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Kremlin Sacks Generals Over Arms Depot Blasts


Russian NTV screen grab of a blast at an arms depot outside the central Russian city of Ulyanovsk on November 13

Russian NTV screen grab of a blast at an arms depot outside the central Russian city of Ulyanovsk on November 13

ULYANOVSK, Russia (Reuters) -- President Dmitry Medvedev has sacked several senior generals over a series of explosions at an arms depot in central Russia this month in which 10 people were killed.

Two people died when a chain of ammunition explosions ripped through the navy arsenal in Ulyanovsk, 800 kilometers east of Moscow on November 13. Eight more were killed at the depot 10 days later when shells exploded during a clear-up operation.

"Unfortunately, this was possible because of lack of control from the Defense Ministry leadership and criminal negligence by those responsible for destroying old ammunition at the depot," Medvedev told reporters during a visit to Ulyanovsk.

He said he had dismissed from military service the heads of the Defense Ministry's engineering and artillery departments and a deputy regional commander. He ordered Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to sack the head of Depot 31, where the blasts took place.

"The quality of storing ammunition should be checked and I order the defense minister to conduct a complete review. I give you one month," Medvedev said, standing next to Serdyukov.

Serdyukov, backed by Medvedev and powerful Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is aiming to reform the Russian armed forces to turn the rusty Soviet-era machine into a mobile force capable of fighting in modern conflicts.

His military reform has met resistance from many officers, some of whom have lost their jobs.
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