Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 210

In a terse decree issued on November 8 President Boris Yeltsin fired the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, Adm. Feliks Gromov, and dismissed him from military service. The action came one day after a naval mine and torpedo storage depot blew up in Vladivostok — the fifth such incident in the Pacific Fleet over the past five years. Gromov, who had led the Russian Navy for five years, is succeeded by his first deputy, Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov, himself a former commander of the Pacific Fleet.

The Defense Ministry insisted that Gromov — who turned 60 on August 29 — was let go solely because of his age. However from the timing and abrupt language of the decree it was clear that the November 7 explosion was the final straw. Twelve of the 56 facilities holding mines and torpedoes at the depot on the outskirts of Vladivostok exploded, shaking buildings throughout the city and cutting off heat and power to two adjacent towns. Miraculously, no one was killed in the explosion, which also blew out part of a hill and left a crater some 30 meters in diameter.

Although 60 is the mandatory military retirement age in the Russian armed forces, exceptions can be made for senior commanders. Just before Gromov’s last birthday, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev had indicated that the admiral would be retained in his post. (Russian media, November 7-8)

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