Moscow and Kiev could be plunged into a new diplomatic row with Ukraine's presidential administration insisting the new Russian ambassador's credentials should not be accepted, a Russian daily said on Friday, RIA Novosti reported.
Kommersant reported that Mikhail Zurabov's documents do not contain the name of the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko.
President Dmitry Medvedev has accused Yushchenko of pursuing "intentionally anti-Russian policies," and although Zurabov was appointed last August he remained in Russia in protest.
However, after the first round of the presidential elections in the country, which Yushchenko lost with slightly over 5% of the vote, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Zurabov to formally assume office in Kiev. The envoy was expected to arrive in the Ukrainian capital next week.
Ukraine's administration said the absence of the president's name in Zurabov's documents is a "violation of all diplomatic norms" and an attempt "to humiliate" Yuschehnko, who is still president, Kommersant reported.
A deputy head of the presidential administration, Andriy Honcharuk, told the paper he "hopes Moscow will observe the rules." Another administration official said "otherwise we will insist the Foreign Ministry not accept the credentials," the paper reported.
If the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry follows the presidential administration's wishes, the Kremlin will either have to delay Zurabov's dispatch again or send him as a presidential envoy on trade and business ties, the daily said.
Medvedev gave Zurabov the additional powers on Tuesday when he announced that the ambassador would finally take up his post in Kiev.
Zurabov, a former health minister, can start performing his ambassadorial duties after the Foreign Ministry accepts his credentials, but will only become fully legitimate once he presents his credentials to the president.
An unidentified Russian diplomat told the daily that Moscow's decision was totally pragmatic. A ceremony to hand over the papers to the president normally takes place months after an ambassador's visit to the Foreign Ministry, and by that time a new president will be in office.
Ukrainians will choose between opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in a runoff election on February 7. Both candidates have vowed to improve relations with Russia.
The diplomat also said there are no strict rules obliging countries to indicate the president in their ambassadors' credentials.
Russia's Foreign Ministry denied official comments on the issue on Thursday, Kommersant said.
Ties between the two ex-Soviet neighbors have been strained under Yushchnko over a host of issues, including gas pricing disputes, the pro-Western leader's drive to secure NATO and EU membership for Ukraine, Kiev's support for Tbilisi during and since the brief August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.
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