MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday dismissed the country’s military intelligence chief, a veteran who was reportedly opposed to Kremlin plans for sweeping military reform.
Medvedev signed a decree relieving Gen. Valentin Korabelnikov of his post as director of the GRU, a Kremlin statement said. The GRU, known by its Russian-language acronym, is Russia’s largest spy agency and has a dense global network of agents.
Korabelnikov, 63, had held the position since 1997 and is replaced by Lt. Gen. Alexander Shlyakturov, a first deputy in the organization.
The Kremlin gave no explanation for the dismissal of Korabelnikov, who was later named an adviser to the General Staff.
But analysts said Korabelnikov was seen as an obstacle to Kremlin plans to modernize Russia’s armed forces.
Independent military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said Korabelnikov clashed with Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov over plans to carve up the GRU and strip it of special units over which it wielded control.
“This is the beginning of a major reform of Russia’s military intelligence,” Felgenhauer said.
He added the Defense Ministry was positioning to bring the GRU under more direct control, effectively weakening the country’s General Staff. The ministry’s final aim, Felgenhauer said, was to create a body analogous to America’s Special Operations Command, which controls units across various government agencies and armed forces.
Another analyst, Alexander Golts, said the Kremlin was eager to shun generals with “a clear Soviet mentality.”
Korabelnikov, according to Golts, was too transfixed on traditional enemies such as the U.S. and failed to identify a steady buildup of weapons in Georgia before a short war with Russia in August.
Both said Korabelnikov’s replacement, Shlyakturov, was less likely to resist the reforms.