Vladislav Surkov, a Russian figure who is believed to have designed Russia’s anti-Western foreign policy course and contributed to reducing democracy, will now advise Russian President Vladimir Putin on relations with Ukraine, a Russian newspaper reported.
The appointment has been essentially agreed upon and will be officially announced after Putin signs a decree, Gazeta.ru reported citing people familiar with developments.
Surkov “has a notorious image in our country,” Boris Nemtsov, a co-leader of the Russian opposition party RPR-Parnas, said in an interview with Inter television on Sunday.
“This is a man who strangled freedom of speech, who oversaw the Nashisty movement of pro-Putin activists that organized provocations.”
“This man also was in charge of rigged elections, who had been seeking to manipulate public mood,” Nemtsov said.
“Surkov has such a grim aura,” Nemtsov said.
"I do not think the appointment of Surkov could lead to an improvement of Russian-Ukrainian relations. I am absolutely confident about it.”
The developments come as top Russian officials have warned Ukraine that Moscow would effectively suspend imports of Ukrainian goods if Kiev signs the agreements with Brussels at a summit in November.
President Viktor Yanukovych said earlier this month that Ukraine should continue its pro-European course and sign the agreements.
Prime Minister Mykola Azarov also said Ukraine will continue its pro-European course, but said the government will also try to maintain cooperation with Russia.
Azarov held talks with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev in August trying to combine pro-European course and cooperation with Russia, but failed.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov later it was “pointless” to continue the talks, a sign that Ukraine should preparing for trade complications later this year.
The government and Ukrainian businesses were already taking steps to make sure that Ukraine avoids major trade problems with Russia, Azarov said without elaborating.
The worries over the possible trade war between Ukraine and Russia rose after Putin said recently that Russia will resort to sweeping restrictions against Ukrainian goods if Kiev signs a free trade and political association agreements with the European Union.
The protectionist rhetoric came only days after Russia had lifted its heavy restrictions imposed against Ukrainian goods previously.
The European Union called it “unacceptable” for Russia to economically threaten Ukraine, linking the threat with a possible signature of the association agreement with the EU.
Source: Ukrainian Journal