Russia's Putin fires top general amid corruption scandal

MOSCOW Fri Nov 9, 2012 12:31pm GMT

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with then Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov (C) and Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi September 21, 2012. REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/Ria Novosti/Pool

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) meets with then Chief of Staff General Nikolai Makarov (C) and Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in Sochi September 21, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alexsey Druginyn/Ria Novosti/Pool

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin dismissed the chief of staff of Russia's armed forces on Friday in a reshuffle of the military top brass, three days after sacking his defence minister following a corruption scandal.

Putin removed General Nikolai Makarov as his top general and replaced him with General Valery Gerasimov, the commander of Russia's forces in the central military district who has served in the turbulent Chechnya region.

The shakeup at the top of the armed forces of a country that is a nuclear power and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council followed rapidly after the abrupt dismissal of Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Tuesday.

The changes made clear that the new defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, was immediately making his mark on the ministry. Putin said Gerasimov was Shoigu's choice.

"I think that the minister has picked a suitable candidate and I hope that you will work hard and efficiently," Putin said at a meeting with Shoigu and Gerasimov.

Serdyukov was replaced following the launch of an investigation into corruption at a Defence Ministry company. He had made many enemies in the world of politics and the military as he carried out reforms to modernise the armed forces.

Gerasimov has been deputy chief of the general staff since 2010 and is a veteran of the Soviet and Russian armies.

Gerasimov was also appointed first deputy defence minister in a decree signed by Putin.

Separately, Putin named Arkady Bakhin as another first deputy defence minister, relieving him of his position as commander of Russia's forces in its western military district.

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Lidia Kelly and Timothy Heritage)

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