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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
Russia's chief prosecutor sacked
Russian prosecutor-general, Vladimir Ustinov, before his dismissal
Reports say Mr Ustinov's dismissal surprised his colleagues
The upper house of Russia's parliament has voted to dismiss the country's prosecutor-general, Vladimir Ustinov.

A spokesman for the chamber, the Federation Council, said he was removed from his post following a request from the presidential administration.

Mr Ustinov had been prosecutor-general since 1999 and led the case against the Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a critic of President Vladimir Putin.

Mr Ustinov's deputy Yuri Biryukov has been named to replace him temporarily.

Mr Ustinov's dismissal follows recent criticism by President Vladimir Putin that Russia was failing to tackle corruption. But the Kremlin has not yet explained its decision to dismiss him.

Russia's Interfax news agency says the Kremlin's special envoy to southern Russia, Dmitri Kozak, is tipped to become the new prosecutor-general.

Lawmakers in the Federation Council voted by 142 to none to remove Mr Ustinov. Two abstained.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg in Moscow says critics had accused Mr Ustinov of persecuting the Kremlin's opponents.

Perhaps more than anything, he will be remembered as the man who led the legal attack on the oil giant Yukos and its former owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, our correspondent says.

The case led to much of Yukos being sold off and swallowed up by the state and Mr Khodorkovsky serving an eight-year prison sentence.

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