Timur Ivanov, Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Is Detained on Bribery Charges

A deputy minister of defense in Russia has been detained on charges of taking a “large scale” bribe, the country’s top law enforcement investigators announced on Tuesday.

The brief announcement from the Investigative Committee divulged few details about what had led to Timur Ivanov, the deputy minister, being taken into custody. But the legal statute that he is accused of violating is for taking a bribe “on a particularly large scale,” more than one million rubles, or more than $10,000.

The Ministry of Defense did not comment on the investigation.

Mr. Ivanov, a deputy defense minister since 2016, had long been in charge of military construction projects, including most recently the huge contracts awarded to rebuild the Russian-occupied eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which was devastated by Russian attacks soon after the February 2022 invasion.

He was also responsible for building Patriot Park, a military theme space outside Moscow that featured exhibits of weaponry and a Russian Orthodox cathedral that sought to cast the experiences of the Russian armed forces in a holy light. He was awarded the Order for Merit to the Fatherland several times.

Mr. Ivanov was known as a protégé of Sergei K. Shoigu, the Russian defense minister who is a close associate of President Vladimir V. Putin.

The circumstances around the detention of a deputy minister with such high-ranking connections were not immediately clear. But the past pattern of such arrests has been that the person who fell from grace had run afoul of the business interests of the F.S.B., Russia’s security services, or a construction oligarch with even more powerful connections.

“He is not an outlier in terms of side hustles and unexplained wealth,” said Dara Massicot, an expert on the Russian military at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “To meet this sort of end to your career, you must have crossed someone.”

Pictures and reports about the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by Mr. Ivanov and his wife, at a level far beyond the reach of a government salary, have circulated in Russia for years. An investigation in 2022 by the Anti-Corruption Foundation, an organization founded by the opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny alleged that the couple’s purchases included a Rolls-Royce, a $104,000 ring and designer clothes, as well as high-end vacation home and yacht rentals on the French Riviera.

The foundation and various news agencies reported that Mr. Ivanov and his wife, Svetlana, completed a sham divorce in June 2022 so that she could continue to travel across Europe even after he was put under European sanctions.

On Tuesday, government supporters and pro-war news channels were quick to refer to the couple’s notorious spending habits soon after the announcement about Mr. Ivanov’s detention.

Sergei Markov, a conservative Russian political commentator, said the idea was laughable that any bribes had been limited to the one-million-ruble range. “Nobody believes that,” he wrote, while noting that the charge meant accepting significant bribes. “The deputy minister committed not just a crime, but a serious crime. A signal to everyone: Don’t stand up for him.”

In a separate development on Tuesday, the Moscow Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church announced on its website that Rev. Dmitri Safronov, the parish priest who had delivered the funeral prayers for Mr. Navalny, would be barred from most public clerical duties for three years.

The announcement did not specify an official reason for the punishment. But church analysts speculated online that it could only be for presiding at the funeral of the opposition leader, who died in February inside a Russian prison. The Russian government reluctantly approved a funeral at a Moscow cemetery after an extended showdown with Mr. Navalny’s mother.

Milana Mazaeva contributed reporting.

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