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Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday unexpectedly dismissed his close ally and powerful chief of staff Sergei Ivanov, in the highest-level change inside the Kremlin in several years.Ivanov, who served together with Putin in the Soviet-era KGB spy agency, was replaced by his deputy Anton Vaino.Ivanov, a reputed hawk who served as defense minister from 2001 to 2007, was appointed Kremlin chief of staff in late 2011, months ahead of Putin's 2012 re-election.Many observers had considered Ivanov a leading candidate to take over from Putin as president when his second term ended in 2008 .Putin is widely expected to run again for a new term.
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