Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov Is Out
- Yuri Luzhkov
And he’s gone.
The inevitable has happened, rather more dramatically than I expected. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has gone but not with a sensible resignation and a quiet retirement in a nice post. Oh no. The Kremlin made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. And he refused it.
“I’m not going to resign of my own accord,” he told reporters yesterday morning.
“Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhkov is dismissed from the post of Mayor in connection with the loss of confidence of the President of the Russian Federation,” replied President Dmitry Medvedev in a decree he signed 24 hours later.
That was around 8 am Moscow time. Since then, Luzhkov has stormed out of United Russia, the ruling party which he co-founded, announced he will remain in politics, and has vowed to fight for a return to gubernatorial elections.
That’s big, and it’s not the outcome Medvedev and Putin wanted. Opinion polls (and that tried and tested gauge of public opinion, taxi driver chatter), show Luzhkov has largely lost the confidence of the electorate that he used to command. But he still won three elections before gubernatorial elections were abolished in 2004. And while not massively popular anymore, he’s not really reviled either – Muscovites are more ambivalent about him than hostile. And when the Kremlin came after him, there seemed to be a reservoir of residual sympathy he could still tap in to – a short notice poll by the Echo of Moscow radio station Monday found some 60 percent of Muscovites backed his decision not to resign.
This means two things. Since Luzhkov has vowed not to bow out of politics, we can expect a new and serious bruiser on the political scene taking on the Kremlin – if he is not destroyed, Mikhail Khodorkovsky-like, by criminal investigations into his murky financial arrangements. He’s not likely to be welcomed by the liberal opposition, for whom he has long been an enemy (though there has been a tangible softening of feeling in those quarters since the Kremlin turned on him), and he’d probably never unseat Medvedev or Putin. But he does have the potential to become a significant new force in the featureless landscape of contemporary Russian politics. That’s something to watch, especially in the run-up to the 2012 presidential elections.
Secondly, he has said that he’ll fight for the reinstatement of elections, apparently because he thinks he could win them. I’m not so sure of that – my personal feeling is Muscovites are weary of him, and his impressive approval ratings have at least been in part due to the lack of media coverage for any potential challenger. But judging simply from Internet chatter and my own acquaintances, they do think that if he is to be replaced, they should damned well be the ones doing it. I’m not saying anyone’s going to be lying down in front of tanks to demand the right to vote for their mayor – but there’s definitely a certain sentiment in the air.
And that is why today was not an ordinary day in Russia.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 2 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 3 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 4 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 5 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 6 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 7 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 8 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 9 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Strartup
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook