The gray cardinal. Putin’s Rasputin. The Kremlin puppet master. Vladislav Surkov, a close advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has achieved near-mythical status over the years as the self-proclaimed author of the Putin system, which flirts with democratic principles to cloak its increasing authoritarianism. But on Tuesday he was summarily sacked in the latest of a series of political shake-ups as the Kremlin prepares for what to do when Putin’s term limit expires in 2024.
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