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    Experts: Kremlin takes the edge off Moscow mayor's team

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    MOSCOW, August 4 (RIA Novosti)--On Wednesday, President Vladimir Putin nominated a deputy mayor of Moscow, Valery Shantsev, as the new head of Nizhny Novgorod region.

    Two respected dailies, Novye Izvestia and Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Thursday cited some political analysts as saying that Shantsev's nomination marked the start of a campaign to knock the leading players out of the race for the mayor's office in the capital and to clear the way for a candidate from Putin's home city of St. Petersburg.

    The current term of Yury Luzhkov, the incumbent mayor of Moscow, ends in December 2007. Alexei Mukhin, the director of the Center for Political Information, said Luzhkov's other deputies were likely to drop out of the race for City Hall. Mukhin said the current presidential envoy to the Central Federal District, Georgy Poltavchenko, was most likely to become the capital's new mayor.

    According to Novye Izvestia, Sergei Markov, the director of the Center for Political Studies, viewed Shantsev's departure as the beginning of the end for Luzhkov's team. The political analyst said the mayor's team had earlier developed a plan for Shantsev to succeed Luzhkov. Now, the head of the City Hall will be "a representative of one of the two administration cohorts: St. Petersburg liberals or men from the security services," he said.

    The president of the Polity Foundation, Vyacheslav Nikonov, disputed this opinion. He said Shantsev's nomination was the beginning of a new trend - the appointment of figures outside particular regions as their governors. Nikonov said he believed it marked the start a wide personnel rotation system, where regional leaders would come to Moscow and Muscovites would be delegated to the regions. The political analyst said he was convinced that this meant the Moscow group and Luzhkov himself had increased their power, because Shantsev is Luzhkov's most trusted supporter.

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