Vladimir Putin is continuing a sweeping crackdown on corruption and insubordination at the highest levels of the Russian government
Vladimir Putin showed who was boss last week when he took action against 14 high-ranking officials who flouted a presidential directive not to participate in elections to the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The officials held top posts in the FSB, defense ministry, ministries of interior and education, and the presidential property management department.
Membership in the academy is reserved for distinguished academics. Unconvinced the officials deserved the title, Putin had ordered them not to participate in the elections. However, they were elected anyway.
Due to their seeming lack of qualifications for membership in the academy, the implication is that the Academy of Sciences is corrupt and the officials obtained the title through some form of bribery.
Only a few weeks ago, the Academy elected controversial former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a member in a surprise move.
The air was tense as Putin publicly interrogated and humiliated the president of the academy, Vladimir Fortov, over the corrupt election. Russian news agency TASS reported on what happened next:
At a meeting of the presidential council for science and education last week President Putin asked Russian Academy of Sciences President Vladimir Fortov why several senior officials had been elected as RAS members in defiance of his objections. Putin said he was going to give such officials "a chance to dedicate themselves to science, as their research activity looks far more important to them than their routine administrative duties at their posts in bodies of power and management."
Additional details of the firings:
The RAS has told TASS fourteen senior officials, including the chief of the Defense Ministry’s main military medical directorate Aleksandr Fisun had become its members this year. The elections of RAS members ended on October 28 this year. The candidatures of 176 newly-elected full members and 323 new corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences were approved. The title of RAS member can be rejected only if the scientist declares this intention in advance and the motion is supported by a majority at a general meeting of the Academy. The next RAS general meeting is due at the end of March 2017.
The president dismissed the chief of the registration and archive funds directorate of the federal security service FSB, Lieutenant-General Vasily Khristoforov from his post and military service for age reasons.
Deputy chief of the presidential property management directorate, head of the presidential property management directorate’s main medical department Konstantin Kotenko, chief of the Russian Defense Ministry’s main military medical directorate Aleksandr Fisun and Deputy Interior Minister, head of the Interior Ministry’s investigations department Aleksandr Savenkov were dismissed of their own accord.
This is just the latest episode in what appears to be a sweeping purge of the high ranks of government in recent months. President Putin's longtime chief-of-staff Sergei Ivanov was sacked in August, and long-time SVR director Mikhail Fradkov was replaced by the former Chairman of the State Duma, Sergei Naryshkin in September.
Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukaev was fired from his post and brought up on charges of accepting a $2 million bribe earlier this month.
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