Mikhail Yuryevich Zurabov (Russian: Михаил Юрьевич Зурабов, pronounced [mʲixaˈil zuˈrabəf]) is the current ambassador of Russia to Ukraine and Russia's former Minister of Health and Social Development (in Mikhail Fradkov's First Cabinet and Mikhail Fradkov's Second Cabinet). He held the post of Minister of Health and Social Development from 9 March 2004 to 24 September 2007. On 13 August 2009 Zurabov was appointed ambassador of Russia to Ukraine, however on 11 August 2009 Russian President Medvedev postponed the sending of a new Russian ambassador to Ukraine "in view of the anti-Russian position of the current Ukrainian authorities". Zurabov presented his diplomatic credentials to (newly elected) Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych on 2 March 2010.
Zurabov was born on 3 October 1953. He completed his undergraduate degree at the State University of Management in Moscow, and his masters degree at the All Union Scientific Research Institute for System Research. He held the position of Chairman of the Russian Pension Fund Administration from 1999 to 2004.
In early 2005, Zurabov, Gref, and Kudrin all came under fire for reforms to benefits for the elderly that they suggested and the State Duma had approved in 2004. Many of the reforms had to do with replacing free government-funded benefits, such as medical care and transportation, with cash payments. This replacement angered many of the elderly because transportation costs are increasing. Protests took place all over Russia, but neither the presidential administration nor the State Duma responded to these protests in any substantial way. The President reprimanded Kudrin on national television, and a few members of the State Duma went on a hunger strike for a short period of time. A no-confidence vote against Fradkov's cabinet was called by the State Duma in early February, but it failed. Some analysts saw the whole affair as an attempt to either discredit or perhaps get rid of one of the three men by other members of the cabinet.[who?]
For a while it was believed that Zurabov, specifically, was being set up to take the fall for the failure of the Pension Reform that Mikhail Fradkov's Second Cabinet instituted in early 2005. However, Zurabov retained his post, and continued to serve as the Minister of Health and Social Development until he was dismissed in 2007.
Zurabov is also accused of failing to provide medicine to the pensioners and handicapped.[who?]
In an interview with Izvestiya v Ukraine in June 2010 Zurabov, as an ambassador to Ukraine, asserted that Russians and Ukrainians are a single nation with "some nuances, peculiarities, but a single nation". Zurabov allowed himself to announce the Ukrainian anthem "Ukraine has not perished" as a Russian folk song that was to be performed by the Cossack choir during the Russian Independence day on June 8, 2012. The Ukrainian officials that were invited, however, continued to munch on their food without expressing any protests.
References and Footnotes
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- Dmitry Medvedev signed the Executive Order appointing Mikhail Zurabov Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Ukraine., Kremlin.ru (13 August 2009)
- Succeeding Viktor Chernomyrdin who was relieved Chernomyrdin as Russian Ambassador in Kiev on 11 June 2009.
- Address to the President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko, Kremlin.ru (11 August 2009)
- See also: Russian-Ukrainian relations.
- Russian ambassador to Ukraine presents credentials to Yanukovych, RIA Novosti (2 March 2010)
- Yanukovych: Ukraine will do whatever it takes to restore relations with Russia, Kyiv Post (2 March 2010)
- Russian Ambassador Zurabov presents credentials to President Yanukovych, Kyiv Post (2 March 2010)
- Zurabov asserts that Russians and Ukrainians are single nation, unian.net (15 June 2010)
- (video) Сергей Соболев: «Как посол России «опустил» Украину?» (Serhiy Sobolev: How the ambassador of Russia dishonored Ukraine) Glavkom.tv June 8, 2012
- The Russian ambassador called the Ukrainian anthem a Russian folk song Rupor.info June 8, 2012