News in Brief

Army Reforms Criticized

Two former military leaders called on Tuesday for Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to be fired and prosecuted, saying his plan to dismiss two-thirds of the officer corps would destroy the country's armed forces.

The warnings are the most public criticism of the reforms to date and reflect rising anger among uniformed and civilian military officials.

"This isn't reform. You can't call the destruction of the army reform," retired Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov told reporters.

Retired Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, the former head of the Defense Ministry's international cooperation department, called Serdyukov "the furniture dealer" -- a reference to his past experience running a St. Petersburg furniture retailer -- and accused him of having no authority to carry out the reforms.

He accused Serdyukov of embezzling Defense Ministry funding and called for criminal investigation of his actions. In the past, he said, Serdyukov had inflicted on the army "more harm than a NATO agent." (AP)

Yukos Detainee Loses Spleen

Former Yukos vice president Vasily Aleksanyan, who is being treated for AIDS-related lymphoma, has had his spleen removed, his lawyer Yelena Lvova said Tuesday.

"He underwent an operation, and he is under guard in the hospital," she said on Ekho Moskvy radio.

Aleksanyan, who is being treated at City Hospital No. 60 in eastern Moscow, has been under guard since he was hospitalized in February.

Aleksanyan was detained in April 2006 on charges of embezzlement and money laundering. He has said he was denied AIDS treatment before being hospitalized.

His supporters say he is a political prisoner being punished for refusing to give evidence against his jailed former bosses, Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. (MT)

Prosecutors Warn Newsweek

Prosecutors said Tuesday that they have warned Newsweek's Russian edition that it was in violation of the media law by publishing two articles that they said incited ethnic strife.

According to the media law, a media outlet can lose its license after two warnings.

The Moscow northeast prosecutor's office sent Russian Newsweek the warning over articles published on Sept. 29 and Oct. 5 that compared the Muslim and Christian faiths, the Moscow City Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

"The way the information was presented, as well as the illustrations and photographs attached, could sound insulting and humiliating for Islamic social groups, shape a negative image of Muslims and picture the Muslim and Christian cultures as opposed to each other," said the statement, which was carried by Interfax. (MT)

Kasparov Sees Power Shift

Rising unemployment and economic crisis in Russia will force Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev from power by 2012, opposition leader Garry Kasparov predicted Tuesday.

"I believe this regime will not see 2012. It is probable it will not see out 2010. Things are unfolding too fast," Kasparov said in an interview. "This structure will collapse."

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined comment but noted that Kasparov had never been elected to office, and "unfortunately he has been unable to take any place at all in politics or on the margins of politics." (Reuters)