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02:35 GMT +3 hours28 December 2014
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Kiev formally accepts new Russian ambassador to Ukraine

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Kiev officially notified Moscow on Thursday that it had accepted Mikhail Zurabov as Russia's new ambassador to Ukraine, the press secretary at the Russian embassy in Ukraine said.

KIEV, August 6 (RIA Novosti) - Kiev officially notified Moscow on Thursday that it had accepted Mikhail Zurabov as Russia's new ambassador to Ukraine, the press secretary at the Russian embassy in Ukraine said.

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

"Today, Vsevolod Loskutov, Russia's charge d'affaires in Ukraine, was invited to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, where Ukrainian Acting Foreign Minister Volodymyr Handohiy presented a note stating Ukraine's approval of Mikhail Zurabov's appointment as the Russian ambassador to Ukraine," Oleg Grishin said.

Russian business daily Kommersant said earlier on Thursday, however, that 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.