MOSCOW, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Russia appointed Major
General Igor Sergun as the new chief of the GRU military
intelligence service, the country's biggest espionage agency,
Russian news agencies quoted a Defence Ministry spokesman as
saying on Monday.
No other details were given about the new head of the GRU,
an organisation so secretive it has neither a spokesman nor a
The state-run newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta described Sergun
as a career spy and cited sources as saying he had served as
deputy to the outgoing GRU chief Alexander Shlyakhturov.
Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Interfax
that Shlyakhturov, 64, was removed after reaching retirement age
for military servicemen.
The Kommersant newspaper, citing unidentified sources on
Saturday, said Shlyakhturov, who was appointed by President
Dmitry Medvedev in April 2009, had left his post to head the
board of OAO Korporatsiya MIT, which develops nuclear missiles.
Russian military intelligence service, known by its Russian
acronym GRU, has agents spread across the globe.
Created in 1918 under revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky, it
answers to the chief of the general staff, one of the three
people who control Russia's portable nuclear briefcase.
Shlyakhturov's predecessor, General Valentin Korabelnikov,
was seen to have been dismissed for opposing Kremlin-backed
military reforms. But Shlyakhturov is viewed as an ally of
Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who has cut the number of
servicemen and reorganised the armed forces command.
Unlike the Soviet-era KGB secret police, GRU was not split
up when the Soviet Union collapsed although the organisation has
lost turf wars with the KGB's main successor, the FSB, over
recent years, according to local media.
Russia's most powerful man, Vladimir Putin, served as a KGB
spy in East Germany in the 1980s and later became director of
the FSB. In 2006 he visited the new Moscow headquarters of GRU,
where he was shown shooting a pistol on a firing range.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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