Negligence inquiry opened against Russia's ex-defense minister

A criminal investigation has been opened against former Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on the counts of negligence, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.

A criminal investigation has been opened against former Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on the counts of negligence, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax.

"Investigators believe that when he held the post of defense minister, Serdyukov issued verbal instructions to his subordinates to build a motorway linking the village of Krasa in the Ikryanino district of the Astrakhan region and Shkolny island, on which the Zhitnoye non-profit partnership is located, and fund the project from the ministry's budget," Markin said.

"Serdyukov explained his instruction with the need allegedly to build a recreation center for the Defense Ministry. Apart from that, measures were also taken on orders issued by the ex-minister to build the necessary amenities on the premises of Zhitnoye," he said.

"The work to plant a garden there was conducted by Air Force unit soldiers, while the road was constructed by a battalion of the Railroad Troops," Markin said.

"It means that instead of participating in military service and combat training, these soldiers planted poplars in the Astrakhan steppe and built motorways. The road that appeared in the end can only be used by those who own houses in Zhitnoye and visitors," he said.

"No written instructions, orders and directives that would have justified the use of these budget funds or would have confirmed the Defense Ministry's legal rights to this road were issued," Markin said.

The measures authorized by the former defense minister are believed to have caused damage of over 56 million rubles ($1.7 million) to the country's budget, he added.

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