News / Europe

Russian President Fires Moscow Mayor

Multimedia

Audio
  • Interview With VOA senior correspondent Andre de Nesnera

James Brooke

On a state trip to China, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev reached around the world to fire the Mayor of Moscow.

In what analysts are calling the most decisive move of his presidency, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev took on the entrenched Mayor of Moscow - and fired him.

He says he has lost trust in Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhkov as the Mayor of Moscow.

On Monday, Luzhkov, mayor of Russia's capital for almost two decades, all but dared the president to fire him. Tuesday morning, he learned from a television report that he was being fired.

Since the fall of communism, a series of Russian presidents and prime ministers, have treated Luzhkov gingerly. Not only did he rule Russia's political, economic, and financial center, but this pugnacious barrel-chested man was genuinely popular, and controlled the largest electoral base for the ruling United Party.

VOA's senior correspondent Andre de Nesnera discusses what the firing was all about:

Two weeks ago, in the face of direct attacks from Kremlin-controlled television stations, Mayor Luzhkov received unanimous votes of support from the city council and the local chapter of the ruling party.

By dethroning the mayor, Mr. Medvedev, a reformist, may be preparing his candidacy for the 2012 presidential elections. Editor Victor Lannik, of the independent newspaper Slovo, believes the president's bold move changes Russia's political equation.

"He will be a candidate, which means we are in for a very intriguing political period," he said.

In recent weeks, when pressure grew from the Kremlin, Moscow's mayor increasingly tried to ally himself to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Mr. Medvedev's mentor. One month ago, Mr. Putin had assured the mayor he would serve out his term, until July. But this month, Mr. Putin remained silent, never rising to the Mayor's defense.

On a visit Tuesday to an Arctic village, Mr. Putin told reporters it is perfectly obvious the Moscow mayor had a conflict with the president, and "in the meantime the mayor reports to the president, not vice versa."

Now the fight is for control of the political machine that runs the most populous city in Europe and Russia's largest regional budget, $36-billion a year.

Luzhkov resigned from the ruling party, but he told colleagues he would remain active in politics.

Exiled Russia oligarch Boris Berezovsky has urged Mr. Luzhkov to run for president. In an interview Monday in New Times magazine, he said: "The only rescue for Luzhkov is to go into politics and announce his presidential bid. Then every arrest and lawsuit will be, roughly speaking, another million votes."

Ruling party parliament deputy Sergei Markov warned in an interview that Luzhkov would be unwise to join Russia's political opposition.

"It is not clear if he will start accepting the reality, or if he will start some attack. If so, I think the business empire of his wife, Yelena Baturina, will be attacked," said Markov. "Yuri Luzhkov's opposition activity, of course, it will look a little strange."

Baturina was a mid-level city official when she married Luzhkov in 1991, the year before he became mayor. Today a construction magnate, she is the only woman billionaire on Forbes' magazine list of Russia's richest people.

Moscow's acting mayor will be deputy mayor Vladimir Resin, who has been responsible for the city's construction sector. Last year, Resin became widely known after Vedemosti, the Russian business newspaper, published a photograph of him wearing a Swiss-made watch valued at $1 million.

Muscovites appear to be taking a new interest in the corruption allegations that swirl around City Hall. Last Saturday, 1,000 people in Moscow demonstrated in favor of restoring direct elections to choose big city mayors. But President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin, known here as the 'tandem', made it clear the Kremlin will choose the next mayor of Moscow.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs