Putin fires Russia’s defense minister, paralyzing the army
Viktor Zubkov was the friend Russian President Vladimir Putin turned to when he wanted help blowing out his birthday candles 12 years ago.
At the time, Zubkov was an obscure tax man but had already forged the close relationship with Putin on which the political career of Russia’s defence minister may have foundered this week in a tale of alleged corruption, adultery and Kremlin rivalries.
By 2007, Zubkov had become prime minister and rising with him was Anatoly Serdyukov, whose appointment as defence minister the same year cannot have been hindered by his marriage to Zubkov’s only daughter Yulia.
Serdyukov, now 50, appears, however, to have made a politically fatal error by falling out with his patron after his marriage hit the rocks.
It was Serdyukov who, according to some Russian media, opened the door to police in his bathrobe and slippers when they launched an early-morning raid last month on the apartment of his 33-year-old female neighbour, one of his former employees.