Serdyukov questioned as witness over misappropriation in Defense Ministry

The Russian Investigative Committee questioned ex-Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as a witness to the Defense Ministry embezzlement case on Friday. He refused to answer questions of investigators, committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.

"Serdyukov has just left the building of the Russian Investigative Committee. He did not answer questions of the detectives," he said.

An Interfax correspondent reported that the ex-minister had spent about an hour at the Investigative Committee's Main Military Investigative Department.

Serdyukov retains his status as a witness to the inquiry into misappropriation in the Defense Ministry and has been summoned for questioning on Jan. 11, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.

"Serdyukov has been summoned for questioning once again on Jan. 11," he said. "He remains a witness in this case."

Serdyukov summoned by military investigators for questioning on Friday refused to testify without a lawyer who is ill, a source familiar with the situation told Interfax.

"The ex-minister said right away that his lawyer Genrikh Padva was ill and he could not testify in the absence of his lawyer. He asked for rescheduling the questioning," the source said.

In his words, the ex-minister will be questioned immediately after the New Year holidays.

"The decision to question Serdyukov required serious reasons and a set of procedural and investigative measures, which took us some time," Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.

"Based on the results of this work, detectives from the committee's Main Investigative Directorate outlined a range of questions to the former defense minister about the circumstances surrounding the crimes committed in the ministry," he said.

Serdyukov's lawyer Genrikh Padva told Interfax on Thursday that his client had met with an investigator in connection with the Oboronservis case and was handed a subpoena. The lawyer did not say what the subpoena was about.

In October, several criminal cases were opened into 6.7-billion-ruble embezzlement and property fraud involving state-run Defense Ministry firms - Oboronservis and Slavyanka.

Two suspects were remanded into custody.

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