MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday sacked Vladislav Surkov, one of his chief advisers and the architect of Russia's Ukraine policy who was viewed among the country's most powerful men.
The dismissal of the 55-year-old Surkin was announced on the Kremlin website but there was no indication of what his new job would be.
In recent years, Surkov was in charge of the Kremlin's Ukraine policy and cultivated close ties with the separatists who have carved out "people's republics" in the ex-Soviet country's eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
He was replaced earlier this month as the Kremlin's chief ideologue and pointman on relations with Ukraine and Moscow-backed separatists by Dmitry Kozak, a 61-year-old veteran official and a close ally of Putin.
As first deputy head of the Kremlin administration, Surkov helped transform Russian parliament into a rubber stamp, muzzle media and neuter the opposition.
The secretive strategist oversaw political parties in parliament and electoral campaigns that invariably handed victory to Putin.
Surkov saw his influence wane after he was moved to the government in a reshuffle in 2011 and served two years in the rank of deputy prime minister.
In 2013, he returned to the Kremlin where he served as Putin's advisor in charge of Russia's ties with Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries.
He found himself back in the spotlight when Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and supported Russian-speaking separatists in Ukraine's industrial east.
Separatists openly admitted that Surkov advised the leadership of the breakaway statelets.