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Ex-Moscow Mayor Disparages Medvedev Democracy, Vows to Fight On

Yuri LuzhkovOct. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Yury Luzhkov, whom President Dmitry Medvedev fired as Moscow mayor last week, disparaged the state of democracy in Russia and vowed to form an independent political movement.

Luzhkov, 74, made his first public comments since his dismissal in a 12-page interview published today in The New Times magazine, vowing to fight any criminal charges that might be filed against him and defending his record as Moscow's mayor for 18 years.

"I will fight for my honor, because I still have it," Luzhkov said. "I honestly served Muscovites, and no one can claim I did anything in a criminal way."

Medvedev cited a "loss of confidence" when he fired Luzhkov on Sept. 28 following a series of programs on state- controlled television that accused the mayor of corruption and favoritism to his wife, billionaire developer Yelena Baturina. Luzhkov, dubbed "the last Mohican" by state news service RIA Novosti, was the final regional strongman to be forced off the national stage as Medvedev brings in a team of younger leaders loyal to the Kremlin.

While Luzhkov vowed to form a movement that would fight for Russia's democratization, he said it wouldn't take part in next year's parliamentary election or the 2012 presidential contest. Luzhkov last week quit Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ruling United Russia party, which the ex-mayor helped to found.

'Kremlin's Command'

Luzhkov faulted United Russia for lacking the independence to defend him as he faced mounting pressure to resign and said the media campaign against him was conducted "on the Kremlin's command." He said he wouldn't fight his dismissal as he doesn't believe the Supreme Court would rule against the president.

Presidential spokeswoman Natalya Timakova's mobile phone was switched off today. The New Times said interview requests to Medvedev, Putin, Timakova and other Kremlin officials went unanswered at the time of publication.

"I didn't see any issues or complaints about me," Luzhkov said. "I saw something else: the start of the election campaign, where Moscow must vote the way the highest leadership wants it to. And here there was some mayor who could suddenly act up. They needed one of their own."

Until a replacement is found, Moscow is being run by a Luzhkov deputy, Vladimir Resin.

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Russia, Government, Politics, Johnson's Russia List, Russia News, Russia, Luzhkov, Medvedev, Putin

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