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Soviet General Put in Charge of Air Defense

July 03, 1987|Associated Press

MOSCOW — The general believed to be in charge in the Soviet Far East when a Korean airliner was shot down in 1983 is now the new chief of Soviet air defense forces, the Defense Ministry newspaper Red Star reported Thursday.

Gen. Ivan M. Tretyak replaces Chief Marshal Alexander I. Koldunov, who was fired after a West German teen-ager entered Soviet airspace in a Cessna on May 28 and flew unimpeded all the way to Red Square.

The unauthorized flight of Mathias Rust, 19, touched off a wide-ranging shake-up in Soviet military ranks, the replacement of the defense minister and harsh criticism from the ruling Politburo. The teen-ager, meanwhile, remains in Soviet custody.

Headed Far East District

Tretyak, 64, was named commander of the Far Eastern military district in May, 1976. Western military attaches in Moscow said Tretyak apparently was in that post when a Soviet fighter shot down a Korean Airlines jumbo jet that strayed into Soviet airspace.

All 269 people aboard the Boeing 747 were killed in the Sept. 1, 1983, incident, which provoked a storm of criticism worldwide. The Soviet Union maintained that the plane was on a spy mission and asserted its right to defend its airspace.

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