‘Gray cardinal’ and Putin confidant Surkov dismissed

Nobody knows what it means for now

President Putin has sent one of his closest advisers away. It is about Vladislav Surkov, who was seen as an important strategist and ideologist within the Kremlin. The reason for the dismissal was not disclosed.

Surkov’s departure had been in the air for a while. The relationship between him and Putin is said to have cooled recently. Last month there were reports that the 55-year-old Surek himself had resigned, but they were then contradicted by Putin’s spokesperson.

Surkov was, among other things, responsible for Russian contacts with neighboring Ukraine, where since 2014 there has been fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the government army. He would also have maintained ties with those rebels. Last week it became clear that the Kremlin had placed the Ukraine policy in the new hands.

Surkov has the image of a shadowy, but – behind the scenes – powerful figure. His supposed influence and years of experience in the Kremlin earned him the nickname ‘gray cardinal’.

“Although it was expected, it is still remarkable,” said correspondent David Jan Godfroid about the dismissal. “Surkov was a key figure and one of the few true confidants of Putin. What his departure means, for example with regard to Ukraine policy, is still difficult to predict.”

Soerkov was associated last year with the disaster of the flight MH17. The international investigation team (JIT) came to the conclusion that Surkov was assisting in the delivery of the Buk SAM that brought down the MH17. This would be apparent from, among other things, an intercepted telephone call from Surkov with a separatist leader in Eastern Ukraine.

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