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Russia Fires Army Chief Of Airborne Troops

Lieutenant General Valery Yevtukhovich (file photo)
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The commander of Russia's Airborne Forces has been fired, Interfax news agency has quoted an unidentified source in Russia's Defense Ministry as saying.

Interfax said Lieutenant General Valery Yevtukhovich had been fired because he had reached the maximum age ceiling of 55 for his rank.

Spokesmen for the airborne troops and Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report. A Kremlin spokeswoman said she had not seen any document on Yevtukhovich's resignation.

Nikolai Ignatov, chief of the Airborne Forces' staff, was appointed acting commander of Russian paratroopers on May 6, Interfax reported.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last month dismissed the head of military intelligence, who had criticized plans to reform the armed forces.

Under the reform, the number of generals will be slashed and the armed forces will be cut to 1 million from more than 1.1 million.

Russia plans to replace its largely demoralized and top-heavy military structures with mobile, professional, and well-equipped armed forces able to fight and win a modern war like the one in Georgia last year.

Russian Airborne Forces, the most mobile of Russian troops, played a key role in that conflict in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region when Russia crushed Georgian troops in five days and briefly occupied large chunks of Georgian land.