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Mitvol Fired as Luzhkov Starts New Job


Acting Mayor Vladimir Resin on Tuesday fired Oleg Mitvol, the outspoken prefect of the city's Northern Administrative District, in a manner that echoed Mayor Yury Luzhkov's dismissal exactly a week earlier.

Luzhkov, meanwhile, was given a new job as a dean at International University in Moscow, which is headed by Gavriil Popov, his predecessor as mayor from 1990 to 1992.

In the morning, Mitvol denied reports that he would resign, and then City Hall published Resin's decree stripping the prefect of his duties. Mitvol later called the dismissal "completely illegal."

Resin said Mitvol's governing style was not supported by residents and that his dismissal was legal, Interfax reported. The decree was dated Monday, according to a copy posted on Komsomolskaya Pravda's web site.

Mitvol argued that he would only follow orders from the next mayor and that he could not be fired while on sick leave.

He said in interviews Tuesday that he suffered from a fever and high blood pressure and would not return to work this week.

On Monday night, he published a sick notice and a photo of medicine for high blood pressure on his Twitter blog.

Russian law does not permit the dismissal of employees while on sick leave.

But City Hall suggested that Mitvol was feigning his illness. "How can he give multiple interviews but cannot work for his citizens' well-being?" an unidentified City Hall official told Interfax.

Mitvol's biography was immediately removed from the prefecture's web site Tuesday.

Mitvol did not answer repeated calls to his cell phone Tuesday. But a report on the Lifenews.ru portal suggested that he was not resting at home but had visited his former boss Luzhkov on his first day at work at International University.

"I just talked to Yury Luzhkov in this office," he was quoted as saying.

Mitvol posted a photo of the office, showing a humble desk, on Twitter. It was his only Twitter update after Resin's decree became public.

Mitvol, a former deputy head of the Federal Natural Resources Agency, made headlines for initiating environmental investigations into foreign companies' work in the energy sector that resulted in state-owned companies taking control of the projects.

He resigned amid a spat with the agency's leadership and briefly headed an environmental group in the Moscow region.

Appointed prefect by Luzhkov in July 2009, Mitvol was an outspoken politician rather than an administrator as might be expected in the job.

In recent months, he was embroiled in a bizarre and sometimes entertaining conflict with Nashi, the pro-Kremlin youth group.

On Monday, Mitvol accused Nashi of attempting to remove him from office after unknown assailants threw ink-filled condoms at his office.

On Tuesday, Nashi spokeswoman Kristina Potupchik said Mitvol's sacking confirmed that he was not fit for the job.

The conflict between Mitvol and Nashi flared up when Mitvol evicted the group from its headquarters, saying the space was needed for a kindergarten. The group responded by accusing Mitvol of tolerating brothels in his district.

Analysts said Luzhkov had brought Mitvol into City Hall and his ouster was logical after his patron lost power. "Resin needs to demonstrate good relations with the Kremlin," said Alexei Makarkin, an analyst with the Center for Political Technologies.

Meanwhile, Luzhkov said he hoped to use his 18 years of experience as mayor in his new university job.

"I have not seen any students yet, but I congratulated the staff that they have a new dean," Luzhkov, clad in a black leather jacket and his trademark flat cap, said in an interview published on Lifenews.ru.

Luzhkov was appointed dean of the faculty for big city management, which itself was set up on his initiative in 2002, the university said on its web site.

In another sign of a shuffle after Luzhkov's ouster, TV Center, the television station controlled by City Hall, said it would no longer air the "Moment of Truth" show hosted by journalist Andrei Karaulov.

Ties with Karaulov's production company were severed "because of persistent gross violations of journalistic ethics," the station said in a statement on its web site.

Last week, TV Center canceled a report by Karaulov in which he defended Luzhkov against criticism on state-controlled national television.

Meanwhile, investigators officially charged former Deputy Mayor Alexander Ryabinin with corruption. Ryabinin, who was dismissed by Resin last week, was charged with bribe taking, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

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