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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov sacked by President Medvedev

BBC news

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (left) and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov (right), in a file photo from September 2008 Yuri Luzhkov (right): once tipped as future president

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has fired Moscow's powerful mayor, Yuri Luzhkov.

Mr Luzhkov, 74, was being removed because he had lost "the trust of the president of the Russian Federation", a presidential decree said.
In recent weeks Mr Luzhkov - who has been in office since 1992 - had faced harsh criticism from the Kremlin.

The move follows weeks of speculation that Mr Luzhkov would be be forced out after disagreements with the president.
Russia's constitution allows the president to fire the Moscow mayor and regional governors, and appoint successors without elections.

'Constant barrage'

Mr Luzhkov is one of Russia's most powerful politicians and is a senior member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.
Before the emergence of Vladimir Putin a decade ago, he was even tipped as a possible future president.

However the mayor has recently been the subject of a constant barrage from state-run TV, which criticised him for gridlock on the capital's roads and bulldozing historic buildings. He and his billionaire wife, Yelena Baturina, have been also accused of corruption.

Mr Luzhkov has denounced all the claims as "total rubbish", designed to make him "lose his balance". He has threatened to sue the TV channels concerned.

Commentators believe this battle at the highest level of Russian politics was sparked by a newspaper article written by the mayor in which he appeared to criticise the president and call for a return to stronger national leadership, says the BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow.
The Kremlin clearly decided Mr Luzhkov had to be pressurised to resign voluntarily or be pushed out, our correspondent says.

On Monday, after returning from a week's holiday in Austria, Mr Luzhkov said he would not stand down voluntarily.

He has not publicly responded to Mr Medvedev's move.

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