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Life after Luzhkov: the runners and riders in the race to be Moscow's new mayor

Building Models and Moscow PlannersThe identity of Moscow's next mayor could be clearer by the end of Wednesday when United Russia is expected to get to work on short-listing nominees for the post.

But some say acting mayor Vladimir Resin could be holding the fort for at least a month before he follows his former boss Yury Luzhkov into retirement.

Yelena Panina, secretary of the political council of United Russia's Moscow branch told Interfax that discussions would start as soon as possible, adding that the law required the president to nominate a candidate within 14 days.

That still gives time for a wide-ranging consultation with city residents, Panina said, with veterans and pensioners, businessmen, industrialists and workers in the social sector all invited to take part.

A cast of thousands

Russia's media have put forward a bewildering list of potential new mayors ­ including political big-hitters such as defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov and emergencies minister Sergei Shoigu.

Deputy prime minister Sergei Sobyanin and deputy chief of the presidential administration Alexander Beglov were also proposed by Vedomosti, while Kommersant hinted that Alexander Khloponin, recently appointed presidential envoy to the North Caucasus, might be in the running.

Nizhny Novgorod governor Valery Shantev has also been tipped in some quarters, including RIA Novosti.

Outside bets include former Kaliningrad governor Georgy Boos, who left the Baltic province with jeers ringing in his ears and the promise of a prominent federal role from United Russia bosses.

Of the current City Hall staff only deputy mayor Yury Roslyak has been mentioned as a likely candidate, with Resin saying he will resign along with the rest of Luzhkov's team.

First vice-premier Igor Shuvalov could also be given the role following his efforts to cement Moscow as an international finance centre.

Tandem allies

Whoever gets the nod, all eyes are likely to be on his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, hoping to catch a glimpse of what might happen in the 2012 presidential election.

The appointment of Shoigu, for example, would suggest Putin is strengthening his grip over the levers of power, perhaps paving the way for him to return to the presidency after a four-year break.

Shoigu, Russia's longest-serving minister, is known as a close friend and ally of Putin, who often holidays in the Tuva region where the minister grew up.

That may explain why Medvedev is keen to ensure the new mayor is Moscow born or educated ­ which would rule out Shoigu.

Meanwhile Serdyukov's path to City Hall is likely to be blocked by on-going military reforms, according to Vedomosti ­ a potential blow to Medvedev who is said to favour the defence minister's business experience.

Beglov, already based in Moscow, would be a viable candidate but lacks the profile of some of his rivals while Sobyanin was recently representing the Russian government at a business conference in Singapore ­ something of a profile boost for a previously little-known figure.

How it works

The new mayor is due to be nominated by Medvedev within two week's of Luzhkov's sacking.

Moscow's City Duma then gets to vote on the proposed candidate, and refuse the first two before running the risk of the Kremlin dissolving the capital's chamber and appointing directly.

This would be unprecendented in Russian politics, where typically new mayors and governors are rubber-stamped without delay by United Russia dominated dumas.

But Communist deputy Andrei Klychkov told gzt.ru that he expected a difficult battle for the president before Moscow's new appointment was settled.

Luzhkov to return?

All the speculation could be proved fruitless however if the ousted mayor succeeds with a threatened court suit.

Luzhkov is said to be mulling over legal action against an unfair dismissal, although City Duma speaker Vladimir Platonov, a long-time colleague of the ex-mayor, was unable to say for certain whether the case would go ahead.

Meanwhile a government legal representative, Mikhail Barshchevsky, said that Luzhkov's sacking did not contravene the labour code, Ekho Moskvy reported.


Russia, Government, Politics, Johnson's Russia List, Russia News, Russia, Medvedev, Luzhkov, Moscow Mayor

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