Russian Defense Minister |Purges Fleet Command

     MOSCOW (AP) — The admiral in charge of Russia’s Baltic Fleet has been fired along with his senior officers over unspecified flaws, a sweeping purge that has no precedent in the nation’s post-Soviet history.
     Online news portal Fontanka.ru reported Thursday that 50 senior officers of the fleet were fired alongside its chief. It said the purges followed alleged cover-up of a submarine accident, flaws in recruitment and military construction projects.
     The Defense Ministry announced the purge in a terse statement late Wednesday. It said the fleet commander, Vice Adm. Viktor Kravchuk, his chief of staff, Rear Adm. Sergei Popov, and an undisclosed number of other senior officers of the fleets have been fired over serious flaws in combat training and their failure to take proper care of personnel.
     It also mentioned that the fired officers had provided false reports about the fleet’s condition.
     The purges’ scope and publicity make them highly unusual for the Russian military, which usually removes senior officers in a more subtle way. It’s particularly unexpected as it follows President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Baltic Fleet last year, during which he praised its performance.
     Media reports have claimed that among possible reasons for Kravchuk’s ouster was the miserable condition of the fleet officers’ housing in the fleet’s main base, the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad that borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. A dormitory housing officers’ families was reportedly in such poor condition that one section collapsed.
     Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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