MOSCOW, January 29 - RAPSI. A commercial bribery case has been opened against Yekaterina Smetanova, a suspect in the high-profile corruption scandal around the Russian Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry's press service said on Tuesday.

It was announced last October that five fraud cases had been initiated regarding the sale of property, land and shares belonging to Oboronservice, a holding company controlled by the Defense Ministry. The losses involved were initially estimated at over 3 billion rubles ($97.3 million), but it was later reported that they exceeded 6.7 billion rubles($217.3 million).

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov was dismissed amid an investigation into these real estate frauds last November to ensure the impartiality of the investigations.

Smetanova was one of the first to be arrested. The Khamovniki District Court in Moscow approved her arrest in November on suspicion of involvement in fraudulent transactions with real estate in central Moscow. Charges have also been brought against Smetanova's husband, former head of an Air Force depot Maxim Zakutailo, and Yevgenia Vasilyeva, former head of the Defense Ministry property relations department.

The ten criminal cases against ministry officials concerned with the illegal sale of large military property assets by Oboronservice have been united into one case.