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Putin fires Serdyukov; Shoigu to replace him

November 06, 2012, 12:04 UTC+3

Putin announced the reshuffle at a meeting with Shoigu

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NOVO OGARYOVO, November 6 (Itar-Tass) — Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and appointed Sergei Shoigu the new defense minister. Shoigu has worked as Moscow region governor until now.

Putin announced the reshuffle at a meeting with Shoigu on Tuesday. "Taking into account the situation around the Defense Ministry, and in order to create conditions for an objective probe into all the issues, I decided to relieve Defense Minister Serdyukov of his duties," Putin said.

He noted that "in the recent years, much has been down for the development of the armed forces, for resolving social issues including the housing problem."

In the president’s view, the new defense minister "should be the person who can continue all the positive in the dynamic development of the armed forces, and ensure the implementation of the state defense order" and the ambitious plans to supply new armaments to the army.

"You could be such a person," the head of state told Shoigu.

Earlier, the main military investigation department opened five criminal cases over fraud in the sales of real estate, land plots and shares belonging to the Oboronservis company which is subordinate to the Defense Ministry. The cases were opened under the penal code articles on fraud and exceeding and abusing office powers.

According to the investigators, Defense Ministry officials selected the most liquid and prestigious facilities, land plots and shares from the Oboronservis inventory. Then, tremendous budget funds were invested into these assets and the property was sold at very understated prices to the commercial bodies affiliated with Oboronservis.

Many facilities were bought with the money stolen from Oboronservis.

According to preliminary estimates, the damage from the sale of eight real estate facilities exceeds three billion roubles.

On November 1, a court sanctioned the arrest, within the framework of this case, of former head of the "Expert" legal support center Yekaterina Smetanova, and her husband, entrepreneur and former director general of an Air Force storage facility in the Moscow Military District Maxim Zakutailo.

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