Russia on Wednesday appointed a staunch supporter of Moscow's annexation of Crimea as its ambassador to the Cape Verde Islands, a move observers say shows her fall from the Kremlin's favour.
According to a decree from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Natalia Poklonskaya, 41, will head Russia's Embassy in Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking archipelago off the western coast of Africa with a population of around 550,000 people.
Poklonskaya became the Moscow-backed top "prosecutor" for Crimea following Russia's illegal takeover of the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
She gained a huge internet following, especially in Japan, where she became a popular character in anime and manga art. Her first news conference, where she appeared in a prosecutor's uniform and tie, hit over 1 million views on the YouTube platform. Her Japanese fans say that they are more focused on her looks than politics.
Although Poklonskaya was a lawmaker in the lower house for the ruling party between 2016 and 2021, Russian media said the Kremlin did not want her to pursue another term because of her voting record and "extravagant" statements.
The occupation official is subject to EU and U.S. sanctions imposed over her involvement in Crimea and the crackdown on Crimean Tatars, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority who oppose Russian occupation.