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Russian President Vladimir Putin today fired his defense minister, who is embroiled in a real estate corruption scandal.
"The firing of Anatoly E. Serdyukov, a longtime Putin ally, is one of the highest-level dismissals connected to a corruption case in recent memory in Russia. It was also a departure for Mr. Putin, a leader who has been reluctant to dismiss members of his inner circle. Mr. Putin announced the decision to fire Mr. Serdyukov in a meeting with another longtime political ally, Sergei K. Shoigu, the former minister of emergency situations, whom he appointed the new defense minister.
"In the past, officials within the tight coterie of ministers and state company managers who have been close to Mr. Putin for years have typically circulated between jobs rather than been summarily fired."
Reuters reports that Putin announced the firing on television after authorities raided the offices of Serdyukov's Defense Ministry firm. Reuters explains that Serdyukov is suspected of selling government assets to commercial firms at nearly a $100 million loss.
Still, the BBC says Serdyukov's firing is "out of character" for the Kremlin.
"It is one of Vladimir Putin's principles of power: if you're inside his inner circle and stay loyal, he'll remain loyal to you," the BBC's Steve Rosenberg reports. Maybe this is Putin signaling that he's "serious about battling corruption."