Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 105

Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who has often been at odds with the federal leadership, lashed out at the Russian government again this week. Visiting the south Russian city of Krasnodar to sign the latest in a series of agreements between the capital and other key regions, Luzhkov told a conference of provincial leaders that they knew better than the federal government "and Western experts" what was best for the Russian population. He complained in particular about what he said was the failure of the federal government to foster small- and medium-sized businesses. Luzhkov said that the Moscow city government has actively encouraged small-scale enterprise, as a result of which the capital is now virtually free of unemployment, but that the city’s efforts had met with nothing but obstruction from the central government. Luzhkov fulminated against the federal government’s refusal to allow Moscow to establish its own road fund; he also complained that the government had refused to fund further construction of the Moscow metro or to help the city build up its reserve food stocks. (Rabochaya tribuna, May 27)

Luzhkov attacked First Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov’s plans to reform housing and communal services, which he described as "an attempt by the government to shift their problems onto the shoulders of the population." Luzhkov has repeatedly said that the vast majority of the population cannot afford higher housing rents and that the government’s planned reforms will destroy the market for those now thinking of buying houses of their own. (Itar-Tass, May 23) His speech in Krasnodar was warmly received by other local government leaders present, including the mayors and administration heads of Astrakhan, Omsk, Volgograd, Saratov, and a number of other Russian cities. Few observers believe Luzhkov’s repeated denials that he has presidential ambitions and his latest foray into the provinces will be seen as another move to bolster the support he has built in many parts of Russia where provincial leaders feel that the federal government is out of touch with their needs.

Varied Reactions to Signing of NATO-Russia Accord.