UPDATE 2-Putin extends Russian defence ministry reshuffle

Thomas Grove
Reuters Middle East

* Two new appointees are allies of new defence minister

* Reshuffle on heels of probe into ministry corruption

(Adds Russian Technologies statement)

MOSCOW, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin

fired two defence ministry deputies on Thursday, broadening a

reshuffle after the sacking of the defence minister last week

over a fraud investigation.

Putin dismissed deputy minister Yelena Kozlova, who oversaw

finances, and Dmitry Chushkin, who was in charge of

communications technologies, naming two associates of the new

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as their replacements.

The move strengthens the grip of Putin and Shoigu at the

ministry, which channels billions of tax dollars every year

through Russia's huge defence industry, the world's second

largest arms exporter.

"With his order, the president has released the Defence

Ministry deputies ... from their positions," said a statement

published on the Kremlin website.

Putin fired Anatoly Serdyukov as defence minister on Nov. 6

and replaced the head of the armed forces general staff three

days later.

Shoigu and his allies are expected to push through root and

branch military reform and oversee spending of 23 trillion

roubles ($724 billion) to replace Russia's ageing armaments by

the end of the decade.

One of the new deputy ministers is Ruslan Tsalikov, a

trusted Shoigu ally who worked directly under him in the

Emergencies Ministry and then again in the Moscow region when

Shoigu moved to become governor of the province.

The other newcomer is Yuri Borisov, the first deputy

chairman of a defence industry board.

Serdyukov was dismissed last week soon after the start of an

investigation into suspicions that a defence ministry firm sold

property to insider companies at a loss of almost $100 million.

The ex-minister has not yet come under investigation himself.

The public announcement of Serdyukov's dismissal was likely

meant to show that Putin entering his third term as president is

serious about cracking down on corruption that is rife in the

armed forces and defence industry.

Defence firm Russian Technologies on Thursday evening denied

media reports saying Serdyukov had been appointed as a

consultant to the company's head, Sergei Chemezov.

Russia's Investigative Committee, which answers only to

Putin, has said its defence ministry fraud investigation will


(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Mark


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