Russian authorities have begun an audit following the publication by the Kirovsky District Court of Rostov-on-Don of a verdict in a corruption case, which indirectly confirmed the presence of the Russian military in the Donbas. The court’s decision has been removed from its website after extensive media coverage. Although, it is still available on web archive. The press secretary of the President of Russia, Dmitry Peskov, called the court’s verdict a mistake.
"As part of the official audit, all the circumstances of this publication, the technical side of the issue will be determined. The regional judicial department is involved in this process. The situation is not easy. On the one hand, this is a lawful court decision, on the other hand, there are questions about the very essence of the facts set forth in the verdict, " a source in the judicial system of Rostov-on-Don told the Russian news outlet Znak.com.
The Kirovsky District Court later said that the media misinterpreted the text of the verdict. The joint press service of the courts of the Rostov region reported that information about the presence of the Russian military in the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR was contained "exclusively in the testimony of the defendant."
The verdict, published by the Rostov court, confirmed the presence of the Russian military in the Donbas. In the text of the verdict in the case of corruption in the supply of food, it was noted that the products were sent to military units of the Russian armed forces on the territory of the breakaway Luhansk and Donetsk Republics. The verdict was delivered by the court on November 10, 2021.
The defendant in the case is the deputy regional manager for military nutrition of one of the commercial companies, who was found guilty of giving bribes to the head of the Center for State Sanitary and Epidemiological Surveillance of the Russian Southern Military District with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
As follows from the verdict, the official demanded 90 thousand rubles ($1,210) a month in order not to interfere with the supply of food to Russian servicemen who are stationed in the east of Ukraine.
Representatives of the Kirovsky District Court of Rostov-on-Don told the Russian news agency RBC that it was an "impersonal verdict" that was posted on the court's website.
"It corresponds to the original verdict, which is attached to the materials of the criminal case. The defendant's testimony is also there. The prosecution’s arguments and what the court admits does not say this. It says that [Vyacheslav] Zabaluyev stated this, and then the details of what he said are listed. We cannot influence his testimony, " RBC quotes the court's response.
"He [the defendant] was responsible for organizing and fulfilling the procurement of food and ensuring sufficient food reserves in the warehouse. Food was intended for shipment to the units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation stationed in the territory of DPR and LPR," the case materials say.
The Kremlin has repeatedly stated that there are no Russian military in the east of Ukraine.