Spokesman denies St. Petersburg governor to be Kiev envoy

16:30, 16 June 2009
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Russian media mentioned Matviyenko...

There is no official information to confirm reports that St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko will be the next Russian ambassador to Ukraine, her press secretary said on Tuesday, RIA Novosti reported.

Alexander Korennikov told the Fontanka.ru online news site that no information had been received from any official source on a decision to appoint Matviyenko to the post.

"Newspapers can write anything," he said. "We do not comment on speculation and rumors."

Earlier this month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Ambassador Viktor Chernomyrdin, who had served as envoy to Ukraine since 2001, witnessing a dramatic worsening of relations between the two countries.

The 70-year-old former prime minister was appointed presidential envoy for economic cooperation with ex-Soviet republics.

Russian media mentioned Matviyenko, who served as ambassador to Greece in the 1990s and was a deputy prime minister for five years until 2003, among possible candidates for the post, along with Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.

Karasin oversees ties with Ukraine and is involved in difficult talks on the Russian Black Sea Fleet`s deployment in Ukraine`s Sevastopol.

An unidentified official in Moscow was reported to have said earlier this month that the appointment would not be a demotion for Karasin, calling the post "serious and prestigious."

Ties between the former Soviet neighbors have been strained in recent years, as Ukraine`s pro-Western leaders have sought to join NATO and the European Union out of Russia`s sphere of influence. Moscow and Kiev were also embroiled in bitter disputes over natural gas supplies.

In February, Ukraine`s authorities threatened to expel Chernomyrdin for what they said were "undiplomatic" statements critical of Kiev`s policies.

RIA Novosti

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