MOSCOW (AP) _ President Boris Yeltsin dismissed the head of the general staff of the Russian armed forces on Friday, immediately replacing him with another top general.

Yeltsin relieved Gen. Mikhail Kolesnikov of his duties and suggested that leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States appoint him head of their staff for coordinating military cooperation, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

His successor, Gen. Viktor Samsonov, has served since 1993 at the same Commonwealth post that Yeltsin now wants Kolesnikov to take.

Samsonov headed the Soviet and then Russian general staff in 1991-1992 before surrendering the job to Kolesnikov.

The dismissal does not appear to have been politically motivated; Kolesnikov, 57, long has been rumored to be on his way out.

After the ouster of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev in June, Kolesnikov served as acting defense minister until Igor Rodionov was appointed in July.

Kolesnikov also held the title of first deputy defense minister, which Yeltsin gave to Samsonov in Friday's decree.