Friday, 14 May 2010

Last tango for Luzhkov?

Most observers agree that Yury Luzhkov's tenure as Moscow's mayor is about to end, and the main question is whether he'll go in the summer of 2011 when his term ends, or before.

Dmitry Orlov, general director of the agency of political and economic communications (APEK), which recently prepared the analytical report entitled "After Luzhkov", told The Moscow News that Luzhkov may stay in office until early 2011, but no longer than that.

"True, his departure upon the end of his term would be quite logical, but a national parliamentary election is scheduled for late 2011, and a new Moscow mayor should have about a year, not just several months to prepare for that," he said.

"The federal authorities are certainly interested in Luzhkov's departure," he went on to say. "And several influential groups in power that may differ on other issues are all united against Luzhkov." Orlov would not specify what particular groups he was referring to.

Luzhkov recently experienced several major blows that are widely believed to be a sign that his days as the mayor are numbered. The city hall's plan to display images of Stalin on the streets in tandem with the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the victory in World War II was met with resentment, and the mayor had to back down.

Similarly, the general plan of the development of Moscow through 2025 (commonly referred to as Genplan) resulted in scathing criticism from different factions, most notably from the Public Chamber. Although the Moscow City Duma hastily adopted the controversial document in early May, public opposition to Genplan remains high, resulting in a Pyrrhic victory for Luzhkov.

It is generally accepted that since taking office back in 1992, Luzhkov has been able to adhere to his vow to "combine the advantages of capitalism and socialism," yet public support of the mayor is declining.

A recent rating of politicians published by polling agency VTsIOM signified a decline of Luzhkov's popularity indicator from solid +6 in early 2006 to negative -2 last April.

It seems that the only factor that could help Luzhkov stay in power just a little longer is the 2011 parliamentary election. "Either Luzhkov will go this August or September, which is quite likely", Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank, told The Moscow News. "Or, he might stay until the 2011 parliamentary election, as he would be able to ensure support for the Kremlin."

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