Could the career of Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has surveying Russia’s capital for the past seventeen years be on the rocks? With the recent election, reports circulated that the septuagenarian politician could be facing the axe after a series of scandals, including the shady dealings behind the Cherkizovsky market closure, and the issue of how his wife, Yelena Baturina, scaled the ranks of the property world to become Russia’s only female dollar billionaire, tarred the mayor’s reputation.
What is telling however, as an article in today’s Times shows, is that regardless of popular opinion for or against the mayor, the pressure on him is coming, if Yabloko helmsman Sergei Mitrokhin be believed, from within the Kremlin. So even though change may be in the air, Luzhkov’s removal may be unlikely to spell good news for opposition figures or for democratic procedures.
“The campaign against Luzhkov is being waged by pro-Kremlin forces. There is an order to hound him, but we won’t take part in this,” said Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, which, in a sign of the Kremlin’s grip over parliament, has lost all its deputies.
“We don’t want to see him removed because then they could appoint somebody who was unelected and who would do to Moscow anything the Kremlin happens to want.”