MOSCOW Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reprimanded the head of the navy on Wednesday and sacked several senior navy officers for a major fire at a navy base outside Moscow.
A forest fire destroyed at least 13 hangars containing aviation equipment at a navy base outside Moscow last Thursday but news of the fire was released only on Tuesday.
"Despite the fact that we asked the Defense Ministry to help out with the extinguishing fires to help the civil population, in the majority of cases the ministry cannot protect itself," Medvedev told senior officials in the Kremlin.
Medvedev said Russian Navy Commander Vladimir Vysotsky had not done his job properly and ordered the sacking of several senior officers including the navy's head of aviation, the head of logistics and the head of the base itself.
He did not sack the Admiral Vysotsky himself, though he said the commanders of the Kolomna base -- 100 km (60 miles) southeast of Moscow -- were absent when the fire occurred.
"It is unclear where they were," Medvedev said.
(Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk, writing by Guy Faulconbridge)