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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Unimpressed by Kiriyenko's Moscow Bid

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov delivered a verbal slap Monday to former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, saying he would have little chance if he challenged Luzhkov in the next mayoral election.

Kiriyenko has said he might run for mayor and has been highly critical of Luzhkov in the past few days, saying among other things that nothing can get done in the city "without a bribe."

The desire to run for office "is a healthy thing," Luzhkov said after attending a conference of his political movement Otechestvo, or Fatherland, on Monday at a resort outside Moscow.

"Let him take part in the election. He is a very favorable opponent for me because he is so weak," said the mayor, who is a likely contender to succeed President Boris Yeltsin in 2000.

Kiriyenko, who has lived most of his life in Nizhny Novgorod, served as prime minister for five months last year. He was fired by President Boris Yeltsin after the August financial collapse, in which the government defaulted on some of its debts.

Kiriyenko's interest in running for mayor is seen by many as a move by the Kremlin against Luzhkov, who has been feuding with the president and his administration.

Kiriyenko has attacked Luzhkov for trying to move up the mayoral vote to December, seen as an attempt to help him in his presidential plans. A Moscow City Duma deputy introduced a bill last month to move the poll from next June, saying it was to save money.

But political analysts say Luzhkov would benefit from running his mayoral campaign at the same time as the parliamentary elections in December, when Fatherland is expected to be a major contender. Election law would bar Luzhkov from campaigning if he isn't on the ballot himself.

"I appeal to the mayor of Moscow and the Moscow City Duma deputies - the mayoral elections should not be rescheduled," Kiriyenko said at a news conference Monday.

"As soon as we create a precedent, every politician will get a chance to reschedule the election for his own convenience," he said.

Kiriyenko said he will run for mayor if the city goes ahead and moves the vote. Analysts say that Kiriyenko would probably lose to Luzhkov, who was elected with more than 90 percent of the vote in 1996. But a campaign would give Kiriyenko and his backers a platform from which to criticize Luzhkov and try to damage him in the eyes of the public.

Officials at Fatherland headquarters said the Moscow mayor was more concerned with elections to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

Artur Chilingarov, deputy speaker of the Duma and a top Fatherland official, said the movement was still seeking an alliance with former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Luzhkov sharply criticized Primakov's dismissal last month by Yeltsin.

Primakov "treats us with sympathy," Chilingarov said Monday. He said he had attended the meeting between Luzhkov and Primakov, but the former prime minister had not yet agreed to run for the Duma on the Fatherland list.