Russia's president fired defiant Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov on Tuesday, ousting the man who gave the crumbling capital a modern facelift but was maligned for his wife's hold on construction projects and for staying on vacation while forest fires choked his city.
President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree relieving the 74-year-old mayor of his duties due to a "loss of confidence" in him, according to the Kremlin. With the long-awaited move, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Medvedev sent a powerful signal that no regional leader is indispensable. Luzhkov had been in that position for 18 years.
Speculation over the future of the cap-wearing mayor had swirled in recent days, forcing him to declare on Monday that he wouldn't quit — an option that Medvedev's spokeswoman said the Kremlin had offered to him.
Luzhkov made no public comment, but in a resignation letter to United Russia, the ruling party headed by Putin, he suggested there had been an orchestrated campaign to oust him.