Indonesia's parliament to probe arms deals with Russia

Indonesia's parliament is launching a probe into alleged irregularities in the purchase of Russian fighter jets - a potentially damaging political scandal for President Megawati Sukarnoputri ahead of next year's general elections. The scandal revolves around the purchase of four Sukhoi jet fighters and two Mi-35 helicopters. Megawati signed the $192.6-million deal to buy the aircraft during a visit to Moscow in April 2003.

General Endriartono Sutarto, the head of Indonesia's military, said that Indonesia would eventually like to buy a total of 48 fighters, but opposition lawmakers have accused Megawati's administration of violating legal requirements to channel all military purchases through the Defense Ministry.

A spokesperson for Rosoboronexport, the Russian defense industry's export wing, categorically denied that any bribe-giving or bribe-taking had taken place, saying, "it was a black-and-white, state-to-state agreement, there can be no questions about bribes," the St. Petersburg Times reported.

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