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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Luzhkov to risk jail in a bid to boost democracy

Yuri LuzhkovLike a sitcom character who can't face telling his family he's been fired, Yury Luzhkov turned up at City Hall again on Monday morning.

Ostensibly the former mayor was collecting his last few bits and pieces, but his arrival at 8 am continued a tradition which has continued every working day since his sacking on Tuesday.

So it's not surprising that his first interview following his departure from Moscow's mayoralty had him pledging to remain active in politics rather than retire to the Alps.

Speaking to the New Times he said he was willing to defy prosecution and set up his own movement.

Martyr of democracy

Many will be surprised that Luzhkov ­ notorious for his tough staff on protests from opposition groups, sexual minorities and others who didn't take his fancy ­ is ready to risk jail for his newly democratic beliefs.

However, after 18 years as head of his own fiefdom in Moscow he is preparing to rally support among pensioners and the intelligentsia to back his pro-democracy movement.

And he's doing so in the face of the law, he claimed. Asked if he was aware it could lead to a criminal case against him, he replied: "Certainly. I'm not a child."

But he added: "I'm not ready to go to jail. I'm not going there because I was working and we can speak of the mayor and say he worked honestly.

"Nobody has a legitimate reason to send me to jail."

Washing his hands

A tough stance on protest marches ­ particularly the Agenda 31st gatherings which were routinely driven out of Triumfalnaya Ploshchad by riot police ­ was not down to Luzhkov, the ex-mayor said.

"I did not give orders, I am not a representative of law enforcement," Luzhkov said when asked if the crackdown was a mistake.

"If the actions of protestors do not interfere with the life and work of other people, it is their right to demonstrate."

No court case

Following his dismissal, Luzhkov reportedly considered taking legal action to reverse the presidential decision to oust him.

And Moscow lawyer Anatoly Lemeshev has already filed a suit at the Supreme Court on the ex-mayor's behalf.

But Luzhkov told The New Times he won't be appealing, saying that he doubted the Supreme Court would contradict Dmitry Medvedev.

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

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