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New Moscow mayor at fork in political road: experts

10-21-2010 20:15 BJT

by Igor Serebryany

MOSCOW, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Sergei Sobyanin, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's former chief of staff, on Thursday was formally appointed Moscow mayor, filling the vacancy left by Luri Luzhkov.

This, however, had not ended discussions over what policy the new mayor might adopt to reshape the Russian capital, experts told Xinhua in recent interviews.

It all depends on what objective Sobyanin may receive along with his mandate, according to Cyrill Kabanov, head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee.

If Sobyanin chose to re-channel the financial flows, "he would have to destroy and rebuild from scratch the entire business model of the city's economy," Kabanov said.

"This means he would face fierce counteractions from the corrupt establishment which grew around (former mayor) Luzhkov and depended on him personally," he said.

Luzhkov, who was sacked by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Sept. 28 over what Medvedev said was a loss of confidence in Luzhkov, was widely believed to be linked to corruption, in particular involving his billionaire wife Yelena Baturina.

Therefore, Sobyanin must eliminate a system where a business could prosper only if its owner was personally close to the mayor's "inner circle," the expert pointed out.

"Sobyanin, in order to be successful, has to be tough, inevitably," Kabanov said, adding that he couldn't succeed just by appealing for goodwill from the city's elite.

"I would advise him to organize a couple of public anti-corruption hearings in order to demonstrate his readiness to clear the air. Otherwise, new 'hungry flies' will come instead of the old ones," he said.

Kabanov said Moscow was extremely corruption-prone, since local and federal interests here had been tied very tight.

"Moscow city, in effect, has been a closed corporation, whose 'board of directors' consists of only two or three dozen people. If Sobyanin purges this cabal, it would trigger a domino effect," Kabanov said.

The expert believed the new mayor's intentions to fight or not would be revealed by whom he appointed to head the city's law enforcement agencies.

"This will be the moment of truth," he said.

Meanwhile, another expert, Vitali Dymarski, deputy head of the Public Relations Development think-tank, told Xinhua it was currently unfair to say whether Sobyanin as a mayor was better or worse than his predecessor.

Just like Luzhkov, "Sobyanin used to run a region (referring to the Siberian region of Tyumen) that was as complicated, rich and influential as Moscow city," Dymarski said.

"Moscow is a super-region by definition, and the Kremlin will be cautious not to increase its weight by planting here a super-politician," he said.

Unlike Kabanov, Dymarski believed the new mayor would not wage a war against corrupt officials.

"He will inevitably change the personalities in his surroundings, but he will do this slowly and gradually," he said.

"Some remnants of the Luzhkov team would try to put Sobyanin under their control quietly, but he is not the type of person who would allow this," Dymarski said.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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