Yuri Luzhkov, who ruled Moscow for 18 years, said Thursday he would sue one of the Russian government’s key officials over his statements that Luzhkov presided over an era of “rampant corruption” is Russia’s capital city.
The announcement comes days after Russian investigators summoned the former mayor to court for questioning as part of a corruption inquiry into a $413 million loan from Russia’s fifth largest bank. Investigators allege that the official used the bank to fund property development projects, including those being run by his wife Yelena Baturina.
Luzhkov told Russian newspaper Izvestia that he intends to sue the Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin over statements he made Wednesday that Luzhkov and his aides fostered an “appalling level” of bribery and corruption.
“Responding to this claim, which appeared more than a year after my resignation, I am filing a lawsuit for defamation,” the 75 year old former mayor said, adding that “not a single Moscow government official” faced prosecution during his tenure as mayor.
“We live in a sick state where the law enforcement system is itself mired in corruption and where an objective judicial system is absent,” Luzhkov said.
Luzhkov said that the Kremlin was using bully tactics, initiating the investigation of him because of an interview he gave to Radio Liberty last week that was highly critical of the ruling United Russia Party, including Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Neither Luzhkov nor his wife have been charged with a crime, but the former official has been accused by critics of helping his wife, Yelena Baturina, Russia’s wealthiest woman, get rich by funneling government contracts to her construction company.