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Putin Fires Russian Police Officials

28 February 2005 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired six deputy interior ministers, including a top officer in the restive southern Russian region.

The Kremlin said in a statement today the sacked Interior Ministry officials included the head of the department of economic and tax crimes and the chief of the ministry's internal investigation department.

The statement gave no motives for the president's order.

The Interfax news agency said the sacking were connected with the Interior Ministry's restructuring. Ekho Moskvy radio noted that the fired deputy ministers included Sergei Shchadrin, who had overseen the investigation into alleged police abuse and use of excessive force in the Ural Mountains city of Blagoveshchensk late last year. In that four-day operation, human rights activists say hundreds of people were detained and more than 100 injured .

Putin named two new deputy interior ministers.