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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rybkin Named as Envoy to CIS

President Boris Yeltsin made former Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Rybkin his personal envoy to the former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States on Thursday, a Kremlin spokesman said.

Rybkin will have a rank equivalent to that of deputy prime minister, the Kremlin said. Rybkin previously oversaw CIS affairs in the old government. The CIS ministry was merged with the Foreign Ministry during a government reshuffle last month.

Rybkin, 51, a close Yeltsin ally, won prominence as Moscow's chief negotiator with the rebel region of Chechnya, which claims independence from Moscow after a 21-month war in 1994-96.

Rybkin is also known as a firm supporter of a closer alliance between the Slavic states of Russia and Belarus signed last year.

Leaders of virtually all 11 former Soviet republics that form the CIS together with Russia have complained that the Moscow-dominated grouping, set up to ensure a civilized divorce between parts of the former communist superpower, has failed to turn into an effective coordinating body for interstate cooperation.