MOSCOW, July 28./TASS/. Russia will shortly appoint a new ambassador to Ukraine after Mikhail Zurabov was relieved of his duties on Thursday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.
"We expect that a new Russian ambassador to Ukraine will be appointed shortly," Peskov said. Explaining the reason behind the sacking of Zurabov, Peskov said he had led the Russian diplomatic mission in Ukraine for about seven years and "it is a rather lengthy period for an ambassador."
Peskov said that Zurabov had earlier asked to relieve him of his duties.
"Therefore, I would underscore that over six years is a quite lengthy period in office, Zurabov did express these wishes," he said.
The spokesman said President Putin gave high marks to Zurabov’s work as ambassador. "Difficult and unprecedented events occurred during his work, in particular from the point of view of bilateral relations. Without doubt, it was a difficult mission," Peskov said.
A profile committee of Russia’s State Duma is unlikely to hold a hearing confirming a candidate as the new ambassador to Ukraine until parliamentary elections are held and the upcoming 7th assembly of the lower house is formed, not earlier than October, Chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Ties with Compatriots Leonid Slutsky said.
"By today a list of candidates for the post of ambassador to Ukraine has not been registered with the committee," Slutsky said, noting that "given a candidate is to be put forward in the foreseeable future, the assembly of the committee’s extraordinary meeting will hardly be necessary."
"Therefore, the issue would possibly be postponed until autumn when the newly-elected Duma begins work and its committees and the house’s Council are formed," the lawmaker said.
The Russian president suggests candidates for ambassador posts to Duma and the Federation Council, the upper house, after confirmation from the receiving country. Profile committees of the Russian parliament’s both houses approve the appointee and then the president issues a decree on the candidate’s appointment to the ambassadorial position.
Slutsky refrained from commenting on Putin’s decision to dismiss Zurabov, saying that Thursday "was an eventful day in staff reorganization."
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin had signed a decree relieving Mikhail Zurabov of his duties as Russia’s Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Ukraine, the Kremlin press service said.