Moscow's new mayor pledges to curb corruption

Moscow's new mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, a long-time lieutenant of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, took office yesterday and vowed to curb the corruption and excessive bureaucracy he said was stifling development.

The city council, dominated by Putin's ruling United Russia party, confirmed Sobyanin by a 32-2 vote to replace Yuri Luzhkov, who had held office for 18 years but was sacked by President Dmitry Medvedev last month after an escalating feud.

Sobyanin takes over a city of 10.5 million that showcases Russia's progress and its problems two decades after the Soviet Union's demise – a gleaming reflection of the oil-fuelled boom that has fed both economic growth and graft. In remarks to the council ahead of a vote whose outcome was never in doubt, Sobyanin vowed to tackle the corruption, bureaucracy and mismanagement that he said had undermined Moscow's post-Soviet revival.

"The city has changed for the better and taken its rightful place as a leading global megalopolis," Sobyanin said.

"But in recent years, it is clear that many opportunities have been missed. The pace of development has gradually slowed.

"I am deeply convinced that corruption and bureaucracy threaten to devalue many, if not all, of Moscow's competitive advantages," said Sobyanin, who was sworn in later at a ceremony attended by Medvedev and Russian religious leaders.

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