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Luzhkov Tapped for New Term

President Vladimir Putin has asked the City Duma to confirm Mayor Yury Luzhkov for another four years, the kremlin web site said Friday.

The City Duma -- dominated by United Russia deputies -- is expected to approve the nomination at a special meeting Wednesday.

Luzhkov, 70, will give a speech and answer questions at the meeting, before the deputies retire to vote, Interfax reported.

"There is no doubt that 28 people in the Moscow City Duma will vote for their leader," City Duma Speaker Vladimir Platonov said Saturday, Interfax reported.

Of the 35-member Duma, 28 are from United Russia, four are Communists and three represent the liberal Yabloko party.

Putin's nomination comes after the popular mayor asked the president for his blessing for a new term. Under a 2005 law that abolished gubernatorial elections, incumbents can seek the president's approval for a new term or wait until their mandates end and see whether the president nominates them. Moscow's mayor is considered a governor.

Luzhkov was elected to a third four-year term in 2003, and his current term expires in December.

Putin earlier this month hinted that he wanted Luzhkov to stay on, telling the mayor on June 5 that he needed to find ways to provide young families with affordable housing before he left office.

Opposition politicians in the City Duma and State Duma have said the Kremlin wants to keep Luzhkov in office to help deliver votes in State Duma elections in December and in the March presidential vote.

Luzhkov has overseen an unprecedented economic boom in the capital since being appointed mayor by President Boris Yeltsin in 1992. At the same time, he has come under fire over the demolition of historical buildings and the growing wealth of his wife, Yelena Baturina, 44, whom Forbes ranks as Russia's richest woman, with $3.1 billion. Luzhkov also has a passion for beekeeping and an aversion to gay parades, which he has banned as "satanic."

(The Moscow Times 25.vi.07)

 
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