Embattled Moscow mayor, wife to sue Russia television

13th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The embattled Moscow mayor and his billionaire wife said on Monday they would sue Russia's top television channels, to counter an all-out media war unleashed against the city's long-serving chief.

The channels late last week aired prime-time documentaries about Yury Luzhkov, criticising his track record including his failure to tackle Moscow's bumper-to-bumper-traffic, and business activities of his wife, Yelena Baturina.

Analysts say the unprecedented mass media exposes carried by the country's state-controlled channels appear to be a Kremlin-choreographed attempt to drive Luzhkov from power.

"It is pointless to list all the insinuations that have been voiced," the Moscow government said in a statement posted on its website, saying all the "negative" radio and television reports were groundless.

"The mayor and the government of Moscow will file appropriate defamation suits on each of those accounts."

Critics have long accused the mayor of favoring his wife's construction company Inteko but never have the attacks on him been so intense.

Inteko said Monday it was also preparing to sue several federal channels.

"Appropriate suits are already being prepared," company spokesman Gennady Terebkov told AFP.

"When obvious lies are said about the company we, in accordance with Russian legislation, turn to court."

Observers say unhappiness with Luzhkov reached boiling point last week as the Kremlin snapped at his apparent attempts to create a rift between President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the run-up to 2012 polls.

Medvedev has talked of a need to recruit a new generation of political leaders and Russian television aired an expose of the leader of oil-rich Bashkortostan region, Murtaza Rakhimov, just days before he stepped down.

Kommersant newspaper, citing sources at state-controlled channel NTV, said it had received an order to cobble together an expose of the controversial mayor last Wednesday and had just a day to shoot and edit the film.

© 2010 AFP

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