PUTIN'S PURGE: Russian general Yuri Kuznetsov dragged out of bed at 5am by cops as three more defence chiefs resign after Shoigu sacked

PUTIN'S PURGE: Russian general Yuri Kuznetsov dragged out of bed at 5am by cops as three more defence chiefs resign after Shoigu sacked

A Russian general was dragged out of his bed at 5am to be taken into detention facing "criminal charges over state secrets" in Vladimir Putin's latest purge.

Lt-Gen Yuri Kuznetsov, 55, was arrested by heavily armed cops in balaclavas who smashed their way into his home using crowbars.

Yuri Kuznetsov was arrested by cops who broke into his home with crowbars at 5am

Kuznetsov pictured behind Russia's ex-Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu

Kuznetsov is said to be facing criminal charges over state secrets

Shoigu was sacked from his role as Russia's defence minister earlier this week

The top MoD official was reportedly "dragged out of bed and taken away for interrogation".

The arrest of the military chief comes a day after Vladimir Putin oversaw major changes in Russia's defence, including the sacking of his long-term Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

In the meantime, another three defence ministers resigned suddenly - Sergei Tsalikov, 67, first deputy for military-technical support Alexey Kryvoruchko, 48, and deputy defence minister  Tatiana Shevtsova, 54.

A close ally of Shoigu, Kuznetsov is in charge of the ministry's main personnel department but his detention is seen as linked to his previous role guarding military state secrets.

Investigators said that during searches of his homes they found cash amounting to £875,000 in roubles and foreign currency as well as "gold coins, collectible watches and luxury items".

PUTIN'S PURGE: Russian general Yuri Kuznetsov dragged out of bed at 5am by cops as three more defence chiefs resign after Shoigu sacked

Telegram channel VChK-OGPU reported: "Kuznetsov was detained in his own bed.

"Counterintelligence officers came for the general fully armed and acted deliberately harshly.

"At about 5am on May 13, the security forces in balaclavas and with crowbars 'took out' the gates and windows in [his] mansion in Istra district."

It is alleged that he "received a bribe from representatives of commercial structures for certain actions in their favour," during 2021-2023, when he was in charge of safeguarding Russian state secrets.

A security source told Tass: "The investigation of the case is being conducted by the main military investigative body of Russia's Investigative Committee.

Putin to replace long-time ally Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in shock parliament shake-up

"The investigator has already approached the court on selecting preventive conditions for the general in the form of upholding his detention."

A source told the channel his wife was also brought in for questioning.

"It is known that one of Yuri Kuznetsov's relatives required medical assistance," said the channel, alluding to shock from the raid and arrest.

"His wife is still in the Investigative Committee."

She previously worked in the Committee on Military-Technical Cooperation with Foreign States, the Academy of the Strategic Missile Forces and other military structures.

Kuznetsov is a "suspect in a criminal case", reported military investigators.

The Rybar military channel said: "Purges have begun in the Ministry of Defence, including in relation to people who were somehow soiled in unpleasant episodes."

His work heading the state secret protection service was behind his detention, said the channel.

His deputy defence minister  Timur Ivanov was arrested last month on corruption charges amid suspicion he will face treason accusations.

Meanwhile, three more defence ministers have quit after Putin ally Shoigu was dismissed earlier this week.

There is speculation of a coming criminal case against Kryvoruchko, former head of the Kalashnikov gun-making enterprise, over low-quality body armour.

While Tatiana Shevtsova who was in charge of financial flows in the defence ministry, also quit today after Putin's new defence minister Andrey Belousov, 65 - took over.

She was seen as close to outgoing defence minister Sergei Shoigu.


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