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Putin Replaces Agriculture Minister With Controversial Krasnodar Governor

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov and replaced him with the controversial veteran governor of the Krasnodar Krai, Aleksandr Tkachyov.

The Kremlin posted Putin's decree appointing Fyodorov as a presidential adviser on agricultural issues shortly after he informed Fyodorov of his decision in a televised meeting on April 22.

Fyodorov's successor, Tkachyov, had been governor of Krasnodar Krai in the North Caucasus region since 2000.

Rights activists have accused Tkachyov of racism over statements he has made about indigenous ethnic groups in the North Caucasus and illegal immigration in Russia.

In 2012, Tkachyov announced plans to deploy a paramilitary force of Cossacks in Krasnodar Krai as vigilantes to discourage migration by non-Slavic people.

He has also been accused of damaging the environment during preparations for 2014 Winter Olympics in the Krasnodar Krai resort city of Sochi.

One of his critics, Yevgeny Vitishko, is serving a three-year prison term for spray-painting a fence in a forest near Sochi to protest what he said was illegal construction of a residence for Tkachyov there.

Fyodorov had been agricultural minister since May 2012, when Putin began his third term.

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