: Putin reshuffles top officials, merges Crimea with southern federal district
Politics18:27 Jul. 29, 2016
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Putin reshuffles top officials, merges Crimea with southern federal district

Russian ambassador to Ukraine among those revievel of duties

A major reshuffle among Russia's regional governors. President Putin has dismissed and replaced a number of top local administration representatives and federal agencies' heads over just a single day.

In addition, the Kremlin leader has merged the occupied Crimea into Russia's southern federal district. Earlier the region was treated by Russia as a separate federal district. The official version says the change will raise the efficiency of local governments. However, some experts believe the occupied peninsula is being stripped of its autonomous powers.

Mykhailo Pashkov, foreign policy expert: "Crimea is going to have more links with the southern federal region. In certain way, it is an attempt move aside from the previous officials. This is the change of a group of government managers."

Putin reassigned the acting governor of Sevastopol, Sergey Menyailo, as representative to the Siberian Federal District.

In a follow-up, Putin has dismissed Russian ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, who had been working in Kyiv for the last seven years and was one of the negotiators during the Minsk peace talks. Sergey Toropov was appointed acting ambassador, but Zurabov's likely successor is Mikhail Babich, current presidential envoy to the Volga federal district.

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