Russian President Vladimir Putin fired the country’s defense minister on Tuesday after corruption allegations surfaced. The move by Putin is the latest twist in an unfolding drama involving power, money, and suspected adultery at the Kremlin.
Putin announced the decision on television Tuesday, saying that he fired Anatoly Serdyukov, who was once considered one of his most loyal courtiers, reports Yahoo! News.
Lately, however, Serdyukov has become a liability with allegations saying that the military sold assets cheaply to insiders. Putin stated:
“Taking into consideration the situation around the Defense Ministry, in order to create conditions for an objective investigation into all matters, I have decided to remove Defense Minister Serdyukovfrom his post.”
The new defense minister will be Sergei Shoigu, who was recently named governor of the region including Moscow. He is also widely known as a popular and loyal Putin ally in the past 20 year as the head of the Emergencies Ministry.
The defense minister in Russia channels billions of dollars every year through the country’s massive defense industry. The country is the second largest arms exporter in the world. Corruption in the defense ministry has been a massive problem for decades. The country’s top military prosecutor stated in 2011 that one-fifth of the budget was either stolen or embezzled.
NBC News notes that Putin spoke in a televised meeting with the new defense minister, Shoigu, saying that he needs to continue “grandiose plans for the reform of the army.”
Last moneh Russian investigators raided the Defense Ministry offices of firm Oboronservis and subsequently opened an investigation into the company. Oboronservis is suspected of selling assets to commercial firms with a loss of almost $100 million.
The Russian media has also been speculating for days that Vladimir Putin no longer supported Serdyukov after he had an affair that infuriated the former Defense Minister’s powerful father-in-law and parton, Viktor Zubkov, who is also the chairman of oil monopoly Gazprom.