Russian president Vladimir Putin fired Sergei Ivanov, his chief of staff, and one of his closest allies, in the most high-profile power reshuffle at the Kremlin in years.
Mr Ivanov, 63, is the latest long-standing Putin ally to have been sidelined in what analysts described as Mr Putin’s attempt to bring in a new, younger entourage.
Kremlin’s press office issued Mr Putin’s order to “relieve Sergei Ivanov of his duties.” The stern statement was followed by footage of a meeting of Mr Putin, Mr Ivanov, and the new chief of staff, Anton Vayno.
Despite the appearance that Mr Ivanov had been forced out, Mr Putin said he was making the move at Mr Ivanov’s request because he had been too long in the job.
“I’m happy with how you handle tasks in your line of work,” said Mr Putin. “I remember well our agreement that you had asked me not to keep you as chief of the presidential administration for more than four years and that is why I understand your desire to choose another line of work.”
Mr Ivanov, a former KGB officer, defence minister, and deputy prime minister, has been seen as one of Mr Putin’s closest allies.
Mr Ivanov was considered a successor to Mr Putin before Mr Putin chose Dmitry Medvedev to run for president in 2008 when unable to stand himself due to term limits.
In a symbolic gesture, Mr Putin yesterday named Mr Ivanov a special envoy for transportation and environment, a stunning downgrade for the man who has been considered one of the most influential people in Russia.
In a subtle hint to the fact that his political career is over, Mr Ivanov thanked Mr Putin for his “high assessment of my work during the past 17 years.”
Mr Ivanov was also taken off the Security Council, Russia’s top security body which discusses matters of war and peace.
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