7 Nov 2012

Russian defence minister sacked

6:52 am on 7 November 2012

President Vladimir Putin of Russia has sacked the minister of defence after his ministry was caught up in a corruption scandal.

Anatoly Serdyukov has been replaced with a former emergencies minister and loyal ally of Mr Putin, Sergei Shoigu.

The sale of ministry assets at prices below market value is being investigated.

Last month, investigators raided the offices of a state-controlled military contractor and began investigating the company amid claims that it had sold assets to commercial firms at a loss of nearly 3 billion roubles ($US100 million).

Oboronservice's activities include servicing military aircraft and arms and constructing military facilities.

Mr Serdyukov was a furniture store executive and head of the Russian tax service before being appointed defence minister in 2007.

In the six years that he was defence minister, Mr Serdyukov tried to reform Russia's outdated armed forces by cutting costs and personnel and by boosting efficiency.

Under his reforms, there were big cuts in army personnel, and military assets were put in civilian hands. He also forced defence manufacturers to accept lower prices.

Olnng the way, a BBC correspondent says, he made enemies in the armed services.