MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed six generals and one colonel from the Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) on Monday, following a minor scandal that unfolded last week.
The FSKN press service said the dismissals, enacted by presidential decree, were part of a routine personnel rotation, and played down media speculation linking them to recent allegations of bribery and drug use in the service.
“All personnel changes are connected to the rotation of top executive personnel at drug-control agencies,” the FSKN press service said in a statement.
According to the press service, the officials – all of them heads or deputy heads of major FSKN subdivisions – have been dismissed because they had reached retirement age or the end of their contracts, had worked long enough to be eligible for early retirement or had been transferred to another government job.
The dismissals seem to have triggered some media speculation, as the FSKN statement said that, “unfortunately, some media have explained this with facts totally unrelated to the staff dismissals, in other words the information they are spreading does not correspond to reality.”
At least one Russian news story about the dismissals referred back to a spate of recently reported searches conducted at the homes and offices of FSKN officials by the service’s internal security personnel.
Reports of the searches surfaced last week within a day of official news that the chief of the investigations unit of the FSKN’s Moscow Directorate and three of his subordinates had been fired for “gross violations of professional discipline.” Unconfirmed press reports at the time said those dismissals had to do with bribes in exchange for lenient treatment of drug-offense suspects.
Meanwhile, last Friday, the head of the FSKN’s Moscow Directorate, Lt. Gen. Vyacheslav Davydov, admitted there had been drug users among FSKN staff.
Davydov said about 40 percent of people applying for work in drug control are rejected, for reasons including positive results on drug tests, but, despite this, drug users have been identified among serving FSKN officers. He did not provide any figures, saying only the number was “a handful” and that all were immediately fired.
President Putin has repeatedly condemned the scourge of narcotics in Russia, saying in his state-of-the-nation address last year that drug use, smoking and alcohol “prematurely take away hundreds of thousands of our citizens’ lives each year.” According to a 2012 report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Russia “is now one of the largest markets for Afghan opiates, consuming nearly one-fifth of total Afghan heroin output in recent years.”
The FSKN officials dismissed Monday, all with police ranks, were: Maj. Gen. Alexander Kravchenko, head of the Marii El Republic Directorate; Maj. Gen. Alexander Ushakov, head of the Murmansk Directorate; Maj. Gen. German Shirokov, head of the Novgorod Directorate; Maj. Gen. Sergei Amelin, deputy head of the Novosibirsk Region Directorate; Maj. Gen. Sergei Buzinov, head of the FSKN’s internal security department; and Lt. Gen. Alexander Kirushev, first deputy head of the FSKN’s special operations department.
Col. Mikhail Shavelkin, deputy head of the special operations department’s subdivision for preventing drug-related crime, was also fired.
Updated with background on Putin and drug use in Russia.