Russia’s ambassador to Washington Sergei Kislyak, a key figure in ongoing US investigations into Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, ended his tenure on Saturday.
The Russian embassy in Washington said on its Twitter feed that Minister-Counseler and Deputy Chief of Mission Denis V. Gonchar would serve as Charge d’Affaires until Kislyak’s successor arrived.
Kislyak, who held the post since 2008, is expected to be replaced by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Antonov.
Antonov’s nomination for the post, which has yet to be approved by the Kremlin, comes at a time of intense scrutiny over Moscow-Washington relations following US allegations that Russia meddled in the US election last year.
Kislyak’s name has emerged in relation to several of Trump’s associates as a special counsel and congressional panels investigate Russian meddling and possible ties with the Trump campaign.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported Kislyak was overheard by US spy agencies telling his bosses he had discussed campaign-related matters, including issues important to Moscow, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race.
As Attorney General, Sessions recused himself in March from matters connected to an investigation by the FBI following his admission he had talked to the Russian envoy.
Sessions has denied discussing campaign issues with Russian officials and has said he only met Kislyak in his role of US senator.