Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 144

Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov carried the day on July 22 when he and First Deputy Premier Boris Nemtsov traveled to Nemtsov’s home territory, Nizhny Novgorod, for the inauguration of the region’s new governor, Ivan Sklyarov. Sklyarov was elected earlier this month to the post vacated when Nemtsov moved to Moscow. Since Nemtsov joined the government, he and Luzhkov have repeatedly clashed over Nemtsov’s plans to hike the prices of public utilities. Nemtsov says low rents and prices for water, gas, and electricity encourage waste. Luzhkov says ordinary people cannot afford higher prices and that the government should concentrate on getting the economy out of recession before trying to wring money out of the population.

Luzhkov used the inauguration to press this message home. As soon as the two men arrived at the airport, Luzhkov triumphantly showed off his new (Moscow-produced) Moskvich car, making it clear that he considered it vastly superior to the (Nizhny-produced) Volga waiting to convey Nemtsov. Nemtsov’s remarks at Sklyarov’s inauguration were brief and subdued, while Luzhkov’s own colorful, half-hour speech was dotted with scarcely veiled jibes at Nemtsov’s policies. To loud applause, Luzhkov called on Russia’s regions to unite, like fabled warriors of yore, against the threat to their autonomy posed by the federal government. (NTV, July 22)

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