We’ve all heard the stories of Moscow’s anti-gay Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who’s been responsible for, year after year, denying gay rights marchers permits for parades and having them arrested when they foil his plans. He’s also the guy who’s on a campaign to ban condoms, insisting they are the propaganda of homosexuals. But now Yuri might’ve sank his own ship by doing the unthinkable: pissing off the Kremlin.
Yuri took his disdain for sitting
puppet President Dmitri Medvedev to the newspaper pages, the NYT reports, perhaps an even stupider move since the Kremlin operates so much of the media there.
In a recent article, Mr. Luzhkov appeared to criticize the president for indecisiveness, while seeming to call for his predecessor, Vladimir V. Putin, now prime minister, to return to the presidency. The article touched off the biggest political quarrel Russia has seen in nearly a decade, raising new speculation about the relationship between Russia’s two leaders. It has also prompted an all-out attack by the Kremlin-controlled news media against the mayor, which many analysts here say could presage the end of his 18-year reign. “He intended to try to push a wedge between Medvedev and Putin,” said Gleb O. Pavlovsky, a political consultant who advises the Kremlin. “This is already an intolerable situation for the federal center, so I think Luzhkov will have to leave.”
So what could become of Moscow’s proudly bigoted mayor, who’s run the town for nearly two decades as his own private playground?
This is Russian politics, a game of interpreting winks and gestures, of listening for murmurs in the dark corridors of power. It is an art that today differs little from the days when Kremlinologists guessed the fortune or failure of a Soviet leader by his place at the May Day parade. What is more or less certain is that Mr. Medvedev wants Mr. Luzhkov gone. When asked about the mayor in a closed meeting with Russian newspaper editors this summer, Mr. Medvedev shocked attendees by referring to the mayor with a vulgarism, a person at the meeting said. Since becoming president in 2008, Mr. Medvedev has eliminated most of the old regional bosses, usually by offering them other jobs or retirement deals, but Mr. Luzhkov is different.
And not that the Kremlin is the gay-friendliest place in the world, nor would their replacement for Mayor Luzhkov necessarily be more tolerant of LGBTs. But I do love the idea of this prick setting up his own downfall, orchestrated by the ultimate of inside baseball political machines: the Kremlin.