City Prosecutor From Luzhkov Era to Leave

A prosecutor who monitors prisons for the Prosecutor General's Office and has a reputation for fighting corruption has been tapped to take the helm of the Moscow City Prosecutor's Office from a Yury Luzhkov-era heavyweight.

The City Duma is to vote Thursday on replacing Yury Syomin, 61, with Sergei Kudeneyev, 50.

A spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office, Marina Gridnyova, said the shuffle is a "planned staff rotation," RIA-Novosti reported. Syomin, in office since 2006, will take a senior post with the anti-corruption department in the Prosecutor General's Office, she said.

Syomin was known as a hard-nosed prosecutor under Luzhkov, who President Dmitry Medvedev fired for "loss of confidence" in September. He took a hard line on the political opposition, calling last year to open cases against activists for simply voicing plans to stage unsanctioned rallies.

"He has never responded to any of our complaints about violations," Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin said by telephone.

Syomin's deputy, Alexander Kozlov, has been implicated in media reports in a turf war between the Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee, which has accused prosecutors, mostly from the Moscow region, of providing protection to an illegal gambling ring in exchange for perks. The Prosecutor General's Office has not commented on any possible link between the case and Syomin's removal.

Before becoming the chief of the prison monitoring department at the Prosecutor General's Office, Kudeneyev headed regional prosecutor's offices in the Jewish autonomous region, the republic of Mordovia and the Oryol region.

Kudeneyev made an impact with his anti-corruption policies during his brief stint in Oryol in 2005, former Oryol Deputy Mayor Vasily Ikonnikov said by telephone.

"He started this process rather actively, and he didn't toe the governor's line," Ikonnikov said of Kudeneyev's anti-corruption efforts.

Kudeneyev pushed for the prosecution of senior members of the city administration who were accused of selling municipal land to private buyers, said Ikonnikov, who heads the local branch of the Communist Party.

Kudeneyev also shone the spotlight on the dismal treatment of ill inmates, reporting in February that the deaths of prisoners over health problems had increased 6 percent last year.

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