Russian deputy defence minister loses appeal against detention in $11 million bribe case

MOSCOW (Reuters) -A Russian court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by deputy defence minister Timur Ivanov against his pre-trial detention in a bribery case in which his lawyer said he denies taking kickbacks worth about a billion roubles ($10.9 million).

The Moscow court service said Ivanov's appeal to be released or placed under house arrest was denied.

In the biggest corruption scandal for years involving a government minister, Ivanov is accused of receiving a "particularly large bribe" in the form of property services from a construction company.

"The point is that allegedly Ivanov’s contractors built facilities for Ivanov for free, which is not true," state news agency RIA quoted his lawyer Murad Musayev as saying.

"I don’t remember the amount now, about one billion roubles."

It was the first time such a figure had been mentioned.

Ivanov had been responsible at the defence ministry for a large budget for military construction projects. His arrest last month by the FSB security service was widely seen as a blow to his boss, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, and as a sign of fighting within the elite as President Vladimir Putin prepares to name a new government at the start of his fifth term.

Interfax news agency quoted Ivanov's lawyer as saying he had been temporarily removed from his ministerial duties.

The Moscow court said it rejected a similar appeal by Sergei Borodin, a friend of Ivanov who is also charged with conspiring to take bribes, against his pre-trial detention.

Two other men were arrested in the same week. One was Alexander Fomin, the co-founder of the construction company that allegedly provided the bribes. The other was Anton Filatov, the former head of several companies subordinate to the defence ministry, who is suspected of large-scale embezzlement.


Ivanov had appeared in military uniform when first brought to court after his arrest, but was wearing plain clothes in photographs from Wednesday's hearing.

Lawyer Musayev told reporters the defence had brought to court a pile of state awards that Ivanov had received in order to testify to his good character. A photograph from the courtroom showed them stacked on a wooden table.

He said the defence team had not been given access to visit Ivanov in Moscow's Lefortovo prison, a jail favoured by the FSB where Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is also being held in pre-trial detention on spying charges he denies.

"(Ivanov) is cheerful and calm. Of course he's at a loss, but he's had enough time to make sense of this situation, you can say he's taking a philosophical view of it," Musayev said.

"He just wants to understand the reason for what's happening, and why it's happening right now."

(Reporting by Reuters, writing by Mark Trevelyan, Editing by Angus MacSwan and Gareth Jones)