On September 17, 2010, the head of your administration, S. E. Naryshkin, invited me to the Kremlin and informed me that he had been instructed by you to discuss with me the matter of my dismissal as mayor of the city of Moscow.
I, naturally, asked what bases there were for terminating my authority early. The response I heard was: "loss of confidence." When I asked what this loss of confidence was based on, I received no answer. After a brief, but unsubstantial conversation, I was asked to submit a resignation "at my own request" and to then "leave quietly." But if that does not happen, then I would be dismissed by an order from the president with the above-indicated justification. I was given "until tomorrow" to think it over, but the next day – apparently having understood that I would not agree, I was offered a week to think, especially since it coincided with my previously planned vacation.
The week that was given to me for analysis gave me the opportunity to formulate a number of questions that have been bothering not only me.
First, about democracy in the country, about which you spoke so passionately at the Yaroslavl forum.
The first manifestations of democracy I felt on myself when I gave an honest answer to Mr. [Vladimir] Pozner on his television program regarding the direct election of the governors and the mayors of Moscow and St. Petersburg. That answer I still consider to be correct -- free elections should be restored. Literally on the next day, you announced: "Anyone who does not agree can leave."
I took my letter of resignation to you, but you did not accept it or read it. And I did not just speak of my resignation there. Perhaps the most important thing in that letter was the statement that our country has lived in fear of expressing its opinions since 1937. If the leadership of the country with such statements bolsters that fear, if in our State Duma they say that parliament is not a place for discussion, then it would be easy to move to a situation where there is only one leader in the country whose word is "etched in granite" and who must be followed in everything without contradiction. How is this to be reconciled with your calls for "the development of democracy"?
And one more statement that you made during the Yaroslavl forum on democracy: "Whoever does not agree can go into the opposition." This is reminiscent of the already timeless statement that "whoever is not with us is against us." Does this mean that you think that anyone who does not agree with your statement that pensioners should be sold bread made of another kind of flour should automatically go into the opposition?
The informational terrorism directed toward the mayor of Moscow is also worrisome. I am not speaking here about "Luzhkov." You need another mayor of Moscow, one who is "yours." Luzhkov is independent and not convenient. You need to prepare in advance for major elections and it is better to install someone else. That is understandable.
In order to do this, according to an order from the Kremlin, an unprecedented campaign was launched to discredit the mayor of Moscow. Its scale went so far that the great [opera singer and widow of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich] Galina Vishnevskaya compared the campaign to what was waged during Soviet times against Mstislav Rostropovich and herself! I don't want to bring up any more historical analogies. Although there are some.
The pretext for the attack were articles published in "Moskovsky komsomolets" and "Rossiiskaya gazeta." I will tell you honestly that the article printed under my name in "Moskovsky komsomolets" was not written by me. But I agree with it. Should a mayor be persecuted for agreeing with an article?
The article in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" was written by me. Its background is simple: Your administration asked me, as a manager, to evaluate the conflict regarding the highway through the Khimki Forest. At first, I refused. It wasn't my topic -- the highway is in Moscow Oblast. But, giving in to persuasion, I published my opinion as a specialist in urban planning. The reaction it produced is well known.
The goal was set: get rid of him. The pretext was found. Get to work!
It is all like in the army. The method is well known. Public disgrace. By any means, including financial. The cover: "an unnamed source in the administration." The object of the operation: the public. The ultimate goal: to force the mayor under the pressure of brutal persecution by the state-controlled media to voluntarily resign or to fire him for lack of confidence, having properly shaped public opinion.
Mr. President, the public does not agree with you. First, the "unnamed source in the Kremlin." This has already become a foul-smelling phrase. All the same, the campaign that unfolded in the press is attributed to you. It is possible that you did not give a direct order, but you knew about it and allowed it. That, in the final analysis, is the main thing.
I repeat: The public does not agree. There is not a single public or professional organization in Moscow that would not condemn this unworthy media campaign and support the mayor.
I am grateful to the Muscovites, who have defended their mayor. But believe me when I say that to a large extent the powerful protests of Muscovites (and not only Muscovites) is not connected with the personality of the mayor, but is a reaction against the impermissibility of such dirty work and of attempts to make fools of the public. The scandalous stage of this war came with the refusal to air the program "Moment Of Truth" on TV-Tsentr in defense of the mayor of Moscow, which after the Kremlin's ban became world famous. This is censorship, plain and simple! If this is your idea of democracy, then it is not clear where was the truth: at the Yaroslavl forum or in real life?
Now, about the situation.
Your administration, with your knowledge or without, through its actions has brought the political situation to a dead end. All sorts of "Nemtsovs" and other "eternal dissenters" have been given an excellent chance to shout: "Mr. President, if you don't remove Luzhkov, you are a weak leader."
On the other hand, the pretext of what was in the article I wrote was unconvincing. Persuading me to submit my resignation "at my own request" was impossible. I am not clinging to the mayor's seat, but I value my service to Muscovites.
There are two possibilities: either find substantial grounds and dismiss me or publicly renounce those who have done you such a bad disservice.
It is your choice, Mr. President.
Sincerely. I have the honor.
Yu. M. Luzhkov