Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov celebrates his 74th birthday in exile today just as Russian news reports hint — nay, state — that the Kremlin has given the mayor up to three weeks to leave voluntarily. If he does this, he’ll be replaced by one of his own men. If he doesn’t, he’ll be pushed aside and replaced with a Kremlin candidate.
This is clearly a Kremlin leak to indicate that the feds still have the upper hand in this. I should remind readers, however, that Russia’s main man, Vladimir Putin, has yet to speak out publicly about this insanity.
A telegram from Putin congratulating Luzhkov on his birthday has been leaked and picked up by radio station Echo Moskvy. In it, he congratulates Luzhkov on his birthday, and, oddly, on doing a heckuva job. Seems like another effort by Luzhkov’s people to once again play Putin off Medvedev.
Here’s the full text:
Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation
Telegraphed notice Moscow, 32 Tverskaya ulitsa, 13
To Moscow Mayor Yu. M. Luzhkov:
Dear Yuri Mikhailovich
I congratulate you on your birthday. You use your well-deserved authority as a competent and experienced professional, a manager who is energetic, endowed with a big talent for organization.
I wish you success in important work, health, and all the very best.
20 September 2010
The most important phrase here is ответственная работа, which I’ve translated as “important work,” but more precisely means “work that carries big responsibilities.” Luzhkov’s people will probably spin this as meaning that Putin thinks the mayor is doing fine as mayor and that he will therefore not lose his job. My take, however, is that this is simply some fulsome bullshit to grease Luzhkov into a new job the Kremlin wants to convince him is just as important. The talk now, after all, is of Luzhkov taking a new job, not simply retiring.
via Echo Moskvy