Russia's top military medic held in corruption probe
Senior Russian defence officials including the ministry's top doctor have been detained in a corruption probe over a contract to supply medical equipment, the central investigative committee said Thursday.
The men were detained Wednesday in a probe into the purchase of medical equipment, the investigative committee said in a statement. "During questioning, the suspects gave confessionary statements.
Investigators named the men as the head of the ministry's medical arm, Alexander Belevitin, who holds the rank of major-general, and the chief military medic in the Moscow region, Colonel Alexei Nikitin.
At a preliminary hearing on Thursday, an investigator said the men were suspected of taking a bribe of 4.7 million rubles ($168,300) and of discussing killing the chief witness in the case, the Interfax news agency reported.
An investigator told a hearing at a Moscow military tribunal that the men had been recorded as they discussed killing a witness, named only as Vilken, Interfax reported.
The witness, Vilken, was a middleman who received the bribe from an Indian representative of a medical equipment company and handed over the money to the officials, the investigator said.
The bribe was made to ensure that the ministry officials chose that company to supply CT scanners costing 120 million rubles ($4.2 million) each, the investigator said, the agency reported.
A source in the court told Interfax that the investigator was referring to a former deputy health minister, Alexei Vilken, who himself has been under investigation for corruption since 2010.
Official corruption in Russia often centres around skimming money from multi-million-dollar state contracts.
President Dmitry Medvedev has made fighting corruption one of the key goals of his presidency since he came to power in 2008 but has admitted that he has seen little real progress.
© 2011 AFP