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Date: Thu, 30 Sep 2010 16:07:18 -0400
From: Patrick Armstrong <gpa@magma.ca>

Vladimir PutinLUZHKOV. Medvedev dismissed Luzhkov as mayor of Moscow on Tuesday and appointed his 1st Deputy Vladimir Resin pro tem. The reason given was that he had lost confidence in Luzhkov. Luzhkov thereupon resigned from the pedestal party. As usual, some in the Kommentariat are trying to spin this as evidence that the Duumvirate is cracking, but Putin seemed quite comfortable with the decision. So now what? I see three possibilities from Medvedev's side. 1. Luzhkov, who is 74, is allowed to go quietly into retirement. Dmitri Medvedev 2. He is given some face-saving appointment. Either seems to be more likely (based on past practice) than the third which is that a corruption prosecution is opened against him, his wife or both. Putting them on trial would send a very strong signal that Medvedev is serious about corruption and that even the highest are subject to the law. (And, come to think of it, not doing so would send quite a different signal). But, any prosecution has to be transparent and competent (the last being in rather short supply among government prosecutions: vide YUKOS and Budanov). It's a pity that it ended this way: I think Luzhkov did a great deal for his city but it would have been better had he stepped down a term ago. I believe that what's really happening here is that the Team is forcing out those regional heads who think they own their jobs. While Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the other recently departed leader-for-life, has his future worked out ­ he was just re-elected head of FIDE ­Luzhkov is still grumbling and has invoked the Russian version of Godwin's Law. Something not much noted is that there have been more name changes at the top than elsewhere: for example, in 1996 Yeltsin ran against Zhirinovskiy, Zyuganov and Yavlinskiy; in 2000 Putin ran against the three. Only the last had departed the political scene (and not at his own desire) when Medvedev ran in 2008. Luzhkov had been mayor since 1992 and Ilyumzhinov president of Kalmykia since 1993. A lot has happened since then.

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

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