MOSCOW - A fifth of Russia's state defense spending is stolen every year by corrupt officials, dishonest generals and crooked contractors, Russia's chief military prosecutor said in an interview published on Tuesday.
President Dmitry Medvedev says endemic corruption is holding back Russia's development, but anti-bribery groups say the problem has become worse since Medvedev was steered into the Kremlin by his mentor Vladimir Putin in 2008.
"Huge money is being stolen - practically every fifth rouble and the troops are still getting poor quality equipment and arms," chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky told Russia's official gazette, Rossiiskaya Gazeta. "Every year more and more money is set aside for defense but the successes are not great," he said, adding that kickbacks and fictitious contracts were being used to defraud the state.
Fridinsky did not give specific figures, but Russia has set more than 1.5 trillion roubles ($53 billion) for national defense in its 2011 budget, indicating theft of more than $10 billion a year from the sector.