Russia set to okay ex-health min as Ukraine envoy

14:11, 24 June 2009
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The appointment is...

Russia`s parliament on Thursday was likely to approve former health minister Mikhail Zurabov as ambassador to Ukraine, local news agencies reported, according to Reuters.

Zurabov will replace Viktor Chernomyrdin who was dismissed this month after 8 years as ambassador.

The appointment is being closely watched after tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated this winter when a gas dispute disrupted gas supplies to European customers for nearly two weeks.

"I am sure that the members will soon give their agreement to the appointment of ... Zurabov," Interfax news agency quoted the head of the committee for Commonwealth of Independent States affairs in the lower house of parliament as saying.

President Dmitry Medvedev still has to grant his approval after the committee`s decision.

Zurabov, 55, was sacked as a minister in September 2007 after a barrage of criticism for a shortage of free medicine and a botched reform of social benefits.

Chernomyrdin, who Ukraine tried to expel in February over criticism of its government, was dismissed by the Kremlin earlier this month.

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