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Moscow mayor fires back over “groundless” misconduct accusations

Published time: October 03, 2010 09:32
Edited time: October 03, 2010 09:32

Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, who bore the brunt of several scathing TV broadcasts that alluded to abuse of office over the weekend, has found supporters in the capital’s parliament.

The Moscow Duma on Wednesday approved a statement claiming the accusations against Luzhkov are groundless, Russian news agencies reported. The MPs were summoned for a session after several major Russian TV channels aired documentaries about the alleged numerous wrongdoings of the Moscow Mayor, his wife Yelena Baturina and some top officials in the city administration.

In the Wednesday statement the city legislature compared the TV campaign to a witch hunt and called it “nothing more than a set of groundless charges” with the objective of creating a negative opinion about the city authorities’ activities. It also read that the work of the television specialists lacked professionalism and responsibility which would eventually lead to loss of public credibility.

The Wednesday statement was the last of just 14 statements the Moscow legislature has approved in 17 years of its existence, Russian news agency Interfax reported.

On Tuesday, Luzhkov said he was preparing lawsuits against the media that reported about his alleged wrongdoings. The press service of Yelena Baturina’s main holding Inteko also said it will take cases against the media to court. The Financial Times on Wednesday publicly apologized and said that the information that they presented in their report dedicated to the matter was simply a combination of Russian stories with due attribution to sources.

Political party United Russia – which holds an overwhelming majority of seats in the Russian parliament, and where Luzhkov is an important member – has said that it would not discuss the issue. Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has said that his office was not planning any checks into the wrongdoings mentioned in the television programs.

In a speech to a political council of United Russia’s Moscow branch, Yury Luzhkov himself said that he was not planning to retire in the nearest future. A short time later, the state-run news agency RIA Novosti quoted an unnamed source in the presidential administration as saying that it was not in Luzhkov’s competence to decide whether he should stay or leave.

According to Russian law, heads of federal regions are appointed by the president and the candidacy is then approved by regional legislature.