MOSCOW, December 6 (RIA Novosti) – A former Russian defense minister was formally charged on Friday with negligence that allegedly caused 56 million rubles ($1.7 million) worth of damage to the state.
The charges, filed against Anatoly Serdyukov over claims that he ordered soldiers to build a road leading to an elite holiday resort, do not entail a prison term and are punishable by either a fine or community service.
“Those are just initial charges that investigators are obliged to file within 10 days after terms of pretrial detention are chosen for a suspect,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.
He said the investigation would continue and different charges might be filed later.
Serdyukov reiterated on Friday that he was not involved in the alleged crime and availed himself of his constitutional right to decline to give evidence, although his lawyer said the ex-minister was “willing to testify.”
He was not placed in custody and walked free after promising not to leave his place of residence.
Investigators say Serdyukov gave verbal commands to his subordinates to compel soldiers to build a private road to the Zhitnoye resort complex near the Caspian Sea, as well as perform construction jobs at the resort itself.
The Zhitnoye resort, reportedly worth about $4.5 million, was owned by Serdyukov’s brother-in-law at the time the soldiers were allegedly involved in construction work at the site.