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Ex-defense minister Serdyukov faces accusations of negligence

December 06, 2013, 17:09 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to Investigative Committee's chief, he refuses to give testimony

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© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Karpov

MOSCOW, December 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Military investigators have brought the official accusation of negligence against former Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Friday.

“He is charged under Article 293 Part 1 of the Russian Criminal Code for negligence that caused major losses,” spokesman of the Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass.

“He refused to give testimony,” Markin added.

Markin added that the final charges against ex-defense minister might be extended in the course of the investigation.

“I would like to clarify that this is only the initial charge that investigators are legally required to submit within ten days after the election of a preventive measure. Now investigators will not only have to work on securing evidence, but to examine more carefully the circumstances of the offense, to give them an appropriate legal assessment and only after that the final version of the charge would be brought, and it may quite possibly be expanded, as the qualification of Serdyukov’s actions ,” Markin said.

Serdyukov's lawyer Konstantin Rivkin confirmed that his client did not plead guilty in negligence during the interrogation. "Anatoly Eduardovich pleaded not guilty ... The built road belongs to the Ministry of Defense ... and his actions did not cause any losses," Rivkin said.

However, Serdyukov’s attorney said that “Serdyukov agreed to give testimony and cited the testimony, which he had already given as a witness”.

On Tuesday, December 3, Serdyukov was questioned as a suspect in the criminal case over negligence during the construction of a road to the Zhitnoye recreation center and its development at expense of budget funding.

Serdyukov denied the charges and refused to give evidence.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Serdyukov had used Article 51 of the Russian Constitution which gives the right not to testify against oneself. The same right was used by former head of the Defense Ministry's property department Yevgenia Vasilyeva.

However, it did not prevent the investigators to charge her under several articles of the Criminal Code, Markin said, noting that as for Serdyukov, the investigators have enough evidence proving his direct involvement in illegal actions.

Markin said Serdyukov was on recognizance and that charges against him could be changed.

Investigators said Serdyukov, at the post of defense minister, issued a verbal order to his subordinates to tap budget funds for the construction of a road from the village of Krasa in Astrakhan region's Ikrayninsky district to the island of Shkolny which accommodated the Zhitnoye recreation center.

Landscaping was done by conscripts from an aviation unit, while the road was built by railway troops. The soldiers were engaged in works which had nothing to do with their service, training or railway construction, according to the spokesman.

Eventually, the road could only be used by Zhitnoye owners and visitors.

Markin said no documents, orders or directives were issued to substantiate the use of budget funds or establish the legal rights of the Defense Ministry to this road. Losses incurred to the state exceeded 56 million rubles.

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