President Vladimir Putin has unexpectedly dismissed his chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, the Kremlin has announced.
Sergei Ivanov, 63, has been part of the Russian president’s trusted inner circle for many years.
He has now been made a special representative for environmental and transport issues.
A statement from the Kremlin said that President Putin had “decreed to relieve Ivanov of his duties as head of the Russian presidential administration”, but gave no reason.
Sergei Ivanov’s deputy since 2012, Anton Vaino, has been appointed as his successor.
Anton Vaino, 44, is a former diplomat. Born in the Estonian capital Tallinn in 1972, he graduated from the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and served in the Tokyo embassy. Later he managed presidential protocol and government staff, the Kremlin website says.
On being appointed, Anton Vaino told Vladimir Putin: “Thank you for your trust. I think the administration’s most important task is to support your activity as head of state in terms of drafting laws and control over how your instructions are implemented.”
President Putin told a Russian TV station on August 12 that Sergei Ivanov had asked to leave the post, and recommended that Anton Vaino should replace him.
In remarks to Vladimir Putin, quoted on the Kremlin website, Sergei Ivanov said: “It’s true that in early 2012 I asked you, in a conversation, to entrust me with this very complicated post, even – you could say – troublesome post, for four years.
“Well, it turns out that I’ve been presidential chief of staff for four years and eight months.”
Sergei Ivanov took up the post in December 2011. He served previously as a deputy prime minister and defense minister.
He is a member of the Russian Security Council and a former member of the KGB state security service, like Vladimir Putin.
In the late 1990s, when Vladimir Putin was head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), which replaced the KGB, Sergei Ivanov was appointed as his deputy. When Vladimir Putin came to power, he named Sergei Ivanov as one of the five people he trusted most.
It was once thought that Sergei Ivanov might become president of Russia after Vladimir Putin’s second term, as a third term for Putin would have been unconstitutional.
However, that post was taken by another close Putin ally, Dmitry Medvedev.
Vladimir Putin became prime minister, before returning to the presidency just three-and-a-half years later.