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"Corrupt and brutal" General Sergei Surovikin, infamous for shooting Moscow protesters in 1991, has been appointed to lead the battle-weary Russian Army in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin installed the 55-year-old yesterday, October 9, to head the ongoing "special military operation" and shift the balance as an ongoing counter offensive from Ukraine looks to be succeeding.
His appointment is the first of an overall battlefield commander for Russian troops in Ukraine, according to The Guardian.
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“For over 30 years, Surovikin’s career has been dogged with allegations of corruption and brutality,” wrote British intelligence officials recently, in a report about his likely succession to the position.
He has held power since the Soviet Union days, and is infamous for having killed three peaceful protestors by leading an armoured column in Moscow which ran them down during the attempted coup of 1991.
“It is highly symbolic that Sergei Surovikin, the only officer who ordered to shoot on revolutionaries in August 1991 and actually killed three people, is now in charge of this last-ditch effort to restore Soviet Union,” wrote Grigory Yudin, a Russian political scientist and sociologist.
“These people knew what they were doing, and they know now.”
He was given a new role of General to the Army last year, and was also head of Russia's forces in Syria for a short while in 2017.
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There, he faced allegations of using “controversial” tactics including indiscriminate bombing against anti-government fighters.
In February, he was added to the EU's sanctions list for being “responsible for actively supporting and implementing actions and policies that undermine and threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine as well as the stability or security in Ukraine.”
He is revered in his home country, where he was awarded the Hero of the Russian Federation in December 2017.
The veteran commander has also previously served in Tajikistan and Chechnya.
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