Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, long "one of the Russian state's untouchable saints," has finally fallen from grace, writes Julia Ioffe in Foreign Policy. Luzhkov has held onto his "throne" for 18 years, creating a vast network of underlings who answer only to him and extending his control into every corner of the city's life. "He is Moscow's boss, which is precisely the problem: There can only be one boss in Moscow, and his name is Vladimir Putin." So the Kremlin recently hammered Luzhkov with an almost unprecedented "smear campaign," feeding state TV outlets dirt on Luzhkov's wealthy wife's "crookedly financed construction projects, his lieutenants' Swiss watch collections," and various alleged abuses of power. It looks like this is one fight Luzhkov can't win. Here, an excerpt:
It's no surprise that Luzhkov is finally about to go. President Dmitri Medvedev has been pushing the stodgy, unresponsive old guard of regional government into retirement since the beginning of his term. It is an attempt to head off discontent — and any potential sabotage in the upcoming parliamentary elections. But Luzhkov has ignored what was becoming obvious to everyone: His time was up...
So now what?... A fight like the one that just unfolded is not one that the Kremlin can be seen to lose, which means that Luzhkov has to step down. The Kremlin cannot simply fire him because the Luzhkov machine, woven together not only by money but by family times, is still alive and well, and the state needs it on its side. Making an enemy of Luzhkov and his army would be a disaster, especially when it comes time to vote next fall...
Read the full article at Foreign Policy.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Ted Cruz is the new Sarah Palin
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- Why you probably don't have Ebola — even if you shook hands with America's 'patient zero'
- Fall film guide: All the movies you should see in October
- The dumb war in Syria will haunt Democrats' 2014 prospects
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert are accidentally having a serious debate on ISIS
Subscribe to the Week