Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu compared anti-corruption investigations carried out by muckrakers to the denunciations that could lead to prison or death during Great Terror unleashed by Stalin.
“This all reminds me of a repeat of the 1937 campaign of massive denunciations,” Shoigu — who has been the subject of two investigations — told Moskovsky Komsomolets in an interview published September 22.
Stalin formally launched the Great Terror, a period of political repression, on July 30, 1937. Communist Party members and government officials were among the 700,000 people killed during the Great Terror, which featured show trials with denunciations, historians say.
“Why did people write denunciations then? Some wanted to occupy the job of the people they denounced. Some pursued other goals. Today it’s the same thing: we have massive public denunciations from internal and external sponsors,” he said.
Shoigu was the target of a 2015 expose by opposition activist Aleksei Navalny, who claimed the minister owned an $18 million mansion in the Moscow suburbs.
The mansion in question sits on a 9,000-square-meter plot and features gently curved roofs similar to those of Buddhist temples. That prompted speculation that the chosen style is an homage to Shoigu’s native Tuva, a federal subject on the Mongolian border that is one of Russia’s few predominantly Buddhist regions.
This summer, The Insider reported that a former associate of Shoigu earned about $100 million from contracts with the Defense Ministry as well as the Emergency Situations Ministry, which Shoigu previously oversaw.
Shoigu said it doesn’t make sense to sue papers for publishing such investigations because you have to spend months proving your case in a public court.
The reporter did not ask the minister to specifically address the accusations made in the investigations against him and his associate. Shoigu said the interview was his first major sit down with a journalist since becoming minister seven years ago.