Former mayor of Moscow says he will form his own political movement

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ex-mayor of Moscow to form political movement

MOSCOW — The former mayor of Moscow who was fired by Russia’s president said in an interview published Monday that he plans to form his own political movement.

Yuri Luzhkov, who was dismissed by President Dmitry Medvedev last week after 18 years in office, told the weekly New Times that his movement would seek to develop democracy in Russia.

“Our society today is governed by undemocratic laws,” he said in his first interview since his dismissal. “And our society has degenerated, degenerated quite seriously in all spheres.”

Luzhkov said he wouldn’t appeal his ouster because he believes that Russia’s highest court wouldn’t dare to defy the Kremlin.

“I can’t imagine that the Supreme Court will make a ruling that would contradict the presidential order,” he said.

Luzhkov lost the job after publicly criticizing Medvedev in a newspaper article. He said he believes the true reason behind his ouster was the Kremlin’s desire to have a more pliant mayor before parliamentary elections next year and the 2012 presidential vote.

“They want to put their own man in charge of Moscow ahead of time,” Luzhkov said.

He dismissed allegations of corruption, saying he and his billionaire wife, construction mogul Yelena Baturina, have done nothing wrong.

Under Luzhkov’s long tenure, Moscow has been transformed from a shabby and demoralized city into a swaggering metropolis. As the prices for Russia’s oil and gas soared and foreign investment poured into the vastly underdeveloped country, Russia’s capital sprouted gigantic construction projects — malls, offices and soaring apartment towers.

Much of that work was done by Inteko, the construction company headed by Luzhkov’s wife, who is believed to be Russia’s richest woman with an estimated fortune of $2.9 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

“We are honest people, no matter what they say or write,” Luzhkov said. “And my wife Yelena Baturina’s business is honest, the most transparent of all that exist in the construction sector.”

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