News / Europe

Former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov Leaves Mixed Legacy

A few days ago, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev fired Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.

Luzhkov was one of the most influential politicians in modern day, post-Soviet Russia. During his 18 years as Moscow's mayor, he transformed Russia's capital from a shabby, crumbling city, to an attractive Western style metropolis.

Robert Legvold, Russia expert at Columbia University, describes some of the major projects initiated by Luzhkov.

"It is a glittering city with glamorous shopping malls and with shopping facilities not just for the very rich but for the middle class - burgeoning numbers of shopping malls in and around the city that match anything you see in the West, in the U.S. or elsewhere," he said. "The city itself has been painted and improved. There has been an effort to do something about the traffic congestion by adding a peripherique, that is a circle road within Moscow."

But Legvold says even though Muscovites are now proud of their city,  not everyone has agreed with Mayor Luzhkov's decisions.

"Environmentalists or preservationists are upset that some important buildings or parts of Moscow have been torn down to put up high-rise, glass steel structures," he said. "But it is now a world class city. It is also one of the world's most expensive cities - normally it ranks either number one or number two in the world."

Many of the infrastructure projects were done by Inteko, a construction company headed by Luzhkov's wife, Elena Baturina, considered by Forbes magazine to be the third richest woman in the world.

"She's head of a construction company, but this construction company works for the city," said
David Satter, who is with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. "And these contracts are notorious - especially anything to do with infrastructure in Russia is notoriously corrupt. And she's benefited from that. In order to do business with the city, there's a whole system of bribery that is in place, with bribes being passed up from one level to the next and ultimately reaching the mayor's office - and this is well-known in Moscow. It used to be said of Luzhkov, in his favor, that of course he steals, but he doesn't steal everything - he leaves a little bit for the city. And this, by Russian standards, was considered to be quite commendable."

For years, corruption allegations followed Luzhkov and Baturina - but the two consistently denied them. In addition, they have never been formally charged.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev (file)
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev (file)

Just a few days ago, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev fired Luzhkov saying the Moscow mayor "lost the confidence of the president" - a decision that was backed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Analysts say it is difficult to determine the real reasons for Luzhkov's dismissal, but they point to several recent events that might have precipitated the decision.

Robert Legvold says a botched construction project on the road to Moscow's main Sheremetyevo airport created huge traffic jams during the summer. Luzhkov was criticized for that and some Russian officials felt he wanted to divert traffic to the city-controlled airport, Domodedovo.

"You had more recently the peat bog fires, the forest fires in the context of the heat wave in August - and he [Luzhkov] stayed on vacation and was seen as essentially an absentee leader who was not responsive and was criticized for that," he said. "As Putin and Medvedev grew increasingly impatient with him, they had unleashed the national media, the television media which certainly does their bidding, had begun broadcasting negative stories about both Luzhkov and Baturina, his wife."

But Legvold and others say Luzhkov sealed his fate in a September newspaper interview in Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Without naming Medvedev, he questioned the president's authority and depicted him as a man of all talk and no action. He also criticized Medvedev for halting construction of a superhighway through forests north of Moscow.

"So at that point, I think it was clear that for Medvedev, that if he didn't do something, he would really be seen as very weak if he couldn't do anything," Levgold said.

First Luzhkov was urged to resign. But when he refused, Medvedev fired him.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid