President Dmitry Medvedev has started a purge within the Russian Federation’s regional apparatus to eliminate the Putinists.

The first victim is the Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, for his daring criticism of the President in a column published in early September and for his ardent call in favor of Vladimir Putin’s re-election.
He was immediately targeted by a smear campaign orchestrated by the Kremlin on public television. Various programmes accused him of curruption and influence peddling to benefit his wife, Yelena Baturina, the wealthiest woman in the country. On Monday, a broadcast taking his defense was interrupted while it was on the air.

Pressed by President Medvedev to resign, Yury Luzhkov refused despite promises he would be offered new responsibilities and new jobs for his collaborators. He confidently travelled to Austria for the weekend and confirmed his official trips to Munich, Hanoi and Astana scheduled for October. Several figures from the cultural world came out in his support.
On Tuesday 28 September 2010, he was removed from his functions by presidential order on the sole pretext of "having lost Mr. Medvedev’s confidence".
In a 14-year period, M. Luzhkov, a very colorful figure, transformed the capital of the Russian Federation from a drab and depressive conglomeration into one of the most dynamic and prosperous cities on the face of the earth.

As Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov was an indispensable ally in preventing Mr. Putin’s own dismissal and possible arrest.

Continuing the purge, President Medvedev’s next targets should be regional governors Boris Gromov (Moscow), Dmitry Zelenin (Tver), Leonid Polezhayev (Omsk) and Viktor Kress (Tomsk), before going after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his government.

[Photo : Mr. Luzhkov’s latest appearance as Mayor of Moscow, on Monday during a conference sponsored by UNESCO.]