Russian Colonel Arrested After Demanding Washing Machine Bribe

A Russian officer made a strange demand to a military staff member tasked with signing up conscripts for the Russian army.

Colonel Ivan Mertvishchev told the draft officer in the Remanki district in the west of Moscow that he was going to check up on his conscription progress in the autumn draft which started on November 1. The colonel said that even if the documentation for the draft all added up, he would find fault with the recruitment his office was in charge of anyway, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

But, Mertvishchev said that he would reveal no issue with the process if given a washing machine worth no less than 70,000 roubles ($1,153). The demand prompted the draft officer to lodge a complaint to the military intelligence department.

Russian partial mobilization
Russian men don new military uniforms while carrying their bags to a bus before being sent to a mobilization center in Moscow on October 6, 2022. A Russian colonel was arrested and pleaded guilty after demanding a bribe in the form of a new washing machine. Getty Images

The washing machine was purchased but when Mertvishchev came to pick it up, he was arrested and charged with receiving an extorted bribe, to which he pleaded guilty. He appeared before the 235th Garrison Military Court of Moscow and was placed under house arrest for two months, Kommersant reported.

The autumn draft in Russia had been delayed by a month and was not part of the partial mobilization announced by Vladimir Putin in September, which was aimed at boosting troop numbers by at least 300,000 for his faltering invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian General Staff said at the beginning of this month that none of the estimated 120,000 recruits in the autumn draft would be sent to take part in what the Kremlin calls a "special military operation."

The draft Putin announced on September 21 which officially ended on October 31 has been widely criticized with reports of a lack of equipment and training for troops.

Putin defended the mobilization but its chaotic execution led to demonstrations across the country and an exodus from Russia of hundreds of thousands of people keen to avoid being sent to fight in Ukraine.

He said he had ended the mobilization drive at the end of October, but has not yet revoked an official decree which provides the legal basis for the draft. This sparked speculation among Russian military bloggers and many analysts that the Kremlin was keeping its options open for another wave of mobilization.

However, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that there was no discussion in the Kremlin for a further draft, although he added, "I can't speak for the defense ministry."

Newsweek reached out to the Russian defense ministry for comment.