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MOSCOW, December 04. /ITAR-TASS/. All federal newspapers covered the questioning of former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, a negligence case suspect. Serdyukov denied the charges and refused to give evidence, but Russia's Investigative Committee said it would charge the ex-minister within the next few days. Serdyukov is a suspect in the case over the construction of a recreation center belonging to his son-in-law. The project was funded with the Defense Ministry's money.
The newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets believes that Serdyukov's questioning was a “real spy thriller”: the initial appointment with the investigator was postponed and the venue was changed. "Then they tried to smuggle the former minister past the journalists. Finally, after the questioning at which Serdyukov refused to talk, he was quietly led out through the backdoor and a car that had been waiting for him drove him away," the newspaper said.
The Investigative Committee spokesman explained that the former minister "was questioned as a suspect in the criminal case over negligence in the construction of a road to the Zhitnoye center in the Astrakhan region and its development with the Defense Ministry's money."
The Serdyukov case will take time, because it's a landmark case for the public opinion, said political scientist Dr. Vladimir Slatinov, cited by the newspaper Novye Izvestia. Slatinov believes that the decision to change Serdyukov's status to suspect is made at top level. "They'll do it to raise their falling ratings," he said. In his opinion however, Serdyukov's punishment will not be severe.
"It's very difficult to prove exceeding of office powers by such a person as defense minister," chairman of the Center for Combating Corruption in Government Bodies Viktor Kostromin said. "The situation was blown to such an extent that we all start assuming without understanding what evidence the investigator has."
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