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Kremlin Says Moscow Mayor's Absence During Fires Unhelpful

Vladimir Putin (left) and Yury Luzhkov pledged to focus on reconstruction. (file photo)
Russian news agencies have cited a "source in the Kremlin administration" as criticizing Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov for his absence from the Russian capital as fires ravaged the surrounding region.

"The mayor's absence obviously was not helpful in taking the necessary decisions on time, without delays," the source was quoted as saying.

The same source noted it was "of course good" that Luzhkov "returned from holiday and took up his responsibilities."

Luzhkov and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin held a joint news conference in Moscow today in which Luzhkov promised to focus on reconstruction.

"We are pledging to allocate part of our reserve fund to [rebuilding] facilities, which you have chosen, in Ryazan Oblast and Voronezh Oblast because they need our help," Luzhkov said. "We're talking primarily about social-infrastructure facilities."

Later, the Russian news agency Interfax quoted the head of the Effective Politics Foundation, Gleb Pavlovsky, as saying the obvious facts were that "Luzhkov delayed cutting short his vacation, did not properly assess the political situation, did not grasp the seriousness and danger of the situation in Moscow."

compiled from agency reports