and his buxom little Chickadee (she reminds me a little of Mae West) are both "victims of fraud", whereas the article only reports that it is claimed that the former furniture salesman definitely is such a "victim".

    Someone is well looking after Tolya.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  8. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    More on the luxurious lifestyle of Serdyukov's lady friend Vasilieva, as reported in today's KP: Красиво жить не запретишь: «КП» заглянула в квартиру арестантки Васильевой (It's nice living to the manner born: KP takes a peep into the arrested Vasilieva's apartment)

    Only last week it was reported that "witness" Serdyukov has also been given another government post. See:
    Сердюков назначен советником гендиректора "Ростехнологий" (Serdyukov appointed adviser to the general director of "Russian Technologies") and here.

    And there have been other reports on and off about the dynamic duo, e.g. she's going to work for Khodorkovsky's lawyer; they've been pressurizing other witnesses.


  9. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    At last!

    He's going to be charged - with negligence!!!

    What a joke!

    Совершилось: против Сердюкова возбуждено уголовное дело
    (Completed: criminal case made against Serdyukov)

    Former minister accused of negligence
    Recent hints made by the Investigative Committee leadership have not remained as so many empty words: former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov is really going to be prosecuted. However, they are only talking here about the former official's very minor offences.
    On Thursday, IC spokesman Vladimir Markin spoke of the initiation of proceedings concerning "negligence ". According to investigations, Serdyukov's actions have resulted in losses estimated at 56 million rubles.


    The "negligence" charges concern the building of a road for his brother-in-law's fishing cottage situated at the Volga delta.
    Looks like naughty, naughty Serdyukov is about to receive an official slap on the wrist.
    Reports say that he might get sent down for 3 months, which if he is (hardly likely, I should think), then that will only be grist to the mill for the Pussy Riot international fan club.

    (Amended the above: one year suspended he might get, or 3 months inside.)
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
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  10. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    Was just going to post this - thanks for doing so, @Moscow Exile .

    I agree, it is a joke. But better than nothing. Let's be honest, "slaps on the wrist" are de rigeur for the elites pretty much everywhere (except maybe Scandinavia, and the UK/Germany/Benelux to an extent), and doing this - as opposed to nothing - alone moves Russia far closer to "international standards" on such matters. Let us recall that even someone with an atypically high opinion of Russia's justice system like @Alexander Mercouris was not sure it would come to this stage.

    I suspect it will end with a (pre-agreed) plea/suspended sentence.
  11. José Moreira

    José Moreira High Commissar Staff Member

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    I wouldn't be surprised if he his charged of corruption later as other people will start testifying against him. To me it looks like the prosecution is working to slowly weaken his defenses in the system.

    I hope someone will write his memoirs about this one day! :)
  12. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    His floozy, on the other hand, has become something of a "celebrity".

    She was interviewed the other day by another so-called celebrity, Sob-check, in her luxury pad, where she has been a prisoner since last year. She made no mention of the source of her wealth, just basked smugly in the opulence that surrounded her.

    See: Евгения Васильева: Я горжусь, что сумела сдержать удар по Сердюкову

    (I'm proud to be taking the rap for Serdyukov)

    "I do not know whether Anatoly Serdyukov had to take the full rap", said Vasilyeva, "But what I am proud of is being able to take this rap. I am a decent person, I do not wish anyone harm, I believe in God. I'm never going to betray anyone. I know that Serdyukov never gave illegal orders, and I never saw them carried out".

    Poor dear!
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  13. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    As people who followed my opinions about this case will know, I have always thought it more likely than not that Serdyukov would eventually face a charge but I have also thought it more likely than not that it would not be a charge that reflected the seriousness of what he had done. I have also always thought and I still think (as does Anatoly Karlin) that this case is very likely to end in a plea bargain.

