Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired two top-ranking generals charged with investigating graft for potentially carrying out their own corruption scams. The corruption investigations come amid a crackdown on Russia's elites and Putin's longtime allies.
Putin dismissed Friday from the country’s Investigative Committee Major-General Dmitry Shershakov, the deputy head of the main sirectorate’s commission for combating corruption, and Vitaly Frolov, the first deputy head of the Investigative Committee oversight commission.
The Investigative Committee has previously been linked to charges of corruption. In July, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) arrested several employees of the Investigative Committee’s Moscow branch, including its deputy head Denis Nikandrov, who was tied to a $1 million bribe for helping notorious crime boss Shakro Molodoi, or Young Shakro.
Alexander Bastrykin, chairman of Russia’s Investigative Committee, called the officials "betrayers" who had "besmirched" their colleagues' reputations, the Moscow Times reported.
But they aren't the only Russian elites who have fallen out of favor in recent months. Among those who have recently been pushed out of their posts are: Yevgeny Murov, former head of the Federal Protection Service; Viktor Ivanov,former head of the Federal Narcotics Service; Konstantin Romodanovsky, former head of the Migration Service; Andrei Belianinov, former head of the Customs Service; and Vladimir Yakunin, former chief of Russian Railways.
Earlier this month, Putin fired one of his closest allies, Sergei Ivanov, his chief of staff, in what the Associated Press called, "the most high-profile power reshuffle at the Kremlin in years." Ivanov is a former defense minister and deputy prime minister.
Ivanov is the latest long-standing Putin ally to have been sidelined in what analysts described as Moscow's attempt to bring in a new, younger entourage amid an increasingly shaky economy, with Russia facing its widest budget deficit since 2010, and tense relations with the European Union and the United States over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. In short, Putin is sending a warning to elites to remain loyal, observers claim.
"The received wisdom that President Vladimir Putin does not part with old friends is now demolished," a Newsweek opinion article proclaimed Sunday. "The effect that Vladimir Putin is aiming for is that of a purge—a process that helps to get rid of former partners and make those who stay onboard dependent, filling them with fear and showing them their place."