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Putin Names New Head Of Russian Armed Forces

19 July 2004 -- Russian President Vladimir Putin today dismissed several top military and security officers.

Putin dismissed Anatolii Kvashnin as chief of the armed forces, but decorated him for services to the Fatherland. Kvashnin was replaced by his deputy, General Yurii Baluyevskii.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the change was because "the difficult stage of developing the armed forces has ended and a new, more prosperous [stage] has started."

Ivanov said Kvashnin had been given "different work." Putin also dismissed the head of the Interior Ministry forces, General Vyacheslav Tikhomirov; the top military commander for the North Caucasus, General Mikhail Labunets; and the deputy chief of the Federal Security Service, Anatolii Yezhkov.

No official reason has been given for the changes, but Tikhomirov, Labunets, and Yezhkov were reprimanded after surprise attacks in the southern republic of Ingushetia last month that left some 90 people dead.

(AP/ITAR-TASS/Russian Service)