Russian speaker says enough ground to dismiss Moscow Mayor

Russia`s third most powerful official sided with President Dmitry Medvedev in his ongoing tussle with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, whom the state media has accused of corruption.

Moscow: Russia`s third most powerful
official on Thursday sided with President Dmitry Medvedev in his
ongoing tussle with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, whom the state
media has accused of corruption, even as Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin has chosen to remain mum on the issue.

Speaker of the Upper House, Sergei Mironov, favoured
the dismissal of the Mayor as row between the Kremlin and the
Moscow City Hall grew bitter.

"There is more than enough ground for dismissal of
Luzhkov, now it is up to the leadership of the country to have
its say," Speaker of the Federation Council (Upper House)
Mironov said today.

Under the Russian constitution, Mironov occupies the
third top job in the political hierarchy after President
Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"I believe the country`s leadership should take steps.
There is a rule that any head of any region can be dismissed
in case of loss of trust.

"If the president sees that he cannot trust a head of
a region, he can sack him," Mironov was quoted as saying by

The Kremlin and Luzhkov have traded barbs as national
television has aired reports of corruption in Moscow under the
mayor and his billionaire wife Elena Baturina, who reports
said has been minting money in the lucrative construction
business in the capital.

Putin has kept mum on the issue as the Mayor is one of
the leaders and founders of the ruling United Russia party,
formally headed by him.

"I have nothing to comment. We have not heard or seen
anything new (in anti-Luzhkov TV reports). Everything is
evident for me," Mironov said responding to questions on the
Kremlin-sponsored media campaign against Luzhkov.

According to reports, the national TV channels are
planning to air new reports exposing corrupt practices of the
mayor`s wife Baturina, who among many things has allegedly
grabbed plots of land allocated to the Indian, Chinese, Cuban
and Vietnamese embassies.

In response to the media campaign, Luzhkov, who has
been heading Moscow since 1992, declared that he is going to
complete his term till June 2011 and is not going to resign.
Responding to Luzhkov an unnamed Kremlin official
said: "It is the prerogative of the Russian president".

According to "Vedomosti" financial daily Luzhkov may
be fired two or three weeks after his birthday, September 21,
when he turns 74, but no later than December.