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Russia environment watchdog chief moves to sack outspoken deputy

MOSCOW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - The newly appointed head of Russia's environment watchdog, Vladimir Kirillov, has proposed firing his deputy Oleg Mitvol, a source in the federal service said.

Mitvol has overseen inspections of a series of leading Russian and foreign mining and hydrocarbon companies, and is known for radical moves such as ordering the demolition of cottages in a water-protection zone near Moscow.

"Head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources Vladimir Kirillov wrote a letter to Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev, requesting the dismissal of Oleg Mitvol," the source said.

Mitvol received a lot of publicity in 2005 following attacks on pop diva Alla Pugachyova and electricity monopoly chief Anatoly Chubais over their country estates, which he said had been built without planning permission, and over other high-profile investigations.

He also led environmental checks into Sakhalin II, which resulted in Gazprom acquiring control over the vast hydrocarbon project and elbowing its operator, Shell, into a minority position.