For some weeks now we have been hearing about the mysterious closure of the Cherkizovsky market in Moscow, as well as the abundant swirling rumors behind the business dispute. The cast of characters is as colorful as can be. There is the Azeri oligarch Telman Ismailov, who owns the property, and is said to have angered the Kremlin
by throwing an ostentatious party at a time when the state purse was tight (Putin was “furious”
). There is the ubiquitous Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who is alleged to be in on the take (even his wife is alleged to hold a secret stake in the Sibir Energy case
). There is one story
about a real estate transaction to build apartments over the massive market. On top of all that there are reports racial tensions of among the hundreds of thousands of migrants and resident immigrants (Luzhkov has said that all the asians who couldn’t find work elsewhere would have to leave Russia
). The Chinese especially are getting pretty angry
about their losses. The only thing that we can safely discard is the official reason for the closing of the market – that the authorities were cracking down on contraband goods … my apologies to colleagues in IP.
Today Catrina Stewart of the Associated Press does her best to try to sort out all the different stories.
Image credit: A lone security guard reads a book at the empty Cherkizovsky market,where many of the traders come from Asia or the Caucasus regions, inMoscow on Tuesday, June 30, 2009. The huge market was unexpectedlyclosed by the city authorities due to violations of trade regulations. (AP Photo)