Moscow: The Kremlin on Tuesday issued a stinging
rebuke to Moscow`s long-serving mayor Yuri Luzhkov for staying
on holiday for days while the city choked under unprecedented
smog and fires raged on its fringes.
Luzhkov, the Russian capital`s strongman for almost the
entire post-Soviet period, steadfastly refused to break off
his summer break even as the scale of the crisis became clear
and only returned on Sunday.
"Of course it is good that Yuri Mikhailovich (Luzhkov)
returned from holiday and took up his duties. But of course
this should have happened earlier," a Kremlin source said in a
statement on Russian news agencies.
"The absence of the mayor clearly did not help that
necessary decisions being made on time, without delays," the
As Moscow started choking under the worst smog in living
memory last week, Luzhkov initially refused to return from
holiday, with his aides earning ridicule in the tabloid press
by denying there was any crisis in the city.
His press spokesman Sergei Tsoi had told news website
lifenews.ru last week that there was "no crisis situation in
Moscow". It has not been confirmed where Luzhkov was
When the mayor finally returned on Sunday, Luzhkov`s
deputy also raised eyebrows by explaining the 73-year-old
mayor had been absent for treatment on a "sports injury".