Corruption sends high-ranking naval officer to jail in Russia

An unusually high-ranking officer in the Russian Navy has been sentenced to two years in prison by a court in Saint Petersburg. Sergey Travin is a Captain 1st rank, and he is the leader of the Defense Ministry’s Department of Navigation and Oceanography. He even has his own page on the Defense Ministry’s website, but I suspect that it will be removed shortly.

The court found him guilty of fraud in a case dating back to 2012. Back then, Travin was the director of a factory that produced technical parts for ships, and he took part in a scheme where a bookkeeper was fired and immediately re-employed, which triggered a golden handshake of 2 million rubles. That reports The court also decided that Travin cannot hold a public leadership position for one year.

Sergey Travin
Sergey Travin. Photo:

Another court is currently reviewing a more serious case against Travin. This involves corruption that he allegedly organized in connection with Russia’s 2015 bit to the United Nations for the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. According to the charges, Travin cheated the Defense Ministry into buying unnecessary satellite and aerial images of poor quality for a sum of 70 million rubles. That is about €940,000.

These are not obscene amounts. There is a fair level of corruption in the Russian bureaucracy, and in both these cases Travin would share the profit with accomplices. Other officers have stolen much more and gotten away with it.

A guess could be that the higher command found Travin unreliable. In addition to the two court cases, he has also been involved in other affairs that could indicate questionable loyalty. In one case, Travin was subject in a corruption investigation involving the sale of anchor chains to the Navy for 89 million rubles. The chains were supposed to be domestic Russian production, but in reality they were Chinese, and about 62 million Rubles disappeared in the process. Domestic production is a high priority in these times of foreign sanctions, so cheating with that may be beyond the acceptable limits of corruption. Also Travin was reprimanded in 2017 for forgetting to notify the security services before traveling to the United States, and a few weeks later he was disciplined for drunkenness during a business trip with the navy command.

On the positive note, Travin was quite highly decorated. He also received the “Return of Crimea” medal from defense minister Sergey Shoigu, so it seems likely that he played a part in that operation.




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