In limbo since he was suspended from his duties more than 4 months ago by Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, ground forces commander in chief Gen. Vladimir Semenov was finally dismissed by President Boris Yeltsin on April 11. The presidential decree also dismissed one of Semenov’s deputies, Col. Gen. Anton Terentyev, and 2 high-ranking naval officers: navy chief of staff Adm. Igor Khmelnov and the first deputy commander of the Northern Fleet, Vice Admiral Vyacheslav Kharnikov. These last three had been accused of abusing the power of their offices for personnel gain. (Interfax, April 11)
The case against Semenov was more complicated. Rodionov claims that he had been shown documents detailing the "shady deals practiced by [Semenov] and his wife." (Moskovsky komsomolets, April 12) Semenov’s wife works in the Moscow office of the Rosvertol helicopter company. Moreover, Semenov charged early on that the actions against him were also motivated by an ethnic factor insofar as some suspected him of sympathizing with, and perhaps even aiding, the Chechens. (Interfax, December 6, 1996) Semenov is a Karachay by birth — a native of the Karachay-Cherkess Republic in the Caucasus. Yevgeny Savostyanov, the president’s deputy chief of staff and head of the presidential administration’s personnel department, confirmed that one of the chief factors in Semenov’s dismissal had been the general’s perceived poor performance during the war in Chechnya. "This is the key but not the only reason," Savostyanov said. (Interfax, April 11)
For Rodionov, the April 11 decree comes as a sign of welcome if belated presidential support. The defense minister has chaffed under restrictions that only allow him to fire those whom he can appoint — officers no more senior than colonel.
Ukraine Adds Insult to Self-Inflicted Injury.