    The reason I have always thought these things is not because I have any real doubt about Serdyukov's corruption and of his personal involvement in the corrupt schemes that have wracked the Defence Ministry under his watch (see my very first comment on this thread) or because I thought he was being protected by someone (see my second comment) but because personal experience tells me how difficult it is in these cases of high level corruption and embezzlement to secure a conviction. Again I would repeat what I have said previously, which is that the mere fact that Serdyukov's brother is rich or that Vasilieva has a stash in her multiroom apartment, is not in itself evidence against Serdyukov that can be used in a Court of law. There has to be witness evidence and/or a paper trail directly linking Serdyukov to some or all of these corrupt activities, which the prosecution is in a position to say cannot be interpreted in any way other than as evidence of his guilt. Given that Serdyukov was presumably taking steps to conceal what he was up to, that sort of evidence almost by definition is going to be difficult to find.

    It has not helped matters in this case that judging from media reports Serdyukov is being investigated by two rival teams of investigators - one from the Investigative Committee and one from the military Procurator's Office - who appear much of the time to be in bitter rivalry and disagreement with each other. Conflicts of this sort invariably complicate investigations and can even wreck them completely.

    What I would say about this case at the moment is this:

    1. It is by no means impossible that what Jose Moreira is saying is true and that this is only the first charge and that more serious charges may follow. I would like to believe that but I have to say based again on personal experience that I would not be personally surprised if the present charge is as good as it gets because it is the best that the prosecution can realistically prove for the reasons I have previously given;

    2. If more serious charges are brought against Serdyukov, I again repeat that it is more likely than not that the case will still end in a plea bargain, which makes it unlikely that Serdyukov will receive the sort of punishment people (including me) want him to receive and which he arguably deserves. However I want to say again that the likely reason for this is not because Serdyukov is being protected by someone but because a plea bargain is a cost effective way of securing a conviction in a complex case where because of the difficulties presented by the evidence a conviction cannot otherwise be guaranteed.

    3. Even if the best that can be achieved is a conviction for criminal negligence, that is a great deal better than nothing and it is certainly not a joke. Though it only comes with a potential 3 month prison sentence, it is a criminal conviction nonetheless. In addition, though I don't know this for a fact, there must at least be a strong possibility that if Serdyukov is convicted under this charge a civil claim from the Defence Ministry for compensation for the economic loss he has caused will follow. This would only cover the loss caused by the actual negligence Serdyukov had been convicted for, not the loss caused by the whole Oboronservis scandal and its many permutations. However it would still be a substantial amount of money and probably more than Serdyukov could easily pay.

    In summary, I know most people take a much more negative view of the Russian legal system than I do. However my frank opinion is that if this case were happening anywhere in western Europe (including Britain) its conduct and eventual outcome would be little different from what is proving to be the case in Russia whilst based on what I have read in the media about defence procurement practices and management in the US it is perhaps unlikely such a case would be brought there at all.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2013
  14. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Let me provide a direct western parallel with the Oboronservis scandal, which was the Lockheed bribery scandal of the 1970s, actually an immeasurably bigger scandal than the Oboronservis scandal.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_bribery_scandals

    Very few of the top politicians involved in the scandal were prosecuted over it. In Germany Manfred Worner and Franz Josef Strauss retained their political prominence. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands was never prosecuted despite the clear evidence against him and his own admissions because he was protected by his wife Queen Juliana a case of top level krysha if ever there was one. In Japan the Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka was convicted but never served his four year sentence and continued to dominate Japanese politics as a sort of backstairs shadow Shogun from behind the scenes until shortly before his death.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakuei_Tanaka
  15. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    And (just in time delivery) a charge has arrived. Not a very big one, to be true, but a sign that the investigators are chewing away.

    MOSCOW, November 28 (RIA Novosti) – A criminal case on negligence charges has been opened against former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, Russian investigators said Thursday.

