6/11 Tass 166
NOVO-OGAREVO, November 6 (Itar-Tass) — Russian President Vladimir Putin fired Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and appointed Sergei Shoigu the new defence 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 Defence Ministry, and in order to create conditions for an objective probe into all the issues, I decided to relieve Defence 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 defence 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 defence order" and the ambitious plans to supply new armaments to the army.
"You could be such a person," the head of state told Shoigu.
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "the decision on relieving Serdyukov of his duties was made by the president." Shoigu's appointment to the post of defence minister was made at the recommendation by the prime minister, according to Peskov.
The spokesman confirmed to Tass that Putin had met with Serdyukov before his meeting with Shoigu.
Shoigu acknowledged that the proposal to head the Defence Ministry had surprised him.
"I'll try to do my best," he said at the meeting with the president.
Shoigu promised to continue the work towards the modernization of the armed forces, leaning on the human resources and intellectual potential of the Defence Ministry.
"The personnel and intellectual potential should be used in full," Putin supported him. He called the Defence Ministry was one of the key departments.
The president reminded that Shoigu recently "began work as Moscow region governor, and created prerequisites to resolve the problems the region is facing."
"He has formed a team," the president said.
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 Defence Ministry. The cases were opened under the penal code articles on fraud and exceeding and abusing office powers.
According to the investigators, Defence 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 centre Yekaterina Smetanova, and her husband, entrepreneur and former director general of an Air Force storage facility in the Moscow Military District Maxim Zakutailo.