As predicted by various well-placed sources in Moscow earlier this month (see Chechnya Weekly, July 7), General Anatoly Kvashnin has been fired from his position as chief of staff of the Russian armed forces. He and several other high-ranking officers are clearly being made to bear the blame for last month’s successful guerrilla raid on Ingushetia. But Kvashnin’s deputy chief of staff Yuri Baluyevsky was named as his successor, and it remains far from clear that the personnel shakeup will lead to large reforms in the military.
Also as widely predicted, Kvashnin was appointed as a deputy to the head of the Kremlin’s Security Council.
Kvashnin had held the post of chief of staff since 1997. During his tenure, major reforms such as a serious transition to a truly professional army were repeatedly promised but never delivered. He repeatedly clashed with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and resisted efforts to trim the army’s top-heavy officer corps.
Other casualties of the personnel shakeup were generals Vyacheslav Tikhomirov, Anatoly Yezhkov and Mikhail Labunets. According to an unnamed “highly placed source in the Russian security structures” quoted by Interfax on July 19, their departures were also connected with the federal defeat in Ingushetia. Tikhomirov, who was deputy Interior Minister and commander of the Interior Ministry’s troops, had been harshly criticized by Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev for the poor performance of his troops in Ingushetia, Gazeta.ru reported on July 16. Yezhkov had been a deputy director of the FSB, specializing in the North Caucasus; Labunets had been commander of the interior ministry’s troops for the North Caucasus.