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Putin officially fires top political aide Vladislav Surkov

In an order posted to the Kremlin’s official website, Russian President Vladimir Putin has freed political advisor Vladislav Surkov from his duties. The order is effective immediately.

Reports of the top Putin aide’s resignation had been circulating since late January thanks to Alexey Chesnakov, a political analyst close to Surkov who said the administration was looking for a “change of course on the Ukrainian side.” However, Surkov’s departure had not been officially confirmed until Putin’s order was issued.

Vladislav Surkov began working in Russia’s presidential administration in 1999, ultimately rising to the rank of first deputy chief of staff. Between 2011 and 2013, he worked in the prime minister’s administration as a vice premier.

In 2013, Surkov accompanied Putin back to the presidency, becoming a policy curator for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. On a de facto basis, his division also came to lead the president’s policy efforts in Ukraine’s breakaway eastern republics.