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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Career Official Named Customs Service Chief

Career customs official Mikhail Vanin has been named customs chief, replacing Nikolai Bordyuzha, who abruptly resigned after holding the post for just over a month, the State Customs Committee said Friday.

Deputy chief Mikhail Yegorov, who served as acting customs chief for the second time in a month after Bordyuzha's unexplained resignation Monday, will remain in the No. 2 spot, a customs spokeswoman said.

The appointment of Vanin on Thursday marks the latest shake-up at the customs service, vital to the state for its role in collecting more than half of all federal revenues. Prior to Bordyuzha, customs chief Valery Draganov was mysteriously sacked by then-Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov in April. Draganov says he was the victim of political infighting.

Customs officials were unable to say Friday why Vanin, who was effectively on paid leave in the customs' reserve, was picked to head the committee.

Vanin was not available to comment Friday.

Draganov sent Vanin, then the head of the service's department for fighting customs graft, to the reserves last June just as the customs chief was launching a war on corruption. In the crackdown, another 700 customs officers including five customs department heads were fired or put in the reserves and 70 officers were put under investigation.

A customs source on Friday refused to say if Vanin's demotion last year had been linked to suspicions of corruption.

"After Vanin was put in the reserve, he was still receiving his wages ? and must have shown up at work at least once a week," said the source, asking not to be identified.

The source said that while Vanin may not be as qualified as Draganov for the post, his history with the service made him a better choice than an outsider.

"His level of competence is limited to the head of a department only. I am even not sure that Vanin will be able to cope with such a position," the official said.

"But Vanin is ours," the official added. "He has worked here for six years and such a term means that his connections are good, too. The forces behind him are quite strong."