One of Russian President Vladimir Putin's oldest political allies appears set to leave his post as head of Russian Railways, the country's largest employer.
Vladimir Yakunin has headed the state railway monopoly for a decade, but has been announced as a candidate for senator in Russia's upper house of parliament, which would appear to mean a substantial loss of influence.
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The move is a surprise, given that the 67-year-old Yakunin reportedly received a three-year contract extension at Russian Railways last year.
In a farewell message to Russian Railways staff published by Russian agency Tass, Yakunin says "the country's leadership" will decide his future.
In televised comments Tuesday, Putin says he will meet Yakunin to discuss his possible departure, but that any change would be "his decision."