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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

What Mayoral Election?

We have a unique situation in Moscow. Several people have decided simultaneously that they want to be mayor of the capital.


How can that be, when elections to the post of mayor have not been announced? When the position is already occupied by Yury Luzhkov, who was named by President Boris Yeltsin?


It is the Moscow City Council which is most uncomfortable with Luzhkov as mayor. This is despite the fact the City Council itself got Luzhkov's political career rolling in 1990 when it named him its top executive official.


Soon after, the City Council became the staunches opponent of Luzhkov's power. This is absurd, but life would be boring if such things did not happen. In 1991, Muscovites elected a mayor, Gavriil Popov, and a deputy mayor, Luzhkov, to a five-year term.


After a year marked by several resignation attempts, Popov finally resigned in June, having fulfilled his political goal at the time - the consolidation of local power. By law his position went automatically to the deputy mayor, Luzhkov. President Yeltsin confirmed this automatic transition with an decree appointing Luzhkov head of the city government. This is where Yeltsin made his mistake - he did not consult with the Moscow City Council. Taking advantage of the president's blunder, the City Council declared Luzhkov's appointment illegal, and called new mayoral elections for Dec. 5.


But the City Council itself made a gross legal error: It does not have the power to call elections. This was confirmed by the Moscow People's Court, where Gennady Ponamaryov, the city prosecutor, brought suit to have the Council's decision rescinded. The court did so, but meanwhile the race for the election had already begun. The candidates, not recognizing the court's decision, went forging brazenly ahead, like bears in the steppe.


To date, three people have declared themselves candidates for mayor. They are Alexander Krasnov, the head of one of Moscow's central districts; Svyatoslav Fyodorov, the world-famous eye surgeon; and the economist Larisa Piyasheva, the city's former top privatization official.


Who are these self-appointed candidates, where do they come from, and what are their real goals? It is not concern for the city's residents which motivates the candidates. These aspiring mayors want power. They represent new forces, new parties which are seeking increased political influence.


As a district council chairman living on a government salary, Krasnov does not have the funds for an election campaign (which specialists say would cost about 100 million rubles). Krasnov won't earn that much in his whole life. and he can't use money from the district budget.


To solve his problem, Krasnov apparently asked for help from his old friend Konstantin Borovoi, the president of the Russian Commodities and Raw Materials Exchange. Now Krasnov has money.


Borovoi's influence on local politics does not stop there. His Party for Economic Freedom has nominated yet another candidate, Svyatoslav Fyodorov.


Fyodorov had previously nominated himself for the post of president of Russia, and the current nomination for him was a bit of a demotion. What's a mayor, after all, compared to a president?


However, in Borovoi's party, just like in the old Communist Party, strict discipline rules, and Fyodorov submitted to it. It seems that, at 65, he doesn't really want to compete for local power, but he doesn't have the strength to refuse power when it's offered to him.


But Borovoi has said that if Fyodorov does ultimately refuse the nomination (there must be some wavering after all), Borovoi himself will run for mayor of the city.


The candidacy of the economist Larisa Piyasheva completes the picture. Despite her opposition to the ideas of former Mayor Popov, she agreed to work with him as deputy head of the department of the mayor's office.


Piyasheva was unable, however, to work with Luzhkov, who did not accept her proposals for "avalanche" privatization. Popov left, and Piyasheva was left alone with Luzhkov, who made it clear that she was no longer welcome. She left her position and slammed the door behind her by nominating herself for the post of mayor.


There is one small detail in Piyasheva's biography: Before working in the mayor's department she was Borovoi's assistant, and her husband - Boris Pinskner, also an economist - is Svyatoslav Fyodorov's deputy. The circle is closed.


The candidates all justify their hasty nomination by saying that they want to stop arbitrary rule in the city and install law and order. They have no clear answer for how they will do this, but the main thing is to seize power, then see what happens.


There are various ways that elections could be held. It's possible that early elections could be called for both mayor and city council simultaneously - if, of course, Yeltsin agrees.


It's possible that the Russian parliament, which has placed a moratorium on all elections until Dec. 1, will call for new elections when the moratorium expires. Luzhkov does not intend to give up power so easily. The City Council is in its death throes, it feels the end is near, and will hang on to power until the bitter end.


A Gordian knot has been formed, and it needs to be cut. If the elections do take place (our life is full of absurdities) the candidate's efforts in getting themselves nominated will not have been wasted. Their names will be in the air.


The people will vote, and once again will elect the wrong candidates. But where are the right ones?