    Serdyukov caused 56 million rubles ($1.7 million) worth of damage to the state by ordering serving soldiers to build infrastructure for an elite holiday resort, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

    While he has been repeatedly questioned as a witness, this is the first time a criminal case has been opened against Serdyukov, who was fired by President Vladimir Putin last November amid allegations of high level graft.

    Under Russian law, negligence carries a maximum punishment of three months in prison.

    Investigators said Serdyukov had given verbal commands to his subordinates to use soldiers to build a private road to the Zhitnoye leisure complex near the Caspian Sea, and for building work at the resort itself.


    http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131128/18...iminal-Case-into-Former-Defense-Minister.html
  16. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    According to his report in today's KP:

    Следователи держат в рукаве более суровые козыри и статьи УК для Анатолия Сердюкова
    (Investigators have more trumps up their sleeve as regards articles of the criminal code and Anatoly Serdyukov)

    It seems that Serdyukov's lawyers were surprised with the levelling of a charge of criminal negligence against the former minister and that such a charge has knocked them out of their stride somewhat. Serdyukov has been summoned by the Investigatory
    Committee (the Russian FBI, so to speak) to appear before them on December 5th. It looks like Serdyukov is trying to wriggle out of this by being admitted to hospital: he is said to be preparing to go to hospital for treatment over the next fortnight. It also reported that Serdyukov has not been seen present at his new plum posting that had been set up for him a few weeks ago.

    Looks like Alexander Mercouris' theory that they're putting the pressure on the former
    minister to make an out of court decision is looking very likely.

    From the above linked KP article:

    "Criminal charges against Anatoly Serdyukov have not only added more colour to the now year long detective story concerning the defence money scam, it also affects the dispositions of the prosecution and defence in criminal cases. It seems that a new round of complex legal manoeuvres are now beginning, suggests KP military Military observer Victor Baranez.

    "Judging by the statements of the former defense minister's lawyers, the news of the criminal charge against their client had come as a surprise. And now, of course, they are going to need time to develop new defence tactics.

    "...In addition, there is a rumour that for a fortnight now the former minister has not appeared at his new new job (On 1 November he became CEO of the Federal Engineering Research Test Centre) and seems to be even going to hospital in the near future so as to avoid a meeting with the investigators and to gain time."
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  17. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    One thing I notice in big prosecutions in the former Soviet world is how rapidly the health of the accused is said to decline. Even in formerly healthy types like Tymoshenko.
  18. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    A classic example of this sudden onset of dire health problems amongst those against whom criminal charges have been levelled occurred when Sobchak's father, Anatoly, absconded to Paris on a private plane without passport processing after pressure had been put on him as regards "irregularities" during his tenure as mayor of St. Petersburg: he was accused of the illegal privatization of his own apartment and that of his elder daughter as well as his wife's art studio.

    The reason given for his sudden flight was that he needed urgent medical treatment in a Paris hospital for a heart condition, but Sobchak never checked in at the hospital and between 1997 and 1999 he lived the life of a political exile in Paris.

    Ironically, after Putin had become Prime Minister, charges against Sobchak were dropped and he returned to Russia where, 7 months later, he dropped dead - because of a heart attack.
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  19. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Just to reiterate that my somewhat bleak analysis of this case in no sense reflects any sympathy for Serdyukov or Vasilieva. By any measure this duo have done very real harm to the country and to its defence capacity. Certainly I consider them criminals of any entirely different order to say Navalny. Unfortunately it is too often the dismal truth that in the words of the Cynic philosopher Anarchasis the law is like a spider's web, able to catch small flies but unable to hold big ones.
  20. Robert

    Robert Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    Anarchasis was absolutely right. Another example would be Merry England where so far not one banker has faced criminal prosecutions for fraud even after the 2008 meltdown and the Libor scandal. There is abundant evidence that London is the centre of global financial fraud, worse than Wall Street. All that's happened so far is that Sir Fred the Shred has had his knighthood taken away. Well gosh what a deprivation that must be.

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