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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chaika Sacks 6 of His Deputies

New Prosecutor General Yury Chaika fired the chief military prosecutor and five deputy prosecutors Wednesday in an overhaul of the Prosecutor General's Office that removes several officials linked to incompetence or corruption.

Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov, however, had made a name for himself as being independent and fair, and his dismissal dismayed soldiers' rights activists.

The fired deputy prosecutors include First Deputy Prosecutor General Yury Biryukov, who blocked a high-profile smuggling investigation into the Tri Kita and Grand furniture stores; the outspoken Vladimir Kolesnikov; Nicholai Shepel, who oversaw the Beslan investigation; and Anatoly Bondar and Valentin Simuchenkov, Interfax reported late Wednesday.

Chaika said he would replace Savenkov with Deputy Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky, a move that looks like a victory for Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. Savenkov had repeatedly and publicly criticized Ivanov for not doing more to prevent hazing. He shocked the country in January by announcing that a brutal New Year's hazing incident had forced doctors to amputate a conscript's legs and genitals.

"Savenkov was an independent and qualified chief prosecutor who made sure that his subordinates investigated army crimes properly, at least in recent years," said Valentina Melnikova, head of the Union of Soldiers' Mothers Committees, a group that defends soldiers' rights.

"Judging by his previous record in Chechnya, I am not sure that Fridinsky will be independent and strong enough to resist the pressure of the military, which will be trying to cover up crime in the army," she said.

Under former Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, Fridinsky headed the prosecutor's office for the Southern Federal District from 2000 to 2004. The district includes Chechnya. Fridinsky then moved to the main office in Moscow, where he came under the spotlight for heading an investigation into the adoption of children by foreigners.

The dismissals come a week after Chaika, who was appointed prosecutor general in mid-June, told all 13 of his deputies to submit their resignations but indicated that not all of them would go. He immediately accepted the resignation of the Moscow city prosecutor, however.

Chaika on Wednesday named Alexander Buksman and Viktor Gulyagin, both allies from his recent tenure as justice minister, as new deputy prosecutors, Interfax said, citing Viktor Ozerov, head of the Federation Council's Defense and Security Committee.

The other deputy posts will be filled by former Moscow Prosecutor Ivan Sidoruk, Krasnoyarsk Prosecutor Viktor Grin and Buryatia Prosecutor Ivan Semchishin, Ozerov said.

The Federation Council has to approve the shakeup, but it is expected to do so easily on Friday.

Fridisnky's successor in the North Caucasus, Shepel, led the investigation into the Beslan school hostage-taking, and former hostages have bitterly accused him of refusing to accept evidence that did not back up the official version of events.

Protests from Beslan activist groups prompted President Vladimir Putin last year to send a second deputy of Ustinov's, Kolesnikov, to Beslan to conduct an investigation into the performance of Shepel's team. Kolesnikov cleared the team of wrongdoing and opened several fraud and corruption investigations into senior North Ossetian officials who had tacitly supported the activists.

It was not clear where the fired prosecutors would go, but some were likely to follow Ustinov to the Justice Ministry, where he is now minister.

Kolesnikov, 58, who once promised to jail all oligarchs, will probably retire. He recently said he would run for the State Duma next year.