For weeks the Kremlin has been pressuring Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov to resign. In a rare bout of resistance, the longstanding mayor resisted — until now.
Medvedev announced today: “I will decide who will lead Moscow.” He named a Luzhkov deputy, Vladimir Resin, according to The Moscow Times.
Luzhkov, the mayor of the Yeltsin era, may represented the last person in the dominant United Russia party who would stand up to the Kremlin. Expat journalist John Helmer calls him a martyr:
Luzhkov wasn’t saying that the coalition of forces around President Dmitry Medvedev, who have been behind the ouster measures, will not prove stronger than he is. “I am not going to resign of my own accord,” was the way the mayor put the position. This is the most public challenge ever issued to Medvedev. Luzhkov is daring Medvedev to prove his strength – and to risk the judgement of pusillanimity if he can’t…
Since the death of Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, there has been no honour in Russian politics. Apparatchiki make their markov with threats they are afraid to put their names to. Whatever the charges against Luzhkov, true or false, everyone understands that he is not more culpable than his accusers. But by saying no, and saying it now, he is doing what Akhromeyev could not – putting the gun in his principal accuser’s hand, and challenging him to fire.
Medvedev pulled the trigger, and now the Kremlin looks stronger than ever.
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