MOSCOW — Two new big corruption cases have been opened in Russia just days after a graft investigation brought down the minister of defense.
Investigators said Friday that about $200 million has been stolen from a troubled space agency program and that about $3 million was skimmed off the budget for an international economic summit held in Vladivostok in September. Roman Panov, who is head of the Perm Territory and was involved in preparing for the summit, was detained by police Friday, the Interfax news agency reported.
Other high-level officials are involved, investigators told the RIA Novosti news agency.
Running three major, well-publicized, simultaneous criminal investigations into corruption is without precedent here. The probes come as President Vladimir Putin’s public ratings have sagged and as rumors about a potentially debilitating back injury persist.
Some analysts believe Putin has decided he needs to show the government taking decisive action to shore up his standing, and corruption is a handy issue. According to this argument, the graft investigations are more a means to a political end than a pursuit of justice for its own sake.