Putin fires top general after graft scandal

Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced the chief of his military staff on Friday in a reshuffle that stamped the authority of the Kremlin chief, and his new defence minister, on the armed forces after a corruption scandal.

Putin removed General Nikolai Makarov after four years as the nuclear power's top general and replaced him with General Valery Gerasimov, 57, a commander who fought Muslim separatists in the Chechnya region.

Changes had been expected to allow new Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to bring in his own team after replacing Anatoly Serdyukov, sacked on Tuesday after an investigation began into suspicious sales of ministry property to insiders.

Putin told Gerasimov to press on with reforms to modernise the armed forces and, hinting at tensions that had mounted under Serdyukov's stewardship, the president told him to improve relations with the defence industry.

“I hope very much that you and the minister will be able to build a good and stable relationship with our leading enterprises in the defence ministry,” Putin said during a televised meeting with Gerasimov and Shoigu. He also referred to indirectly to Serdyukov’s poor ties with industry chiefs.

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