MOSCOW/MAKHACHKALA: Russia’s Putin fires chief of his defense staff, the Kremlin said on Friday, days after sacking his defense minister over a corruption and sleaze scandal.
Putin dismissed General Nikolai Makarov and replaced him with General Valery Gerasimov, the commander of Russia’s forces in the central military district who has seen active service in Chechnya.
Police in the volatile province of Dagestan in southern Russia says three suspected militants and a soldier have been killed in two separate incidents.
Dagestan Interior Ministry spokesman Vyacheslav Gasanov said that on Thursday police in the town of Khasavyurt stormed an apartment where suspected militants had holed up, killing two men and one woman.
In a separate incident in the town of Buinaksk, unidentified assailants ambushed a vehicle, killing a serviceman from a local military base and wounding a civilian contractor.
Dagestan has become the epicenter of an insurgency that has spread across the region after two separatist wars in Chechnya. Shootings, bombings and police security sweeps occur on a daily basis in the Caspian Sea region, which borders Chechnya to the east.
Police probe alleged theft of summit funds
Russia’s interior ministry has launched a probe into the alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars earmarked for hosting a recent Pacific summit.
The ministry said Thursday it was looking into the allegations that more than 93 million rubles (about $ 3 million) of state funds had been stolen. It didn’t identify possible culprits.
Russian news reports said that police were searching the offices of the Ministry of Regional Development in Moscow and its branch in the Pacific port of Vladivostok as part of the investigation.
Russia had allocated $20 billion for hosting September’s APEC summit in the long-neglected city. Critics have said too much was spent to impress the visitors, especially given the area’s more acute needs, and some reports have alleged that part of the money was stolen.