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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ayatskov Tipped for Belarus

Outgoing Saratov Governor Dmitry Ayatskov may be named Russia's next ambassador to Belarus or receive a senior post in the Russia-Belarus Union, the nascent federal agency working to unify the two countries, news agencies reported Monday.

Pavel Borodin, secretary of the Russia-Belarus Union, said he was ready to work with Ayatskov should President Vladimir Putin decide to send him to head Russia's diplomatic mission in Minsk.

Borodin, however, dismissed reports that Ayatskov may succeed him, Interfax reported.

Ayatskov said last week that he had been offered a job in which he would work on speeding up the process of unifying Russia and Belarus into a union state, but he did not identify the post.

Ayatskov, Saratov's governor since 1996, recently lost his job when Putin named a new governor under a Kremlin-drafted law that took effect Jan. 1. He was the first governor to be ousted under the law.

Saratov's legislature unanimously approved his replacement, former nuclear power station manager Pavel Ipatov, earlier this month.

Ayatskov will remain in office until April 2, when his term officially expires.

Ayatskov's spokesman Roman Chuichenko could not be reached for comment about the governor's plans Monday. A Kremlin spokeswoman said she had no information about whether Putin has appointed Ayatskov to a new post.