Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rights Expert Accuses Army Of Frame-Up

A leading human rights activist Monday accused the Russian military of trumping up charges against an army musician, detained for bribetaking for 15 months, in order to draw attention away from much larger-scale corruption in the Western Army Group.

Boris Miller, deputy president of the Russian section of the International Society for Human Rights, told a press conference that Major Georgy Shkutnik, chief conductor of the Western Group orchestra, was detained in July 1993 on charges of accepting bribes totalling 1,600 Deutsche marks.

"We think the case of Shkutnik was forged by the military prosecutor's office of the Western Group," Miller said. "They just wanted to cover much larger corruption in the Western Group."

He said Shkutnik had spent 15 months in various prisons in Germany and Russia before his release was ordered last week by a military court in Moscow. His case will begin Nov. 9, Miller said.

Shkutnik, speaking at the same press conference, said his orchestra, which was based in Potsdam, had often been invited to play in their free time by the local authorities for a fee of 400 marks.

He said his troubles had started after officers of the Federal Counterintelligence Service, serving with his unit, had demanded part of the fee, which he had refused to hand over.

Alexander Zdanovich, a spokesman for the Federal Counterintelligence Service, denied all Shkutnik's accusations and called them "total nonsense."