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Military reform relaxes control on arms trafficking in Russia, prosecutor says

RIA Novosti

13:2627/05/2010 MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - Military reforms that are under way in Russia have resulted in a worsening of control over arms trafficking in the country, Russia's chief military prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said on Thursday.

"This has been, to a large extent, the reason of negative trends," Fridinsky was quoted as saying on the Russian Prosecutor General's Office's website.

He said the number of crimes related with illegal arms trafficking was two times higher last year compared with 2008.

Moreover, the slack in control over weapons at times becomes the reason for accidents, he said, pointing to a series of explosions at an arms store in Russia's Volga city of Ulyanovsk in November 2009. The explosions, which happened during the disposal of arms, claimed the lives of more than 10 people.

Russian authorities have moved to modernize the country's Armed Forces, declaring it a priority for the country, following the August 2008 war with Georgia over South Ossetia.

The reforms have sparked criticism from many Russian top military officials, with some of them resigning in protest.

In line with the reforms, Russia will downsize its military by some 130,000 soldiers to 1 million personnel by 2016, enlisting 150,000 officers and about 745,000 soldiers.

A comprehensive rearmament of Russia's Armed Forces is scheduled to begin in 2011. The share of modern weaponry in the Army is expected to reach 30% by 2015, and would total 70% by 2020.

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