Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 109

Another leading Russian politician unhappy with the alleged designs of the Kremlin inner circles is Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who, according to some media reports, the Kremlin has targeted for political “neutralization.” On June 4 Luzhkov issued another warning, saying “[I will not] stand by if the Kremlin uses its muscle to pressure me.” Luzhkov also said that the Moscow city authorities are “absolutely free to protect themselves and retaliate” against such moves, adding: “I have not launched any confrontation. The presidential administration should be asked about this.” Luzhkov said that Yeltsin’s “administration and his circle foster a growing desire to crush [me], to consider [me] a chief enemy” (Russian agencies, June 4).

According to some reports, the Kremlin is considering a plan to cut off Moscow’s federal subsidies and to take other measures which would hurt Luzhkov’s administration financially, thereby robbing him of his image as a successful city manager. The Kremlin is also reportedly behind the plans by New Force (Novaya sila)–the political movement founded by former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko–to run a candidate against Luzhkov in the next mayoral elections, which Luzhkov’s administration has said it would like to move back from June 2000 to December of this year. Kirienko has neither confirmed nor ruled out that he will run against Luzhkov. Luzhkov also plans to run candidates from his movement Fatherland (Otechestvo) in December’s parliamentary vote.

Meanwhile, Yeltsin’s spokesman Dmitri Yakushkin said that the attacks in the media on the Kremlin administration are simply proof that the electoral season has started in earnest. Yeltsin, Yakushkin said, does not reject Luzhkov’s movement but that their “tactical approaches” differ. Yakushkin also denied that there are splits and tensions between the presidential administration and Sergei Stepashin’s cabinet. Stepashin, he said, “is not the kind of person who would work under surveillance.” Yakushkin said that Yeltsin supports the new cabinet and that there is “a foundation for good dialogue” between the cabinet and the Kremlin, which, he said, “was lacking with members of the previous government” (Interfax-Vremya, June 4).