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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Fires 'Radical' Aide

President Vladimir Putin has fired the head of a Kremlin department set up after Ukraine's Orange Revolution to improve relations between Russia and its neighbors.

Modest Kolerov has been removed from his post in the presidential administration's Department for Interregional and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and the CIS, the Kremlin said in a statement on its web site. He will be replaced by his deputy, Nikolai Tsvetkov.

A public relations veteran, Kolerov had led the department since it was created in early 2005 to defend the country's interests through so-called soft power tactics -- promoting Russian language, education and culture abroad.

Kommersant, citing a source in the presidential administration, reported Wednesday that Kolerov was fired because of his "excessive radicalism in relations with neighboring states, which ultimately brought no benefits."

"He organized a flurry of activities in the former Soviet Union, including in Georgia, Transdnestr and Estonia," the source said. "This did not lead, however, to any improvements in their relations with Russia."

Kolerov defended himself Wednesday in a telephone interview. "I was no more radical than the Estonians, the Ukrainians and the Georgians," he said.

He said he was leaving the presidential administration to take a senior position in Free Russia, a nongovernmental organization that he described as a Russian equivalent to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Freedom House.