Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed Viktor Chernomyrdin as ambassador to Ukraine and appointed him presidential adviser and special envoy on economic cooperation with CIS countries, the Kremlin said Thursday, RIA Novosti reported.

Speaking at an embassy reception in honor of Russia Day, Chernomyrdin formally announced that his stint in Ukraine was over.

"My presence is Ukraine has come to an end... Thank you for everything," he said.

Appointed to the post in 2001, Chernomyrdin has often been seen as a controversial figure in the former Soviet republic.

In February, Ukraine warned Chernomyrdin that he could be expelled from the country over "unfriendly and extremely undiplomatic assessments, comments and statements regarding Ukraine and its leadership."

Chernomyrdin, formerly a longtime Gazprom chief, is known to have criticized Ukraine in its bitter gas dispute with Russia in January which led to a cutoff in supplies to the EU as Moscow accused Kiev of tapping Europe-bound transit gas.

In a January interview with Russia`s Vesti TV channel, in particular, he described the situation with gas transits as "nonsense" and "buffoonery," and said that "everything proceeds from Ukraine`s leadership."

Relations between the two former Soviet neighbors have been strained over a host of issues, including energy prices and Ukraine`s pro-Western policies.

President meets Minister for Environmental Protection

President Victor Yushchenko held a meeting with Minister for Environmental Protection Heorhii Philipchuk, First Deputy Prosecutor General Tetyana Kornyakova and Security Service Head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko.

At the meeting sides have discussed use of natural resources deposits, problems of legal basis regulating the sphere and prevention of abuse in management of natural resources extraction, the situation at NJSC ‘Nadra Ukrayny’ (major state company that processes state orders for extraction of mineral resources), etc.

RIA Novosti