Exiled Russian Dissident Yury Luzhkov Condemns Putin’s Corrupt, Stalinist Regime

This is a headline in a Western newspaper you might be reading in the not-too-distant future.

Back in October 8th, ten days after Luzhkov’s dismissal from the Moscow mayoralty by Medvedev, I predicted that “within the next 3 months Luzhkov is going to get hit with corruption charges and will either go on trial or seek political asylum in the West”. Today news comes that the corrupt, gay-bashing former Mayor turned up to the British Embassy in Moscow to apply for a visa.

Figures linked to Luzhkov have variously denied these as rumors (such as a spokesman for the construction firm Inteko owned by Luzhkov’s wife Baturina) or claimed he only wanted to visit family in the UK (Iosif Kobzon, a singer and Luzhkov’s friend). But that is only to be expected.

Corruption investigations against the former Mayor’s circle are stepping up, and Luzhkov certainly hasn’t helped himself by portraying his ouster as evidence of the “return of Stalinism” and censorship and repression. (Of course, the city’s corruption-reporting journalists might beg to differ).

If Luzhkov had gone quietly, no doubt the Kremlin would have left him in peace, to enjoy Baturina’s ill-gotten wealth. However, his decision to challenge the Kremlin made this impossible. He might have been unpopular when dismissed, but absence makes the heart grow fonder, and he could prove to be far more of an inconvenience to the Kremlin as an independent maverick than the sorry riffraff that is the current Russian liberal opposition. Why tolerate him, when there would be no problems with charging and convicting him for corruption? There wouldn’t even be any need to rig the courts!

We are seeing yet another beginning of an old theme. Corrupt Russian oligarch (e.g. Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky) or corrupt politician (e.g. Kasyanov) is kicked out of power, and lashes out at the Kremlin for its “authoritarianism” in daring to do so. In the process, they begin to re-brand themselves as born-again liberal democrats and acquire street cred with the liberal opposition and their foreign sponsors.

Whether Luzhkov continues the fight from a courtroom or a London mansion, the Western media is now free to present it as Kremlin persecution of “political dissidence”, further confirming Russia’s (never-ending) slide into authoritarian darkness. No more mention will be made of Luzhkov’s political repression through the libel laws, nor of his Stalinophilia, nor of his homophobia, nor of the rigged contracts and disregard to Moscow’s architectural heritage that made his wife a billionaire. The past will be erased and Putin found to have been responsible for it all along.

This latest development likely just confirms that Luzhkov will opt for London. It’s far safer and more comfortable. As a bonus, he won’t even be too lonely there. Berezovsky is awaiting his arrival, further noting that Luzhkov’s only choice for escaping prison and safeguarding his property is to ask for political asylum in Britain. Listen to him – he’s the expert on this.

UPDATE 10/25: Assuming Luzhkov manages to leave Russia before he is arrested, he appears well set for a pretty comfortable retirement in Britain. His wife is already there, and the couple are suspected of having bought substantial properties in London under a front company. “Last year, [the British] press wrote about Elena Baturina’s purchase … of the largest 18th century residence in London, second only to Buckingham Palace. It has 65 rooms, a ballroom, and more than 3,500 square meters.”

A little Googling shows that the palace is Highgate’s West Hill (photo above). I’m sure the Luzhkovs will make a fine and most fitting addition to the ranks of the British glitterati.

EDIT: This article has been translated into Russian at Inosmi.Ru (Находящийся в изгнании российский диссидент Юрий Лужков осуждает коррумпированный сталинистский режим Путина).


  1. These guys loved picketing Luzhkov when he was Mayor:


    They even received international attention for their protests in Moscow. I sure hope Andy Thayer shows up in London with picketers.

    • Hope he has fun with the LGBT groups and his other closet skeletons in London.
      Though it shouldn’t be too bad. When you have $1bn, you can buy out even developed country (British) courts with ease.

