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Serdyukov refusal to testify may be viewed as an attempt to obstruct the investigation

January 11, 2013, 16:01 UTC+3

Status of former Defence Minister in Oboronservis case may change, spokesman for the Investigative Committee said

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MOSCOW, January 11 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov has again refused to testify in the Oboronservis fraud case. This position may be regarded as an attempt to impede the investigation, especially since the investigation has many questions to him, spokesman for the Investigative Committee of Russia (SK) Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass. According to him, the procedural status of Serdyukov in the case may change.

“Today, former Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, along with his lawyer timely arrived for questioning to the Main Military Investigation Directorate of the Investigative Committee of Russia and submitted to the investigator several sheets of paper with his explanations in which he outlined his version of the sale of property of the Defence Ministry. However, the former minister refused to testify verbally, referring to Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which, as you know, gives the citizens the right not to incriminate themselves of their close relatives,” said the SK official.

He explained that every citizen has the right to choose his line in a criminal case. “Serdyukov has chosen this path. It is certainly legitimate, but for the investigation it is at least puzzling,” Markin said.

He recalled that just recently the former leadership of the RF Defence Ministry has pledged to help in all possible way the investigation to clarify the circumstances of the criminal activity and establish the scope of officials and businessmen involved in the theft of property of the Ministry of Defence. “In this situation, the investigation may regard the position of the former defence minister as his attempt to obstruct the investigation,” said Markin.

In his view, if the former defence minister believes that he is not involved in the events that are currently being investigated, it would be quite logical for him to answer concrete questions of the investigators. “But Mr. Serdyukov together with the lawyer found that it would be easier to outline in a free form a version of the events advantageous for him, and not to answer the investigators’ uncomfortable questions on the merits,” said the Investigative Committee spokesman.

“However, the investigation has a lot of questions to Serdyukov on how decisions were made on the sale of real estate of the Ministry of Defence, why the transactions were made at certain prices,” said Markin.

“Having not received answers to any of these questions, the investigators will be establishing criminal episodes and collect related evidence by the operational search action. We need to conduct a lot of complicated expert examinations, to question witnesses, to conduct many other necessary investigative actions. It is quite possible that the procedural status of Anatoly Serdyukov during the investigation may change,” said the SK official.

He recalled that 10 criminal cases on the illegal sale by the Oboronservis holding of large realty objects of the Defence Ministry, including military institutes’ building complexes, land plots in the Krasnodar Territory, the building of Soyuz Hotel and Voyentorg shop in Moscow, a warehouse facility in the Odintsovo district, an oil transhipment complex of the Northern Fleet in Murmansk Region and others have already been consolidated.

According to preliminary calculations, the damage from the real estate deals is about 4 billion roubles. Charges have already been brought within this criminal case against former head of the Legal Support Centre Expert Yekaterina Smetanova, her husband - former director general of a warehouse of the Air Force of the Moscow District Maxim Zakutailo and former head of the Department of Property Relations of the Russian Defence Ministry Yevgeniya Vasilyeva.

“In addition, another three criminal cases over theft by the Slavyanka company of funds of the Defence Ministry allocated for the maintenance and servicing of buildings have been consolidated. Charged within the criminal case have been brought against Alexander Yelkin, Andrei Lugansky and Yulia Rotanova,” the SK official stated.

Within this criminal case the damage to the state is preliminarily assessed at more than 400 million roubles. “In addition, a number of pre-investigation checks are currently underway and so other criminal episodes are likely to appear during the investigation,” Markin concluded.











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