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Moscow, outlying region could merge, Mayor Luzhkov

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MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow's mayor said Friday that he believed the capital and the surrounding Moscow Region could unite into a single super-region.

Yury Luzhkov said Moscow's contribution to the Russia's budget totaled some 20-25% of the amount provided by all Federation members, and the Moscow Region's economy had been developing well in recent years.

"[Moscow and its region are] a single economic system and it is quite possible to speak about Moscow and the Moscow Region merging into a single Federation member," Luzhkov told a radio station.

Although Luzhkov, who has been mayor since 1992 and was even seen as a presidential candidate before Vladimir Putin's emergence, cautioned the new region might turn out too huge to be governed, he said it would concentrate a third of the country's overall economic potential.

And the popular city boss suggested the Kremlin would support the idea, even though Moscow Region Governor Boris Gromov is thought to be less than enthusiastic.

"If the country's leadership backed this idea, the issue could be worked out, I think," Luhzkov said.

If the new region became a reality, it would have an overall population of about 18 million - about 11 million people live in the capital - and would unite the economic power of the capital and the region's engineering, metalworking, chemical and electronics industries.

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