MOSCOW, January 11 - RAPSI. Investigators might consider former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov's refusal to testify as an attempt to hinder the investigation into the case on the embezzlement of the ministry's property, Investigative Committee spokesperson Vladimir Markin told journalists on Friday.

"It is every citizen's right to choose his line of defense in a criminal case," Markin said. "Serdyukov chose this path. It is legal, but it is bewildering to the investigators to say the least. In this situation, the former defense minister's position could be seen as an attempt to hinder the investigation."

He added that he has not received answers to the questions asked of the minister. Investigators will seek to establish which crimes were committed, and to find evidence in this regard.

A major corruption scandal occurred in the ministry last spring. Investigators are examining the criminal case on the embezzlement of the ministrys property in the so-called "Oboronservis" case.

Serdyukov was questioned in the case at the Main Military Investigative Department on Friday. The former minister has now been interrogated twice as a witness. During the previous interrogation, he refused to communicate with investigators, stating that his attorney was unable to perform his duties due to illness.

In October, investigators announced that five fraud cases had been launched on the sale of the property, land, and shares belonging to Oboronservis, a holding company under the ministry's control. The losses involved were thought to be in excess of 3 billion rubles ($97.3 million). Later, it was reported that the damages have exceeded 6.7 billion rubles ($217.3 million).

President Vladimir Putin dismissed Serdyukov on November 6 to ensure impartiality in the criminal investigation.

Oboronservis consists of service companies involved in armaments and military vehicle repair and maintenance, construction materials and food production, power facilities operation, cartography and printing goods production, and housing services for military towns.