Luzhkov's Deputy Retires

A long-term deputy of Mayor Yury Luzhkov retired Tuesday amid a City Hall personnel reshuffle.

The reshuffle could be a sign that Luzhkov will leave his post before his term expires in 2011, a political analyst and an opposition lawmaker said.

Anatoly Petrov, 71, had been one of Luzhkov's deputy mayors since 2001 and his representative in the City Duma since 1993, the City Duma's web site said.

"Petrov has asked me to relieve him of his post," Luzhkov said at a City Hall meeting on Tuesday, Interfax reported.

In a possible hint that Petrov would remain a city official, Luzhkov added that Petrov would "continue his bright public activities."

Petrov said he would become a member of the city's elections commission.

"It's my inititiave," Petrov said, Interfax reported. "One must allow for the possibility of renewal."

A Communist deputy in the City Duma, Sergei Nikitin, also said he believed that Petrov would remain a city official.

"Despite his age, [Petrov] is a ... hard-working person," Nikitin said by telephone. "I believe that the mayor will find him a post where he will show his worth."

Another deputy mayor, Valery Vinogradov, will take over Petrov's posts, while the prefect of the Central Administrative District, Sergei Baidakov, will replace Vinogradov, Luzhkov said.

City Hall spokespeople could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Alexei Mukhin of the Center for Political Technologies said the reshuffle could be Luzhkov's attempt to strengthen his power amid mounting pressure from the Kremlin, which he said wants the mayor to leave his post.

Luzhkov "prefers to leave at the peak of his political power," he said.

Lawmaker Nikitin also supposed that Luzhkov could leave his post early and that the replacements were aimed at protecting the mayor's allies from losing their posts under a new mayor.

The new mayor could "rather harshly replace" Luzhkov's teammates "without providing other posts," Nikitin said.