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Fired Moscow mayor lashes out at Kremlin

From Matthew Chance, CNN Senior International Correspondent
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Ousted mayor of Moscow discusses job loss
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Luzhkov accused Medvedev of having overseen "calamities, terrorist acts, and bad harvests"
  • The two politicians have long been at odds
  • Luzhkov wrote an article slamming the decision to suspend work on a road near Moscow
  • The Kremlin, asked for comment, does not respond

Moscow, Russia (CNN) -- Moscow's former mayor has launched a stinging rebuke of the Russian president, just weeks after being unceremoniously dismissed from office by the Kremlin.

Speaking in an exclusive CNN interview, Yuri Luzhkov accused President Dmitry Medvedev of overseeing "calamities, terrorist acts, and bad harvests," during his period in power.

"When he fires or reshuffles officials, proposes projects on paper, those things are being taken quite skeptically," Luzhkov said. "Any initiative is good, but it must lead to actual results, which has not been happening so far."

CNN asked the Kremlin to react to Luzhkov's comments, but did not receive a response.

CNN's full interview with Yuri Luzhkov

It's no secret the mayor and the president have been at odds, most recently over the Kremlin's decision to suspend work on a controversial road through a forest near Moscow.

Shortly before being dismissed last month, the 74-year-old mayor -- a veteran of Russian politics -- wrote a newspaper article slamming the decision, widely seen as undermining the president's authority.

In his interview with CNN, Luzhkov said Wednesday that he believed he was fired to enable the Kremlin to tighten its grip on power.

...They need someone who would follow the Kremlin's orders. That is why my career as Moscow mayor ended.
--Former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov
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  • Moscow
  • Russia
  • Dmitry Medvedev

"The presidential elections of 2012 are approaching. The authorities need the city of Moscow to support the candidate who they will propose. And they need a man from their circle as mayor of Moscow," Luzhkov said.

Then, referring to himself in the third person, he added, "Mayor Luzhkov is unusual, self-sufficient, and independent. And they need someone who would follow the Kremlin's orders. That is why my career as Moscow mayor ended."

For nearly two decades, Luzhkov oversaw Moscow's dramatic transformation from a drab Soviet capital to a glittering symbol of modern Russia.

As tensions between the Kremlin and City Hall boiled over last month, Russian state television channels began broadcasting news reports and documentaries alleging corruption and incompetence in the mayor's office.

Q&A: Why Moscow's mayor fell foul of Medvedev

The most serious accusation is of corruption: One news report detailed ways in which Luzhkov allegedly channeled funds and lucrative deals to his property-developer wife, now Russia's richest woman.

Luzhkov rejected the allegations against himself and his billionaire wife, saying they are part of a Kremlin-backed plot to discredit him.

"No. I"m absolutely positive in saying that the mayor had not helped her at all in her business. You've got to hail a person's talent instead of suspecting him or her," he said.

 
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