Embattled Moscow mayor vows to sue Russia television

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The embattled Moscow mayor will sue Russia's top television channels, his government said on Monday in a move designed to counter an all-out media war unleashed against the city's long-serving chief.

Russia's top television 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 billionaire wife, Yelena Baturina.

Analysts say the unprecedented mass media expose carried by the country's state-controlled channels appears 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 before has the criticism of Moscow's mayor been so intense.

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 runup 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.

© 2010 AFP

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