Mayor finally returns to Moscow amid smog crisis: official
Moscow's Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, widely ridiculed for refusing to return to the city amid its worst ever smog crisis, is to end his absence to deal with the situation on the spot, officials said Sunday.
Luzhkov would return to the capital in the course of Sunday, his deputy Vladimir Resin said, explaining the 73-year-old mayor's absence from the city as due to treatment for a sports injury.
Some Russian media have simply said that the mayor has been on holiday.
"The mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov has interrupted his treatment for a sports injury and today is returning to Moscow," Resin told the Interfax news agency.
It is not clear where Luzhkov has been for the last days, while the city has been blanketed in smog from the worst wildfires on record in Russia.
His last high-profile public appearance was two weeks ago in the balmy Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, in Ukraine, a well-known resort area.
His press spokesman Sergei Tsoi had told news website lifenews.ru last week that there was "no crisis situation in Moscow" and the "source of all problems is in the Moscow region and other regions".
Tsoi later made clear that strict instructions had been given to ensure the health of Muscovites dealing with the worst smog in living memory and that Luzhkov was in constant contact with his local government.
Luzhkov, who has served as Moscow mayor for almost two decades, is one of Russia's longest-lasting officials, but has come under increasing pressure over the lasts month as the Kremlin reshuffles powerful regional bosses.
© 2010 AFP