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Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin starts deleting tweets about his nephew, after reporters discover a defense-industry conflict of interest

Meduza

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has Twitter to thank for another scandal. From 2010 to 2011, while serving as Russia’s representative to NATO, Rogozin bragged several times about his nephew, Roman, who was serving as a decorated helicopter pilot in Chad.

According to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, in 2012 the nephew joined the board of directors at the Tula and Ulyanovsk bullet factory — an enterprise in the defense industry, which Dmitry Rogozin oversees as deputy prime minister. Roman Rogozin also joined the board of directors at “Photoelectric Devices,” which was hired to develop components for night-vision goggles.

Roman Rogozin
Roman Rogozin
Dmitry Rogozin's Twitter account

Despite government investments, the company failed to produce the needed components. Roman Rogozin later stepped down from his positions at these companies.

What happened when Rogozin was approached about his nephew's jobs?

Novaya Gazeta reached out to Dmitry Rogozin’s representative about the apparent conflict of interest, and a few weeks later the deputy prime minister’s spokesperson said that Rogozin ... doesn’t have a nephew. After this, Rogozin’s tweets where he mentions his nephew suddenly started disappearing.

For Defender of the Fatherland Day, we've prepared an amazing story about a failed import-substitution effort in the defense sector. There are high-ranking officials' relatives, “gifts” from a businessman on the Forbes list to the son of a general, and a lot more interesting stuff. But my favorite is the part about Mr. Rogozin and his secret nephew.

Journalists from Novaya Gazeta contacted the deputy prime minister's spokesperson in advance and asked him to comment on his nephew's work at an enterprise in the industry he oversees. After a few weeks, Rogozin's aide unexpectedly told Novaya Gazeta, “Dmitry Rogozin doesn't have a nephew named Roman. He doesn't have any nephews.”

He refused to explain who Rogozin mentioned at least six times (by Novaya Gazeta's count), when he wrote about “Nephew Roman” on Twitter.

A little while after our conversation with Rogozin's aide, the tweets mentioning the nephew started to disappear from the deputy prime minister's account (though most of them are still available in Google's cache).

This is one of Russia's deputy prime ministers — the deputy prime minister who oversees the military-industrial complex — purging his tweets.
Olesya Shmagun / Facebook

This isn’t Rogozin’s first brush with conflicts of interest. 

In 2012, he faced criticism because he son, Alexey, worked as assistant director at the company “Promtekhnologiya,” which produces the Orsis rifle. Dmitry Rogozin even lobbied on behalf of this company. At the time, the deputy prime minister wrote on Facebook that his family agreed Alexey would step down, to avoid the appearance of any conflicts of interest. Before long, however, Rogozin’s nephew took his son’s place.

Correction: This text originally misidentified Roman Rogozin as the deputy prime minister's cousin. According to Rogozin's tweets, he is in fact his nephew. Meduza apologizes for the mistake.