Ex-Moscow mayor sends daughters away for 'safety'

7th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Yury Luzhkov, sensationally fired as Moscow's mayor in September, has sent his daughters to live and study in London as he fears for their safety should they remain in Russia, a report said on Sunday.

"We have grounds, very serious grounds to worry about their safety," Luzhkov told The Sunday Telegraph in an interview. "We are afraid to leave them here in Russia."

President Dmitry Medvedev fired Luzhkov on September 28, dramatically ending an 18-year rule that transformed the Russian capital but also attracted bitter controversy.

The sacking -- one of Medvedev's boldest moves since coming to power in 2008 -- came after Luzhkov was lambasted by the Kremlin for his aloof handling of the summer wildfire crisis that blanketed Moscow in smog.

The ex-mayor has long been dogged by corruption allegations over the business activities of his wife, construction billionaire Yelena Baturina, and has also been criticised by conservationists for destroying Moscow's historic centre.

Luzhkov told the British newspaper that he and his wife had decided to send their daughters, Elena, 18, and Olga, 16, to London for up to six years to study English and enroll at an undisclosed university.

He added that he had no plans to leave Russia himself.

"I am a Muscovite ... I am a patriot of my country and it will be difficult to get rid of me. Why should I leave? Especially since it could be a gift for those in power who hate me."

A close aide of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hand-picked by the Kremlin is Russia's new mayor. Sergei Sobyanin has vowed to crack down on the corruption that critics allege blossomed under his powerful predecessor.

© 2010 AFP

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