  2. I think if the kremlin hasn’t been destabilized by billionaire Berezovsky with all the resources possible including former secret service personell such as Litvinenko and his sympathizers then the kremlin won’t be losing any sleep worrying about Luzkhov’s activities, likely the Russian public will just see another Yelstin era self-enriching high-flyer groaning to the vehemently russophobic western media about the evilness of the kremlin which of course will detach him further from the hearts and minds of Russians rendering any attempt at galvanizing Russians against their enthusiastically elected government – ineffective.

    • (1) Luzhkov is also a billionaire. In fact, Baturina (est. $1bn) is likely richer than Berezovsky (est. $600mn). As for Litvinenko, relatively speaking he was a nobody.
      (2) He’d built up a good image of himself as an effective, paternalistic governor who “made” Moscow Russia’s most prosperous city. (It always was, and would have probably done even better without Luzhkov, but who cares?).
      (3) His approval rating is about 30-40%, far higher than any other liberal oppositioner. In Moscow itself it’s probably closer to 50%. And that’s *after* the “Delo w Kepke” hit films.
      (4) I’m not saying that set loose he can serious threaten Russia’s stability, since neither the media nor the power structures would support him. But today he’s clearly a bigger and nastier thorn than Berezovsky to the Russian state.

  3. I’m a fan of Luzhkov – as most Muscovites.
    Luzhkov is real Russian Patriot and a supporter of a True Democracy, and elections.
    That elections mean democracy – rather than homosexuals and other American crap.
    Homosexuality – American crap, not democracy.
    Elections – real democracy.
    Medvedev Russia’s enemy, the US doll, weak and useless gossip and vicious enemy of Elections.
    Medvedev will soon give a big kick to .
    Medvedev did not need Russia – he is going to let Peterburg and drowned in the Neva River.
    Let’s Take Back the Election, let’s Take Back Democracy.
    Down with Feudalism.
    Down “EDRO”.
    “EDRO” sucks – Luzhkov and Moscow FOREVER

    • Chrisius Dossius Optimus Maximus says:

      50% approval rating does not translate into most Muscovites being a fan of Luzhkov.

      • Moscow region have more territory than Switzerland.
        Moscow region has actually more 25 million people.
        In the future, when we (with peace way or war way) conquer ELECTIONS – they are 12-18 million Voters
        Luzhkov has IMHO 6-9 million solid supporters.
        Many Muscovites laugh weakling Medvedev – everyone hates homosexuals.

        • OK, we got it that you like Luzhkov and dislike LGBT-citizens.

          I would say most of Luzhkov’s supporters are the passive type, presumably because it’s truly weird to want to go on a “war way” for a corrupt billionaire.

          But if your assessment is the more accurate one, that’s just all the more reason for the Kremlin to destroy him if he stays in Russia.

  4. Anatoly: I love the artwork at the beginning of your post. Not familiar with that painting. Looks like a convocation of boyars. Something from the Tretyakov gallery?
    I really begrudge Luzhkov that billion bucks. If only there were a way for Russian state to get it back from him and spend it on something worthwhile. Like fixing the roads!

    • I got it from Austere Insomniac here. It looks familiar, but I can’t recall when or whom.

      Agreed on the sentiment, but Luzhkov’s billion are ultimately a just a drop in the river. IMO, the entire socio-economic structure is flawed. A society with collectivist traditions, an industrial base largely developed by the state, and a fairly homogeneous population (outside the South Caucasus), shouldn’t have 62 billionaires and a Gini index of 41.

  5. solar sun says:

    Terrorists, Oligarchs and criminals and any ousted puppet regime they have installed in foreign countries who call London home.

    Off course he will go to London that’s were Russia’s exiled puppets go.

    He may be corrupt but he is not in the same traitorous league as Berezovsky and Khoderkovsky and like the other Oligarchs who have literally blood on there hands who are linked to British intelligence and big business like BP.

    I agree with Lucky Medvedev is Gorbachev 2.0 taking advice and following policy from these same Soros/London linked shock therapy advisors who started being trained in London under Gorbachev who is doing everything possible to sabotage Russia worst of which is this BRIC trap but also eliminating Belarus as an ally, selling out oil interests in Iran by withholding sale of the S-300 Air Defense System and now eliminating Putin’s allies.

