Polish TVP reports:

Mertvishchov conducted an inspection at a military police station in Moscow. The colonel admitted in a telephone conversation with the station’s management that “the matters related to the recruitment of conscripts were going badly there”, and the result of the inspection could “not only adversely affect the image of the station but also the career of its commander”.

The washing machine, worth 72,000 rubles, was supposed to be a “payment” for Mertvishchov’s positive assessment of the visited institution. The station’s management reported these demands to law enforcement authorities. The officer was arrested when he arrived at the agreed location to pick up the washing machine, according to the opposition TV portal.

Initially, Mertvishchov faced two years in prison. However, the charge was changed to “attempted fraud”, which resulted in the military officer being sentenced only to a fine of 400,000 rubles and a temporary ban on holding public office. The colonel was also required to volunteer for the war in Ukraine.

I've highlighted "according to the opposition TV portal" because it seem that this is news not from official Russian sources; the TV channel in question is Current Time TV, broadcasting from Prague. So, is this story true, basically: was a Russian colonel "required to volunteer for the war in Ukraine" because he asked for a washing machine as a bribe?

  • 3
    The whole story sounds like a carefully crafted hoax. The very name of the officer, Мертвищев literally means 'Deadman(-off)', and demanding the gift with valuable goods instead of the money is a clear reference to Gogol's "Dead Souls" (see the pun?) where the corrupt officer claims that he is not corrupt as he demands greyhound puppies (a subject to collect at the time) given to him as bribe instead of the money. It is not uncommon for KGB to cook carefully crafted hoaxes with remarkable details (name) to track the routes by which rumors spread. May 13, 2023 at 13:23
  • @bebracebelikeukraine: That sounds like an unreferenced answer - please use the answer box for answers, not comments.
    – Oddthinking
    May 13, 2023 at 14:48
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    @B If that officer doesn't even exist that would indeed be an interesting answer. May 13, 2023 at 14:50
  • I see that some people have made Gogol references on social media (in relation to that case) and were quoted in the RFERL coverage of that svoboda.org/a/… but they don't quite seem to doubt that colonel exists. Maybe his name was changed though... May 13, 2023 at 15:00
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    @BeBraveBeLikeUkraine: Мертвищев seems to be a rather common name; there's another "полковник А.Н. Мертвищев" raion.gorodperm.ru/ordzhonikidzevskij/novosti/2021/06/23/72610 May 13, 2023 at 16:16

2 Answers 2


Somewhat/largely true, even according to Russian sources published in Russia, although the detail about him being "required" to volunteer for Ukraine is presented as his request being considered an extenuating circumstance considered by the court; Kommersant reported:

При этом суд учел смягчающие вину обстоятельства: полковник признал вину, принимал участие в боевых действиях в Чечне, имеет несколько орденов. Мало того, офицер, уже будучи под судом, написал рапорт с просьбой направить его в зону СВО.

At the same time, the court took into account extenuating circumstances: the colonel pleaded guilty, took part in hostilities in Chechnya, and has several orders [medals]. Moreover, the officer, already under trial, wrote a report with a request to send him to the [Special Military Operation] zone.

The colonel, who worked for the General Staff (Генштаба) of the RF, received a conviction on the lesser charge of attempted fraud (which entailed no prison time) rather than for extorting a bribe, although he was arrested by the FSB picking up the delivery of the Bosch washing machine (Kommersant even gives the precise model number--WHA122W1BL), which he had convinced the recruitment office to deliver to him, apparently in return for not writing up a bad report about them.

  • As suggested in a comment under the Q, the Kommersant story itself might have some propaganda elements, to depict a successful anti-corruption operation. If some answer could address that angle, e.g. that the colonel even existed as such, that would be interesting, although it's not too clear how one can do that [beyond press coverage] without getting into doxxing and such. skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4468/… May 13, 2023 at 16:07

The initial publication dated November 22 2022 is from Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper known for its critical and investigative coverage of Russian political and social affairs. The media license was revoked last year, but the new "Novaïa Gazeta Europe" is now published from Riga (Latvia).

A new article was published by the same media in April 2023, giving information on the condemnation of Colonel Ivan Mertvichshev for extortion, i.e. a fine of 400 000 rubles (€4,470).

The story is confirmed in an article dated April 18 2023 by Kommersant, a Russian magazine whose owner is an oligarch, i.e. not (yet) an opponent to Putin.

The verdict was erased to a fine General Staff officer sentenced for Bosch washing machine.

The 235th garrison military court passed a sentence on the head of the department of the main organizational and mobilization department of the General Staff (GOMU GSh) of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel Ivan Mertvishchev.

At first, the officer was accused of taking a bribe in the form of a Bosch washing machine for a positive review of the work of the military commissariat of the Ramenki district during the draft, but later the actions of Mr. Mertvishchev were reclassified as attempted fraud.

As a result, the officer received a fine of 400 000 rubles. and a two-year ban on holding public office.
The convict has already written a report with a request to send him to the NWO war zone.

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