Luzhkov's Ouster Explained

Oct 26, 2011 — 23:00

Luzhkov's Ouster Explained

Oct 26, 2011 — 23:00
In happier days, former Mayor Yury Luzhkov with President Dmitry Medvedev and metro chief Dmitry Gayev at the Slavyansky Bulvar station in September 2008.

Breaking its near-silence on the ouster of Mayor Yury Luzhkov last year, the Kremlin said Wednesday that Luzhkov was fired for poorly managing Moscow and fostering "exorbitant corruption" here.

Luzhkov's billionaire wife, Yelena Baturina, promptly threatened to sue for defamation. Luzhkov himself accused the Kremlin earlier of overseeing a "mad syphoning off" of city assets following his ouster.

President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Luzhkov after 18 years as mayor in September 2010, and the only explanation that he has offered was that he had "lost confidence" in him. Medvedev did hint in June that the ouster involved corruption allegations, telling a forum of international investors — without mentioning Luzhkov — that corrupt officials should be fired for "loss of confidence" when there is evidence of bribery but not enough to press criminal charges.

Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin said Wednesday that Luzhkov was sacked "first, over extremely inefficient city management and, second, over the exorbitant corruption that Luzhkov and his subordinates allowed" in Moscow, Interfax reported.

Baturina, in an interview with Dozhd television, called on Naryshkin to provide evidence to back up his allegations or apologize. She also suggested that he resign and promised to sue him for defamation for the corruption allegations.

Luzhkov told Dozhd for a story published Wednesday that Medvedev might have been talked into firing him by "national industrial groups" that wanted to control city property.

He did not name the groups, but said they were involved in recent share sales of Sibir Energy to Gazprom Neft; the Mosmetrostroi metro developer to Tsentrostroi, linked to Vladimir Kogan and Valery Abramson; and Bank of Moscow to VTB Group.

Luzhkov, speaking by phone from Austria, also mentioned Vnukovo Airport, a stake in which is expected to go on sale for almost 14 billion rubles ($450 million) within two months, part of a massive sale of Moscow assets under new Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a longtime ally of Medvedev's mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"Moscow was a juicy tidbit for these people who have already siphoned off so many assets in Russia," Luzhkov said.

He also conceded that his dismissal was linked to Medvedev's "political displeasure" with him.

Luzhkov has been summoned by the police for questioning in connection with a loan of 12.7 billion rubles ($416 million) in city funds that Bank of Moscow extended to the Premier Estate bank but allegedly wound up in the personal account of his wife.

The summons came after Luzhkov criticized Medvedev and the ruling United Russia party on Radio Free Europe last week. He spoke in that interview from London.

With the London interview, Luzhkov "started the untimely promotion of his alleged achievements and the president's failures," and that is why he was summoned for questioning, a Kremlin source told on Tuesday.

It remains unclear when Luzhkov will return to Russia for questioning. On Wednesday, he dismissed speculation that he feared arrest, saying he would return in early November.

The mayor said earlier that he feared criminal prosecution after his removal.


Katie Mitchell. Five Truths

British director Katie Mitchell’s renowned exhibit Five Truths, originally created by the London National Theatre and 59 Productions for London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. It consists of ten video monitors, on which videos of Ophelia's scene of madness from Shakespeare's Hamlet are projected. All the scenes are performed by Michelle Terry in the style of five major theater directors of the 20th century: Konstantin Stanislavsky, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook. Read more

The Diplomatic Life of Vitaly Churkin

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations for more than a decade, died suddenly in New York on Monday.

see more

Russia Prepares for High Camp Battle Behind Enemy Lines

This year’s Eurovision song contest in Kiev is set for political controversy

Trump’s New National Security Adviser Is No Friend of Russia’s

Moscow knows little about General McMaster, but isn’t particularly happy ...

Russia Prepares for High Camp Battle Behind Enemy Lines

This year’s Eurovision song contest in Kiev is set for political controversy