Medvedev fires security officers after airport bombing

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has fired several FSB security service officers responsible for security failures that led to last month's deadly airport attack, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

"The head of the Federal Security Service gave (Medvedev) a list of employees responsible for miscalculations in their work, who were fired for inadequately carrying out their responsibilities," Kremlin spokeswoman Natalia Timakova was quoted by the ITAR-TASS agency as saying.

If the investigation shows that more security service employees were at fault, "they, too, will be punished," she said.

The Kremlin did not reveal the names of the dismissed official or specify how many had been sacked.

In statement, the FSB said only that "several high-ranking officers have been called to account" over the Domodedovo blast.

Among those sacked were two officials in the transportation department of the economic security service within the FSB. The head of the transportation department Sergei Chernyshev received a warning, and his first deputy received a "stern reprimand", the statement said.

The dismissals come after the FSB became the target of blame in the press for failing to prevent the suicide bombing on January 24, which killed 36 people.

But a security expert said the dismissed officers were mere scapegoats, since the transportation department does not deal with terrorism but with economic crimes in the transportation sphere.

"They found a department in the FSB that has the word 'transport' in it," Andrei Soldatov told AFP, "when in fact there is a large department that deals specifically with counter-terrorism."

The FSB, which handles domestic intelligence and grew out of the Soviet KGB, was once headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and has avoided government blame for the recent suicide bombings in Moscow and other deadly attacks.

Its head Alexander Bortnikov has been in charge of the agency since May 2008, with his position also not shaken by a two suicide bombings killed 40 people on the Moscow metro last March.

Medvedev has so far focused the blame for last month's attack on mid-ranking police officials and the management of Domodedovo airport.

In another dismissal, Putin on Tuesday sacked Gennady Kurzenkov, who headed the transportation ministry's watchdog Rostransnadzor, the government said in a statement.

© 2011 AFP

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