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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russian Airborne Troops chief dismissed on reaching age limit

RIA Novosti

06/05/2009 16:36 MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - Lt. Gen. Valery Yevtukhovich has been dismissed as commander of the Russian Airborne Troops due to reaching the retirement age, a Defense Ministry source said on Wednesday.

"Yevtukhovich has been dismissed because he turned 55 on April 17, which is the age limit for his rank of lieutenant general," the source said.

He added that the Airborne Troops chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Nikolai Ignatov, was temporarily fulfilling the commander's duties.

"The new commander should be appointed after the Victory Day celebrations [on May 9]," the source said.

The Defense Ministry plans to cut 130,000 Armed Forces personnel, bringing numbers down to 1 million by 2016 as part of a military reform launched under former president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said in April that a large number of senior military officers would be dismissed due to reaching the retirement age or failing to pass a military aptitude test.

Experts have warned, though, that the move could undermine the Army's capabilities, with some saying 1 million personnel would not be enough to protect Russia's vast territory. The changes proposed under the reforms have also been criticized for lacking clarity and sufficient financing.

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