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New Suspect Sought for Selling $10M of Defense Ministry Property

Investigators are looking for a senior official at an Oboronservis subsidiary who is suspected of illegally selling $10 million of Defense Ministry property, Interfax reported Thursday.  

Law enforcement officers are working to determine the whereabouts of Marina Lopatina, a former head of the Krasnaya Zvezda managing company, Interfax said, citing unidentified Oboronservis spokespeople. The report didn't say whether Lopatina had officially been put on a wanted list.  

Investigators searched the office of Krasnaya Zvezda on Wednesday, confiscating a number of officials' computer hard drives.

The Krasnaya Zvezda holding includes a publishing house of the same name that produces a newspaper. Also named Krasnaya Zvezda, the newspaper is the Defense Ministry's mouthpiece. The holding also manages a number of smaller publishing houses and military cartographic factories.

Investigators already searched the office of an undisclosed director of Krasnaya Zvezda in October as part of the five criminal cases regarding illegal sales of ministry property through Oboronservis. The cases were made public in October.

Now, all the cases have been merged into one. The combined case includes seven episodes and the suspected illegal sale of 14 buildings, which cost the state almost $222 million, Interfax said.

Two suspects, Yekaterina Smetanova and Maxim Zakutaylo, who headed companies linked to Oboronservis, have been arrested. Another, Yevgenia Vasilyeva, a former property relations department head at the ministry, remains under house arrest. All three have been charged with fraud.

The corruption probe into Oboronservis cost former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov his job.

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