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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov Dismisses 2 Top Officials

Mayor Yury Luzhkov has dismissed two senior city officials while moving closer to assembling his new government.

Luzhkov has fired Deputy Mayors Iosif Ordzhonikidze and Pyotr Aksenov, as well as Northern Administrative District Prefect Vladimir Obyedkov.

Luzhkov has denied that the dismissal orders came down from the Kremlin, and observers said he had managed to retain his control over the city, whether he was influenced by the Kremlin or not.

Luzhkov will sign the last orders for the new appointments Wednesday, Alexander Prokofyev, a senior City Hall official, told a news conference Monday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that Luzhkov did not consult President Vladimir Putin on the new appointments and dismissals.

Communist City Duma Deputy Vladimir Ulas said the Kremlin had let Luzhkov keep his team in order to secure the victory of United Russia at parliamentary elections in December and that of Putin's preferred successor in the March presidential vote.

"The Kremlin didn't dare introduce radical changes to Luzhkov's team," Ulas said. As for the dismissed deputies, he said, they could not play a "key" role in the upcoming election campaigns, so they did not interest the Kremlin and Luzhkov likely replaced them on his own initiative.

Yabloko City Duma Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin said Luzhkov could hardly have given up his "old friend" Ordzhonikidze voluntarily, as he had been working with Luzhkov since the early 1990s, Gazeta.ru reported.

Mitrokhin offered two possibilities for Aksyonov. He could have been dismissed in order to make the dismissal of Ordzhonikidze "less remarkable," or because he had controlled a sensitive sphere of communal services connected to reforms in Unified Energy System.

Aksenov was replaced with Pyotr Biryukov, who had previously been the prefect of the Southern Administrative District.

The reshuffle was based on a plan to streamline the work of the city's government and reduce the number of its staff, as laid out in a City Hall decree in March, Prokofyev said.

As part of the streamlining, the number of its branches will be reduced from 55 to 52, Prokofyev said.

A new department of external economic activities and international relations will absorb the committee previously overseen by Ordzhonikidze and will be headed by Georgy Muradov, former head of the international relations department, which will also to be absorbed by the new department.

Obyedkov was replaced by Yury Khardikov, head of Krasnodarenergo, an electricity provider in the Krasnodar region, Prokofyev said.