‘Non-viable, anti-people’: Former Moscow mayor slams wholesaler-oriented economy

Former mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov (RIA Novosti/Mikhail Fomichev)
Former longtime Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who works in agriculture after being dismissed from his post due to loss of trust in 2010, believes wholesalers are abusing their monopoly status making the economy "anti-people."

The ex-mayor now possesses over 5,000 hectares of land in various parts of Russia, growing wheat, barley and oats.

As Luzhkov received reporters from the popular mass circulation daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, he said the current price-forming system in the agricultural sector was “horrible” and blamed a lack of competition among wholesalers for the situation.

Why have prices gone up, even the prices for bread and milk? This is a feature of a monopoly business, not a competitive one. It can also be a hidden cartel agreement between those who work in trade, not in agriculture,” Luzhkov told the newspaper.

He went on to estimate that the margin pocketed by wholesalers and other middlemen could reach 80 percent of the retail price for agricultural; produce.

Such economy is non-viable and anti the people,” he said.

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Luzhkov was the mayor of Russian capital between 1992 and 2010 and was fired by then-President Dmitry Medvedev. Soon after he left office, auditors launched a major inspection of the city’ companies and banks, and in the businesses of Luzhkov’s wife Elena Baturina – once Russia’s richest woman with interests in real estate, hotels and construction.

No criminal cases were brought against Luzhkov or his family, but one of his close allies - the former head of the Bank of Moscow, Andrey Borodin – was charged with multibillion-ruble embezzlement of city funds. Borodin fled to the UK, where he was granted asylum.

After falling foul of the authorities, Luzhkov began to criticize Russian internal politics and the ruling party, United Russia, despite being one of its founders and key figures. However, since the 2011 parliamentary elections, political comments from the ex-mayor have become scarce and he has completely dedicated himself to his agricultural business.