19:28 GMT +317 March 2018
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    BRUSSELS, MARCH 1 (RIA Novosti correspondent Alexander Shishlo) - Mikhail Fradkov's prime-ministerial nomination was quite unexpected to European political experts.

    "It was a thunderbolt to my colleagues and me - the name was even out of our nominee list," says Professor Kathleen Malfleyt of the Catholic University of Louvain, leading Belgian expert on Russia.

    Fradkov's nomination is certainly good for Russian contacts with the European Union - especially considering a vast experience of negotiating with partners in Brussels, which he acquired as Russian ambassador to the EU, she said in a telephone talk to Novosti.

    The last few weeks drew in a wedge between Russia and the European Union over the impact of EU expansion on that country, and Professor Malfleyt is sure Mr. Fradkov will do much as go-between to cure the matter. Russia has refused to spread its agreement on partnership with the EU on its ten new member countries, and our interviewee thinks he is fully aware of a dire impact this refusal may have on bilateral relations.

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