Putin Appoints EU-Blacklisted Official as Spy Chief
Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Sergey Naryshkin, until now speaker of Parliament's lower house, as head of foreign intelligence service (SVR).
Naryshkin, considered to be close to the current head of state, headed the Russian President's administration between 2008 and 2011 (under Dmitry Medvedev) before being elected Parliament Speaker after gaining a seat in the State Duma.
He has also been blacklised by the EU and the US, which issued a travel ban on him and other officials in 2014 over the Ukraine crisis. Naryshkin was to visit Bulgaria in the summer of the same year (something that Moscow denied), but was forced to cancel his trip, arriving only in neighboring (and non-EU) Serbia instead.
Naryshkin is taking over the SVR from Mikhail Fradkov, whose career includes a Prime Ministerial position from 2004 to 2007 and who will now be appointed head of the administrative board of the Russian state railways.
A new Parliament Speaker has not been formally announced, but several media outlets have singled out Vyacheslav Volodin, the deputy head of Putin's administration (who also falls under EU and US sanctions).
Russian daily Kommersant, which reported the reshuffle was upcoming before it had been officially announced, quoted experts as saying Naryshkin's appointment is by no means a reduction in rank, given the external challenges currently posed to the country.
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