Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has finally accepted Russia's new ambassador to Ukraine, a Russian business daily reported on Thursday.

According to Kommersant the decision is due to be announced in the next few days.

Russia's parliament confirmed in late June Mikhail Zurabov, a former health minister, as the country's ambassador to Ukraine.

The paper said, however, Moscow had considered dispatching the new envoy to Kiev after the January presidential elections, in the hope that there would be a new government to deal with.

Zurabov served as health and social development minister in 2004-2007 and later as a presidential aide. He came under fire in 2005 for reforms to state medical care and transportation benefits, which triggered nationwide protests.

Russia's previous envoy to Ukraine, 70-year-old former premier Viktor Chernomyrdin, was dismissed in early June after eight years in the post, where he witnessed a dramatic deterioration in relations between the former Soviet allies.

Chernomyrdin came under threat of expulsion in February over what Ukrainian authorities said were "undiplomatic" statements critical of Kiev's policies.

Ties between Russia and Ukraine have been strained in recent years, as Ukraine's pro-Western leaders have sought to join NATO and the European Union. Moscow and Kiev have also been embroiled in bitter disputes over natural gas supplies.
Source: Ria Novosti

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