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Lithuanian Air Force Chief Fired

26 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Lithuania's air force chief has been fired in connection with the investigation of the crash of a Russian military plane.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said he could not elaborate on why he fired Jonas Marcinkus, except that it was connected to the crash.

The Sukhoi-27 jet fighter crashed on 15 September while traveling from St. Petersburg to Russia's exclave of Kaliningrad. The pilot, who ejected safely and is in Lithuanian custody, is accused of violating Lithuanian airspace.

Investigators today began decoding the plane's two flight-data recorders. Kirkilas said he expects the investigation to conclude toward the end of this week.


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