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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Suggests Presidents Retire as Life Senators

Showing a desire to smooth his rocky relationship with the Kremlin, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov suggested Tuesday that all retiring Russian presidents be given life membership in the upper house of parliament.

It would then cease to be an issue what the president does when leaving office, Luzhkov was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Luzhkov wants to succeed President Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin, and his declaration was seen as a shrewd political move designed to assure the ailing president and his inner circle of their personal safety, and financial security, once Yeltsin leaves office. Most of the latest political perturbations have been attributed to the desperate attempts of Yeltsin's inner circle and their financial backers to remain in power after his term ends in June 2000.

As a member of parliament, Yeltsin would have immunity from prosecution.

"Our political culture provides for the prosecution of a leader who has left his reins of power," said Leonid Sedov, political analyst with the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion, or VTsIOM. "Luzhkov wants to show that he is no populist avenger and that he won't go around fulfilling the popular mandate for revenge if he comes to power. "

Luzhkov was Yeltsin's solid supporter during the 1996 presidential campaign, but relations have been stormy in recent years. Since Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov was fired May 12, Luzhkov has appeared to be the Kremlin's political enemy No.1.

Last week, the animosity seemed to escalate when former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko announced he would try to unseat Luzhkov as Moscow mayor - a move largely seen as being promoted by the Kremlin.

By proposing to give retired presidents greater security, Luzhkov likely was attempting to ease the hostility.

The upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, is comprised of the chief administrators and legislative leaders of Russia's 89 regions and national republics. They receive no salary as parliament members, but they have their expenses covered.