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Former Army Chief Appointed Defense Minister's Adviser

Nikolai Makarov, former head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, has been appointed adviser to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, a senior ministry official told RIA-Novosti on Monday.

After 29 years of service in the Russian military, Makarov was appointed Chief of the General Staff in 2008, serving under then-Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.

Often referred to as "Serdyukov's right hand," Makarov was dismissed on Nov. 9 amid a major shake-up that saw Serdyukov sacked from his position by President Vladimir Putin in the wake of a corruption scandal that cost the state budget an estimated 3 billion rubles ($97 million).

Makarov, who was quite vocal about military reforms during his tenure, was widely criticized as head of the General Staff for making what many saw as excessive budget cuts and calling Russian-made tanks "insufficient."

Experts say the appointment may represent an attempt to preserve some of the military reforms started in 2008 under Serdyukov, many of which have been phased out since Shoigu took over.

In March 2012, Makarov received the title Hero of the Russian Federation for his role in Russian military reform. The title is awarded by the president for services to the state and its people, and entitles the recipient to state benefits.

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