Luzhkov’s Dismissal No Tandem Split

Amy Knight at the New York Review of Books is the latest writer to push the popular view that Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov’s dismissal was the result of a Putin-Medvedev split (supported by Luzhkov’s statement to CNN that he was ‘surprised‘ that Vladimir Putin did not step in to save his job).  The underlying implication is that Dmitry Medvedev had Luzkhov sacked in order to boost his own credibility and ‘stand up to Luzhkov’s insubordination.‘  
And it isn’t hard to see why so many journalists are taking this line: perpetuated by Luzkhov himself in saying that the ‘real reason‘ behind the decision was due to potential rivalry between the President and Prime Minister at the next elections.  But if there was ever a reason to doubt a political motive, surely its transparent admission would be one of them.
Since the dismissal, RFE/RL’s Brian Whitmore has been calling this theory a smokescreen.  He reiterates the point here, and considers the likelihood of Moscow getting not one, but two new mayors in a possible tandem between Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin and Nizhny Novgorod Governor Valery Shantsev. 
Under that plan, Sobyanin would be mayor and Shantsev would be an executive deputy mayor, a sort of premier/city manager.‘ Click to read the full article.