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INTERNATIONAL > Europe & Eurasia

Putin picks Japan-hand diplomat as his chief of staff

Russian President Vladmir Putin replaced Sergei Ivanov, chief of the Presidential Executive Office, with Anton Vaino, a 44-year-old Foreign Ministry official who is knowledgeable about Japan, in mid-August.

 

According to a Russian media outlet, Vaino was born in Estonia, a former Soviet republic. His grandfather was first secretary of the Estonian communist party. He spent several years in Tokyo as a child after his father was transferred to the office of Soviet Union trade representatives in Tokyo. He studied Japanese at Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), which has produced numerous diplomats. From 1996 to 2001, he was posted to the Russian Embassy in Japan. 

 

“He has a good command of Japanese and is a polite and diligent person,” said a Japanese diplomat who negotiated with Vaino in making preparations for summit talks between Japan and Russia.

 

Vaino was appointed as a deputy chief of staff at the presidential office in 2012, but was assigned to the protocol section and not directly involved in policymaking on Japan affairs, according to a source.

 

With Abe and Putin deepening their ties, arrangements are underway for realizing a visit to Japan by Putin by the end of the year. Attention will be focused on how Vaino will perform his role as the successor to Ivanov, who had been hard on Japan. (Abridged)

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