(Christian Science Monitor) President Vladimir Putin has abruptly sacked his longtime aide and confidant, Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov, amid what appears to be a major reshuffling within the ranks of Russia's ruling elite.
A stilted account posted on the Kremlin website says Mr. Ivanov asked to retire, and requested that his trusted deputy, Anton Vaino, replace him. Even if wholly accurate, it does little to explain the timing of the announcement, which comes amid a worrisome security crisis in Crimea that is escalating tensions with Ukraine, and a widening purge within Russia's upper elites that is starting to look like a major changing of the guard. […]
"Over the past year we've seen systemic replacements within key agencies and regional elites. It's not just bosses being replaced by their deputies, but deep changes often accompanied by criminal charges," says Nikolai Petrov, a professor at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
"Charges of corruption can be quite accurate, but they tend to be mainly a way of settling political scores in this country," says Petrov. "The changes that are unfolding now are not ad hoc; it's a very well-planned campaign." […]
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