Ousted Moscow mayor confirms Latvian residency bid
Moscow's ousted mayor Yury Luzhkov confirmed Monday that he had applied for a residency permit in Latvia, but denied that he had any plans to leave Russia for good.
The former powerful bureaucrat told Russia's Interfax news agency that he was applying for residency in the ex-Soviet republic "to have freedom of movement."
But "this does not mean that I am moving to Latvia," Luzhkov added. "I will never leave my motherland, if it does not give up on me first."
Luzhkov became mayor of Moscow in 1992 and soon established himself as one of Russia's most powerful regional bosses.
But he lost a political tug of war with the Kremlin and was fired by President Dmitry Medvedev in September.
Latvian Interior Minister Linda Murniece said Monday that the Baltic nation was likely to reject the controversial figure's request.
"My opinion is that Yury Luzhkov doesn't deserve a residence permit in Latvia because his attitude has always been very negative towards our country," Murniece told reporters.
Luzhkov applied under a residence-for-investment law for non-European Union citizens, brought in last year to help revive Latvia's slump-struck economy.
Because Latvia is an EU member, its legal residents can travel easily throughout the 27-nation bloc and Europe's visa-free Schengen zone.
Individuals who invest at least 25,000 lats (36,000 euros, $47,550) in a Latvia-based business can apply.
According to Latvian media reports, Luzhkov invested that sum in the Riga-based bank Rietumu Banka. The bank told AFP it had no immediate comment.
© 2011 AFP