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Roving Periscope: Russia and China fight high-level “corruption” within

Roving Periscope: Russia and China fight high-level “corruption” within

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: War is not only a big business for political and corporate chiefs but also for the military bosses.

In a series of bribery arrests of high-ranking military officials, Russia, which is engaged in an ongoing war against Ukraine, announced the arrest of a deputy chief of the Russian military general staff on charges of large-scale bribery, Russian news reports said on Thursday.

The arrest of Lt. Gen. Vadim Shamarin followed the arrest this week of another senior official, Major-General Ivan Popov, a former top commander in Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, also on bribery charges.

These are not isolated cases. In April, Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov was arrested for bribery. He was a close associate of Sergei Shoigu, whom President Vladimir Putin dismissed as defense minister soon after his inauguration to a new six-year term earlier this month.
Two days after Shoigu was replaced, Lt. Gen. Yury Kuznetsov, head of the defense ministry’s personnel directorate, was also arrested on bribery charges.

The latest ‘victim,’ Shamarin is also the head of the defense ministry’s main communications directorate. He is being held in custody for two months, Russian news agencies cited a military garrison court as saying, but other details of the case were not reported.

Former Defense Minister Shoigu had been widely blamed for Russia’s failure to capture Kyiv early in the Ukraine fighting and was accused of incompetence and corruption by mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who launched a short-lived mutiny in June 2023 to demand the dismissal of the controversial Shoigu and military chief of staff Gen Valery Gerasimov.

Soon after Prigozhin’s failed uprising, Popov was dismissed as commander of the 58th Army. He said he had spoken to Shoigu about insufficient equipment that had led to excessive Russian deaths, and that his dismissal was a treacherous stab in the back to Russian forces in Ukraine.

Popov’s forces were fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region, one of the most hotly contested areas in the Ukraine conflict. His dismissal came a day after the 58th Army’s command post in the city of Berdyansk was hit in a Ukrainian strike, killing a high-ranking general.

In China also, President-for-Life Xi Jinping’s Communist regime has been arresting “corrupt” officials in the highest echelons, including the defense and foreign ministries. Hundreds of thousands of officials of all ranks have been jailed in recent months or sacked unceremoniously from their high positions.

According to the media reports in December 2023, days after President Xi exhorted people to maintain personal integrity, China amended its criminal law to punish those giving bribes to officials as part of its anti-corruption drive.

An amendment to the Criminal Law was passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature.
The amended law, which took effect on March 1, intensified the fight against bribe-givers, stating that those offering bribes repeatedly, to multiple people, or parties involved in major national projects should be harshly punished.

People who give bribes to staff members of supervisory, administrative, or judicial departments, or bribe in fields such as environment, finance, safety production, drug and food, social insurance, rescue relief, education, or healthcare, also need to face severe punishment, the law added.

On December 4, 2023, President Xi warned senior ruling Communist Party officials to maintain personal integrity, set strict rules for relatives to keep them away from corruption, and refrain from blindly following foreign examples and reckless actions.
The top officials must set strict rules for their family members, relatives, and staff workers around them when it comes to the efforts against corruption, he told a meeting of the Politburo of the ruling Communist Party of China.

Since he took over the leadership of the party in 2012, Xi has been continuing with the anti-corruption campaign, in which, according to official media accounts, over a million officials, including several top military generals, were punished.

The intensity of the campaign also attracted criticism that Xi made effective use of it to silence his critics and rivals within the party and the government.


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