Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 113

Yuri Luzhkov has stepped up his attack–or, as he would see it, his counterattack–against the Kremlin. Yesterday, the Moscow mayor–a leading contender for the presidency in the scheduled June 2000 election–charged again that President Boris Yeltsin’s inner circle regards him as “enemy No. 1” and was “giving all kinds of orders to search for various violations, that is, to collect kompromat (compromising materials)” against him.

Luzhkov’s claims were immediately dismissed by Kremlin administration chief Aleksandr Voloshin, who said: “If there is kompromat on Yuri Mikhailovich [Luzhkov] and his entourage, I know nothing about it.” Voloshin also offered to order the law enforcement agencies to investigate Luzhkov’s charges (Russian agencies, June 10).

The latest round of charges and denials between Luzhkov and the Kremlin administration comes at a time when Luzhkov is under public attack by former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, who last weekend said that he was considering running against Luzhkov in the next Moscow mayoral vote, which may be moved up from next year to December of this year. In two interviews published today, Kirienko charged Luzhkov’s administration in Moscow with, among other things, awarding construction projects on a noncompetitive basis and excessive bureaucratization. Kirienko also charged that Moscow media were “unfree”–that is, essentially under the control of the Luzhkov government. The former prime minister said that Russia’s ruling class in general needs to be replaced (Komsomolskaya pravda, Novoe izvestia, June 11).

While Luzhkov and members of his team charge, with some apparent justification, that Kirienko is serving as the Kremlin’s attack dog, the Moscow mayor is being put under the microscope for the first time. Luzhkov would appear to be somewhat rattled by this. He said yesterday, for example, that he and his team are “working honestly, though some blame us for dictatorship” (Russian agencies, June 10). It is hard to remember a time when Luzhkov was forced to defend himself in this manner.