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    Russian Defense Firm Fires Chief After Fraud Scandal

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    The board of directors of Russia's Oboronservis defense property services company, which has been tainted by a string of fraud scandals, decided on Tuesday to fire its general director Sergei Khursevich, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.

    MOSCOW, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - The board of directors of Russia's Oboronservis defense property services company, which has been tainted by a string of fraud scandals, decided on Tuesday to fire its general director Sergei Khursevich, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.

    The move comes a day after it was revealed that the military's chief prosecutor, Sergei Fridinsky, wrote to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in March calling for Khursevich's dismissal.

    Fridinsky made the appeal to Shoigu following allegations Khursevich interfered with a contract to buy Italian-built Iveco military vehicles in order to avoid paying import duties, a source in the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office said Monday.

    The Defense Ministry confirmed on Tuesday that it received Fridinsky’s request, which mentioned “numerous violations committed by the former head of Oboronservis.”

    The losses to the state "caused by Khursevich's actions" were estimated at 145 million rubles ($4.6 million), Kommersant newspaper said Monday, citing Fridinsky.

    Khursevich’s deputy Sergei Shtykulin has been appointed acting head of Oboronservis, which provides a huge range of support services to the Russian military including property maintenance, fuel and power supplies and maintenance.

    Oboronservis has been at the center of a string of high-profile scandals since late last year, when several of its managers were arrested on suspicion of fraud involving the illegal sale of ministry property. Then Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov resigned shortly after the scandal broke, and was replaced by Shoigu.

    The Russian government announced a major crackdown on corruption in the defense sector late last year, with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who has responsibility for the industry, saying in November a "clean-out is inevitable."

     

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