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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Duma Would Back Luzhkov Term

The head of the Moscow City Duma majority said Monday that deputies would support a new term for Mayor Yury Luzhkov if President Vladimir Putin nominated him for the post.

Vedomosti reported Monday that Luzhkov might seek the Kremlin's blessing to remain in power for another four years. The report, citing City Hall sources, said Luzhkov could make the request this week.

Luzhkov, 70, has indicated that he will not seek a fifth term after his current one expires in December, the same month as State Duma elections.

Officials in City Hall and the Kremlin said they had no information that Luzhkov planned to ask Putin for his blessing.

Gubernatorial elections were scrapped two years ago in favor of a system in which the president picks candidates who are then approved by local legislatures. Moscow's mayor is also a governor.

Andrei Metelsky, head of the United Russia faction that controls 28 of the 35 seats in the City Duma, said he and his fellow deputies would unanimously back Luzhkov for a new term.

"In the 2005 City Duma elections, one of United Russia's slogans said we would propose Luzhkov as a mayoral candidate in 2007," Metelsky said. "The faction and the party's Moscow branch have not gone back on their words."

Metelsky said he could not envision any other candidate being so effective in governing the city.

In 1992, then-President Boris Yeltsin appointed Luzhkov as mayor of Moscow. Since then, he has thrice been elected with overwhelming support from voters.

Removing a popular and capable manager like Luzhkov before State Duma and presidential elections could destabilize the situation in Moscow and rob the Kremlin of votes in the country's most populous region, political analysts said.

"Also, if one Kremlin clan got a hold of Moscow, this would destroy the balance among the clans," said Alexei Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies.

The idea to keep Luzhkov for another term might in fact originate from the Kremlin, which is increasingly risk-averse ahead of elections, he said.

Rostislav Turovsky, an analyst with the Agency for Regional Studies, said Luzhkov needed to hurry up in asking Putin to nominate him for another term, as the increasingly powerful A Just Russia has decided to focus its Moscow campaign on criticizing municipal authorities. A Just Russia is a second pro-Kremlin party, created last year.

Last week, several residents of Moscow's district of Yuzhnoye Butovo -- who have been fighting a fierce legal battle with City Hall over the demolition of their houses and forced resettlement -- joined the ranks of A Just Russia.

It was not clear Monday when Luzhkov might meet Putin. The Kremlin's press service could not confirm whether Putin planned to meet with Luzhkov in the coming days.

The presidential envoy's office in the Central Federal District, which will help select a candidate for Moscow, said it could not immediately comment.