APPOINTMENT OF ADMIRAL MIKHAIL ZAKHARENKO AS SENIOR DEPUTY NAVY COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF MAY BE THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS DISMISSAL OF ADMIRAL KUROEDOV

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By Nikolai Gulkovsky Kommersant-daily, July 23, 2001, p. 3

Regardless of the outcome of the Kursk salvage operation, it appears that Admiral Kuroedov’s days as Navy commander-in-chief are numbered

Reshuffling personnel have occurred within the Russian Navy command. By presidential decrees, Admiral Mikhail Zakharenko, Commander of the Pacific Fleet, has been appointed senior deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, and Vice Admiral Gennady Suchkov has assumed his post, a former deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet. If Admiral Vladimir Kuroedov, the current commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, is dismissed, his place will be assumed by Admiral Zakharenko.

At first glance, there is nothing peculiar about these changes. Such exchanges between commanders of different fleets are a usual thing, and a career growth of a deputy commander of one fleet to commander of another one is fairly normal. In addition, Admiral Kuroedov himself commanded the Pacific Fleet at one time, and his desire to have a Far-Eastern admiral as one of his deputies appears logical. (…)

However, the presidential decree regarding the appointment of Admiral Zakharchenko contains one important detail. In 1997, posts of senior deputy commanders of all types of the armed forces were liquidated. However, now this post in the structure of the Navy Main Command has been restored specially for the former commander of the Pacific Fleet. In layman terms, this means that Admiral Zakharchenko’s appointment may become the first step towards a combination maneuver initiated by the president. A second step along this way will apparently be the dismissal of Admiral Kuroedov and the appointment of his new Senior Deputy as a new Navy commander-in-chief.

We should remind our readers that Admiral Kuroedov already submitted his resignation once – immediately after the sinking of the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk last year. At that juncture, the president refused the resignation until the investigation reaches a conclusion. If the current operation to lift the Kursk hull proves a success, the causes of the submarine’s crash will soon be revealed. On the other hand, if the operation is a failure, the head of state will hold those persons connected responsible.

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