New Moscow mayor easy choice for Medvedev: experts

11:23, October 10, 2010      

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Choosing one of the four candidates nominated for the vacant Moscow mayor post would not be hard for President Dmitry Medvedev, some experts told Xinhua Saturday.

Earlier in the day, the ruling United Russia party announced a list of candidates comprising Transport Minister Igor Levitin, Deputy Prime Minister and head of the government secretariat Sergei Sobyanin, Governor of Nizhny Novgorod region Valery Shantsev and First Deputy Mayor of Moscow Lyudmila Shvetsova.

"These four break up visibly into two unequal pairs: two heavyweights, Sobyanin and Shantsev, and two second-line officials, Levitin and Shvetsova," Dmitry Orlov, Director of Moscow's Agency for Political and Economic Communications, told Xinhua in an interview.

"Their differences in political influence are so palpable that President Medvedev would hardly hesitate for long," the expert said.

Orlov's view was echoed by another expert, Moscow-based political analyst Leonid Sedov.

"Igor Levitin and Lyudmila Shvetsova are the people nobody expected to hear in this regard," he told Xinhua.

However, both experts agreed that Levitin and Shvetsova were not mere extras.

Moscow suffered from transportation clogging, so Levitin could be instrumental in resolving infrastructure shortcomings, while Shvetsova was well-rooted in the Russian capital's social problems, Orlov said.

"The visible disparity between the candidates might mean that the president would finally decide to transform the capital's leadership into a two-head tandem, like that on the federal level," he said.

"The political heavyweight then will be a kind of city's 'president,' and one from the second pair will play the role of a 'prime minister,'" he continued.

Sedov also suggested that the inclusion of Levitin and Shvetsova might be at Medvedev's insistence.

"If so, it's natural to suppose that one of them will be confirmed in the mayor's office," said Sedov, adding that such inclusion "does not look like somebody's whim."

"Levitin as a technology savvy (politician) is a natural supporter of Medvedev's modernization efforts. Shevtsova, in turn, harmoniously meets the president's concerns about social welfare of the Russian people," Sedov said.

The list of candidates has much more important implications, though, according to Orlov.

"The names offered put the end to the speculations that there are some discords between President Medvedev and Prime Minister (Vladimir) Putin. None of the four could be suspected of having preferences toward one or the other," Orlov said.

"So Medvedev will have to choose now between personalities and not between political affiliations. This is a sort of gift the United Russia party presented to him, thus making his task much easier," he said.

Medvedev's decision will be announced within 10 days in accordance with Russian law.

After 18 years in office, former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov was sacked by Medvedev on Sept. 28, citing a loss of confidence. Vladimir Resin is the acting mayor.

Source: Xinhua


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