LUZHKOV CLAIMS KREMLIN UNLAWFULLY RESTRICTED HIS FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 119
Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is again complaining of Kremlin harassment. On June 19, he was to fly by helicopter over Moscow Oblast, just outside the capital, together with Moscow Oblast Governor Anatoly Tyzhlov, to inspect how the growing season was going for the potatoes, carrots, beets and other produce which will supply the capital in the winter. However according to Boris Nikolsky, first vice premier in the Moscow city government, officials from the Moscow Military District called Luzhkov’s office early on June 19 and said that the helicopter had been denied permission to fly by Russian Airforce chief Anatoly Kornukov. Luzhkov, who ended up making the tour by automobile, later said that permission for the aerial inspection tour had been denied on the grounds that President Boris Yeltsin was set to fly to Cologne, Germany, the next day (June 20) to attend the G-7 summit. Luzhkov said the order forbidding his helicopter flight violated the Russian constitution’s guarantee of freedom of movement (NTV, June 20; Vremya-MN, June 21).
It is not clear whether Luzhkov’s complaint of deliberate Kremlin harassment has a basis or not. The Kremlin has not commented on the incident. In any case, Luzhkov’s complaint is ironic, given that human rights activists have consistently criticized the Moscow mayor for holding on to the Soviet-era “propiska” system, under which only people with Moscow resident permits are allowed to be in the city without special permission. While the propiska regime is honored more in the breach than the practice, Moscow police are known to frequently arrest people, particularly those from the Caucasus region, for violating the propiska regime. At times, they have been forcefully removed from the city in large numbers.
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