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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Top Police Official for Rallies Sacked

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday dismissed the Interior Ministry's top official responsible for policing street protests.

Putin dismissed Nikolai Pershutkin, head of the Interior Ministry's directorate for the protection of public order, a Kremlin spokeswoman said.

Putin will announce Pershutkin's replacement soon, she said.

Pershutkin's dismissal was not connected to his performance but "simply a personnel shake-up," said an Interior Ministry spokesman, who declined to elaborate or give his name.

The department Pershutkin headed is in charge of maintaining public order and organizing security measures during street protests. Putin also dismissed on Tuesday the heads of several regional Interior Ministry departments responsible for public order, including in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.

Kremlin critics have accused police of violently cracking down on opposition rallies ahead of national elections.