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A Russian commanding officer responsible for the well being
A Russian commanding officer responsible for the well being of one of Russia's brightest hockey stars, who tragically died in October, said on Thursday he had been fired from the Armed Forces for talking to the press.

However, an aide to the railway troop's commander said, Col. Oleg Alborov was relieved of his duties on December 18 for failing his performance review.

"Alborov did not pass his performance review in 2008. The Omsk Railroad Troops Brigade that he commanded for the past six months had dropped from first to nearly last place in the Urals military units ranking," Col. Vladimir Karpenko said.

Alborov commanded the Omsk unit in which 19-year-old Alexei Cherepanov served. Cherepanov, considered one of Russia's most promising hockey stars, collapsed and later died on October 13 after playing for the Omsk Avangard club at a match in the Moscow Region.

Regional prosecutors in the Moscow Region said in early December that a hockey club director, who has already been sacked, and an ice arena manger had failed to coordinate emergency medical services before the game.

Karpenko also said that Alborov had ignored regulations on the playing of sport by enlisted personnel at professional level and that Cherepanov's contract had been incorrectly drawn up.

However, Alborov told journalists in October that he was handed Cherepanov's contract after being in command of the brigade for just 10 days. "My superiors told me that the document had been drawn up correctly," he said at the time.

Several Russian officers have since received reprimands for allowing enlisted personnel to play for the Avangard hockey club. All have requested that they be relieved of their duties.

Alborov has said repeatedly that he is not guilty and has refused to sign a letter of resignation.

Nicknamed the Siberian Express, Cherepanov was born in Russia's Altai Territory, in the city of Barnaul in 1989. He had played two seasons as a professional, beating in March 2007 the Russian league goal-scoring record for rookies previously held by the legendary Pavel Bure.

He was expected to follow in Bure's footsteps and move to the National Hockey League, having been the New York Rangers' first-round pick in the 2007 NHL draft.

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