Ex-Russian army general detained over fraud charge
Ex-Russian army general detained over fraud charge

BBC News

A former Russian army who raised concerns about the country’s high military casualties in Ukraine has been detained on suspicion of large-scale fraud.

Maj Gen Ivan Popov, 49, will be held in custody for two months, Russian state-run media reported.

His attorney was quoted by Tass news agency as saying that the general denied all the allegations.

Gen Popov was sacked as commander of the 58th army last year after publicly alleging mass deaths and injuries among Russian soldiers and lack of artillery support.

The Russian defence ministry has not commented on the issue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion against Ukraine in February 2022.

On Tuesday, Russia’s Tass and Ria Novosti news agencies cited sources as saying that Gen Popov was suspected of large-scale fraud, and his case would be handled by the 235th garrison military court.

They added that his detention was a "preventative measure" following a decision by the Moscow-based court on 17 May.

The agencies gave no further details.

Gen Popov was sacked in July 2023 after complaining publicly about Russian military problems in Ukraine.

In a widely-shared voice message, he said: "It was necessary either to keep quiet and be a coward or to say it the way it is."

"I had no right to lie in the name of you, in the name of my fallen comrades in arms, so I outlined all the problems which exist."

Among the issues Gen Popov said he had highlighted to his superiors were the lack of proper counter battery systems to help repel Ukrainian artillery attacks, as well as a lack of military intelligence.

The commander said his dismissal was demanded by senior commanders – who he accused of treason – and approved by the then Russian defence minister, Sergei Shoigu.

Mr Shoigu, President Vladimir Putin’s long-standing ally, was earlier this month replaced by Andrei Belousov – an economist with little military experience.

Analysts say the move reflects the changing priorities of the Kremlin and the huge amounts of money the Russian authorities are now pouring into the war in Ukraine – and Russia’s need to boost efficiency in the armed forces widely seen as plagued by corruption.

In recent months, there had been rumours that Mr Shoigu’s position was growing weaker. His appointment as secretary of Russia’s Security Council is seen by some Russia watchers as demotion.

In April, one of Mr Shoigu deputies – Timur Ivanov – was arrested on corruption charge.

Last week, Gen Yuriy Kuznetsov, a senior defence ministry official, was arrested in a bribery investigation.

Latest reports suggest that Mr Belousov is forming his own team in the defence ministry, getting rid of Mr Shoigu’s cadres.

In other developments on Tuesday:

  • Russia said it started its tactical nuclear weapons exercise, involving Iskander and hypersonic Kinzhal missiles.
  • Analysts say the drill is meant to serve as a warning signal by Moscow to Ukraine’s Western allies supplying Kyiv with advanced weaponry.
  • Ukraine’s military said fierce fighting continued in the country’s north-eastern and eastern regions where Russian troops have been on the offensive.

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