    This guy has got to go especially before 2012 when Brzezinski and the US/NATO launch there biggest covert operation against Russia just in time for Palin to become President.

    If anyone has any doubts what interests Medvedev is representing Brzezinski gives his approval of Medvedev. Nuff said.


    Actually I think it would be good if Luzhkov did start a genuine independent political party with exiles of Putin’s United Russia party and other nationalist groups.

    • Yep, that’s modern Britain for you. Always accommodating, as long as your bank balance is healthy we can ignore your previous background and activities. Fucking parasites.

  6. I kind of almost agree with Lucky and solar sun, at least some of their points. I agree with them about Gorbachov, Soros, Belorussia, Iran, among others. Don’t agree about BRIC, I think BRIC is good for Russia and helps to counter-balance U.S. imperialism. Also don’t agree about Luzhkov being a great guy or future leader. Also am saddened about Lucky’s homophobia. Lucky: are you the same person who used to comment as “Lucky Barker”? If so, I saw one of your comments on a different forum a while back, it was one of the best one-liners I ever saw, it was something to the effect that U.S. State Department should purchase rotting corpse of Yeltsin and do business with it, since they can’t tolerate dealing with Putin. Comment was perfect and made me laugh. Anyhow, still saddened by negative and unkind attitudes towards homosexuals. Please re-consider. Gay people can be good Russian patriots and serve their country just the same as straight people.

  7. Ahhh; Anatoly – if I had a ruble for every Russia-watcher who shrieked about what a total shit Luzhkov was during the Moscow fires, and then eulogized him after he got the can tied to his ass, I could almost afford a pack of cigarettes. I’m delighted to see you’re not among them. You are absolutely correct that Luzhkov was offered a variety of options that would have seen him bow out gracefully, of his own volition, without making it obvious that he was being fired. Drunk with a sense of his own importance (or maybe just drunk), he decided to force the issue. As the popular saying goes, don’t let your mouth get your face in trouble, Yury.

    Once again I’m impressed by your gift for forecasting, and being right – something I just finished citing you for on my own blog. Great piece.

  8. I would have loved to comment on the Andrew Osborne piece you referenced above, but even though I registered with the Telegraph, there’s no accessible comment window – I guess you have to be a subscriber. I particularly wanted to tell him how fascinating I find the differences between Russia and the west; one of which, apparently , is that the Russian calendar has 31 days in every month. This must be so, if the protesters have been trying to be heard for the last 11 months.

    Hundreds, eh? That’s pretty impressive, in a city of 10 and a half million. You go, Boris!

  9. Call me a cynic, but I suspect the same people who shit on Luzhkov during the fiery summer, who claimed they hated him because he was a bad mayor, in reality only hated him because they thought he was a card-carrying member of the Putin-Medvedev inner circle. If he had been equally bad mayor but political oppositionist, they would have loved him dearly, even during the summer. Then turned out reality was a bit more complex, Luzhkov was a disliked oligarch with a lot of power, whom the “establishment” was finally able to dislodge. So now that the “liberasti” see Luzhkov was not a beloved friend of Putin’s after all, they now must do do a triple back-flip and start lionizing him. I just read in the paper this morning that Medvedev’s popularity rating has risen to almost-Putin levels since he sacked Luzhkov. Since the days of Prince Kurbsky, Russian people will always approve of exiling irritating oligarchs. Also lesson for all of us: Just because somebody is in office, doesn’t necessarily mean they are part of “inner circle”. It is harder than we think to dislodge a powerful man. Even an autocrat like Tsar Ivan IV sometimes had problems getting rid of his enemies; and took him a lot of plotting and long time to plan. Putin-Medvedev being very far from all-powerful monarchs, let us give them credit for finally finding a way to exile this jerk! Only wish they could have found a way to relieve him of his ill-gotten cash.