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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: December 1, 2014
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
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High-ranking Russian officials working for Vladislav Surkov in the presidential administration who were responsible for the self-proclaimed "People's Republics" of Donetsk and Lugansk (DPR and LPR) in eastern Ukraine have resigned, Vedomosti reports.

Surkov is often described as the Kremlin's "grey cardinal," in charge of some of the most sensitive foreign and domestic political matters for President Vladimir Putin. Surkov was assigned to deal with Abkhazia and South Ossetia when he was returned to the Kremlin after a period in exile, although it is widely believed that he has been involved in negotiations on Ukraine as well.

A source in the presidential administration and another source close to the administration have reported the recent personnel changes to Vedomosti.

Boris Rapoport, a deputy to Surkov in the Department for Social and Economic Cooperation with the countries of the CIS, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, is said to have resigned of his own volition. He was responsible for work with the DPR and LPR. Earlier, Vladimir Avdeyenko, who was head of a department and said to be responsible for economic relations with the DPR and LPR, had also resigned.

Rapoport's resignation went into effect today, December 1. A source said that two weeks ago, Rapoport said he would "have more free time," and speculated that the workload was too great for both officials. "The situation is complex, and at the present time, there simply doesn't exist an iron-clad plan to get out of the crisis, working under such conditions is not easy," said a source.

Oleg Govorun, head of the division, remains at his position, but aside from Rapoport and Avdeyenko, five or six other staff members have quit the division, sources said. "It's not clear who in Surkov's office is working on Ukraine in general now," said a source.

Rapoport had no comment for Vedomosti and Avdeyenko said the information that he was responsible for economic issues was "inaccurate." He also refused to confirm that he had worked in the administration.

"Surkov did not answer the telephone," said Vedomosti.

Rapoport was in his job for exactly a year, and had come at Govorun's invitation to the Kremlin from the White House [government], where he had worked on the "Open Government" program. He had previously worked with Govorun when he was minister of regional development.

The vacancy may be filled by Igor Udovichenko, who in 2011 served as deputy head of the division on domestic policy. Most recently, he was chairman of the board of directors of the company Rosvodokanal from July 2013 to May 2014.

The division headed by Surkov to deal with the two breakaway republics after the invasion of Georgia, which has also taken on other neighbors was created by Putin in June 2012 to "implement social and economic projects in the CIS countries, form effective institutions of civil society, create modern financial and pension infrastructure and also a social security system."

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick