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Kremlin Media Adviser Sacked

President Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed influential Kremlin media adviser Mikhail Lesin for breaching government rules, the first such sacking during his presidency, local media reported Thursday.

The Kremlin announced the departure of Lesin — who founded Video International, the country's main television advertising company, in 1990, and later held senior posts in news, television and the government — on Tuesday in a terse statement, saying Lesin left "at his own request."

"At the present, I'm bound by certain obligations, according to which I cannot comment on the reasons for my resignation," Lesin told Interfax on Wednesday evening. "And I don't have the moral right to break those obligations."

But Interfax, citing a Kremlin source, reported that Lesin was sacked for using "his position to resolve questions not related to his official duties."

The official said Lesin, 51, had breached discipline and rules on state service.

Newspapers also ran stories Thursday that said Lesin, who looked after media, information technology and intellectual property issues in the Kremlin administration, was fired for conflicts of interest with his own businesses. Kommersant reported that he could have been a driving force in the National Media Group's creation of NMG-TV, a holding containing St. Petersburg's Channel 5 and Ren-TV.

Lesin was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

A Kremlin spokesman refused to comment on the reports. Kommersant said such harsh comments have rarely been made by senior Kremlin officials without the president's permission.

The reports described Lesin's departure as a decision made at Medvedev's initiative and said it was the first major Kremlin sacking of his presidency. Moskovsky Komsomolets said Medvedev made the decision without consulting his predecessor and mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Medvedev has repeatedly promised to fight official corruption, but businesspeople and investors say the situation has not improved since he took office a year and a half ago.

The Kremlin administration is the most powerful body in Russia, and its advisers wield enormous influence. Medvedev inherited all the top Kremlin officials from Putin and has not made many changes in the lineup until now.

Lesin was media minister from 1999 and took up his post in the Kremlin administration under Putin in April 2004, according to a bio on the Kremlin web site.

(Reuters, MT)

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