On Tuesday, Russian president Dimitry Medvedev fired 74-year-old Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov after he had served as mayor for 18 years. "It's hard to imagine a situation in which (Luzhkov) and the president of Russia ... continue to work together when the president has lost confidence int he regional leader," Medvedev said while he was in Shanghai. While Luzhknov oversaw Moscow's "makeover" from slum to bustling metropolis and promoted massive construction projects, he notably used his billionaire wife's construction company for most of these projects, leading to allegations of corruption. He was also condemned for his behavior this summer: The mayor continued his August vacation in Austria while Moscow's air became dangerously saturated with smog from nearby forest fires.
But the final blow was an open spat with Medvedev over plans to build a highway through a forest just outside of Moscow that environmentalists wanted to protect. Medvedev in August ordered the project suspended, a decision that Luzhkov criticized in a newspaper article.
While many Muscovites have watched their city's feverish changes with pride, Luzhkov was despised by preservationists for bulldozing historic buildings in prime locations. In some cases, including the iconic Moskva Hotel, the buildings were demolished only to be replaced by clumsy replicas.
He also inflicted a tacky aura by promoting the gargantuan works of sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, including a 370-foot (94-meter) statue of Peter the Great on a man-made island in the Moscow River that ranks in some surveys as one of the world's ugliest structures.
Read the full story at the Associated Press.