MOSCOW Dec 27 Former Russian Defence Minister
Anatoly Serdyukov has been called in for questioning on Friday
over a $100 million property fraud case, federal investigators
and his lawyer said on Thursday.
Serdyukov, who was sacked by President Vladimir Putin on
Nov. 6, is not a suspect but a former subordinate, Yevgeniya
Vasilyeva, has been charged with fraud and embezzlement in the
case that has cast a spotlight on corruption in Putin's
"Serdyukov has been called in for questioning by the
Investigative Committee on Friday," Interfax news agency quoted
Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the top investigative agency, as
The case, one of several corruption scandals to flare since
Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third term as president in
May, has raised questions over whether Serdyukov was aware of
the suspected fraud.
Vasilyeva is suspected of involvement in a string of
cut-price deals in which Defence Ministry property was sold off
to insiders, at a loss to the Russian taxpayer of at least 3
billion roubles ($98 million).
Serdyukov's relationship with Vasilyeva, 33, has also been a
target of speculation after reports that he was present when she
was arrested in October in a raid on her Moscow apartment, which
is in the same building as his own.
The ex-defence minister is the son-in-law of former Prime
Minister Viktor Zubkov, a long-time political ally of Putin. A
source close to the government has said Serdyukov may have paid
the political price for a breach of loyalty.
Serdyukov's lawyer, Genrikh Padva, was quoted as saying that
he had met investigators and his client and discussed a series
of questions in the case. In comments to Interfax, Padva did not
elaborate on Friday's likely line of questioning.
He dismissed recent comments by case investigators that
Serdyukov may have gone into hiding, describing them as an
"ill-intentioned attempt to discredit him".