Yury Luzhkov

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Yury Luzhkov
Юрий Лужков
Yuri Luzhkov 2010 Moscow Unesco 02.jpg
2nd Mayor of Moscow
In office
6 June 1992 – 28 September 2010
Preceded by Gavriil Popov
Succeeded by Vladimir Resin (acting)
Sergey Sobyanin
Deputy Chairman of the Committee on the Operational Management of the Economy of the Soviet Union
In office
24 August 1991 – 14 November 1991
Premier Ivan Silayev
Preceded by Arkady Volsky
Succeeded by Grigory Yavlinsky
Personal details
Born Yury Mikhaylovich Luzhkov
(1936-09-21) 21 September 1936 (age 85)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality Russian
Political party CPSU (1968-1991)
Fatherland (1998-2001)
United Russia (2001-2010)[1]
Spouse(s) Marina Bashilova (1958–1989) (her death)
Yelena Baturina (1991–Present)
Children Mikhail Luzhkov
Alexander Luzhkov
Elena Luzhkova (born 1992)
Olga Luzhkova (born 1994)
Alma mater Gubkin Moscow Petrochemical & Gas Industry Institute
Religion Russian Orthodox
Awards Orden for Service I.png
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Order francysk skaryna rib.png Medal of Francis Skorina rib.png 40 px 40 px
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Order of the Cedar - Knight (Lebanon) Ribbon.png 50 px
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Signature Yury Luzhkov's signature

Yury Mikhaylovich Luzhkov (Russian: Ю́рий Миха́йлович Лужко́в; IPA: [ˈjʉrʲɪj mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪt͡ɕ lʊˈʂkof]; born 21 September 1936) is a Russian politician who was the Mayor of Moscow from 1992 to 2010. He was also vice-chairman and one of the founders of the ruling United Russia party.

During Luzhkov's time, Moscow's economy improved and he presided over large construction projects in the city, including the building of a new financial district. At the same time, he was accused of corruption, bulldozing historic buildings, and poor handling of traffic, as well as the city's smog crisis during the 2010 Russian wildfires.[2] On 28 September 2010, Luzhkov was fired from his post by a decree issued by President Dmitry Medvedev.[3]

Family and personal life

Yury Mikhaylovich Luzhkov was born on 21 September 1936 in Moscow. His father, Mikhail Andreyevich Luzhkov, moved to Moscow from a small village in Tver Oblast in the 1930s.

Luzhkov married his first wife, Marina Bashilova, in 1958, and had two sons with her, Mikhail and Alexander. Bashilova died from liver cancer in 1989. He met his second wife, Yelena Baturina, 27 years his junior, in 1987. They married in 1991. Baturina is a Russian businesswoman and Russia's only female billionaire. She is the joint 1075th richest person in the world.[4] They have two daughters, Elena (born 1992) and Olga (born 1994), and maintain a home in London.[5] Luzhkov frequently appears in public at different festivals and celebrations, and is an enthusiastic promoter of the city. His hobbies include tennis and beekeeping. His support for physical fitness is well known, and a statue of the mayor in tennis garb was erected recently in a Moscow park.

Professional career

From 1953 to 1958, Luzhkov studied at the Gubkin Moscow Petrochemical & Gas Industry Institute, but undisclosed sources claim that he has illegally purchased his diploma. From 1958 until 1964, he worked as a scientific researcher in the Moscow Scientific Research Institute of Plastics. He joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1968. For the next twenty years he worked on automation initiatives in various sectors of the chemical industry (1964–1971: management automation department chief, State Chemistry Committee; 1971–1974: automated management systems department chief, Chemical Industry Ministry of the Soviet Union; 1974–1980: CEO, Experimental Design Office of Automation, Chemical Industry Ministry of the Soviet Union; 1980–1986: CEO, Scientific-Industrial Association "Petrochemautomation").[citation needed]

Personal views

Yuri Luzhkov is a devoted Orthodox Christian believer, often appearing at Christmas and Easter liturgies.[6] He was quite friendly with Patriarch Alexy II. In 2005 he was given an award from International Fund of unity of Orthodox Christians.[7] Luzhkov keeps conservative and traditionalist views. He is considered a great friend of the Greek Orthodox Church as well.[clarification needed]

He is critical of homosexuality and issued several bans on the Moscow Pride parade, organised by Nikolai Alekseev. Yuri Luzhkov has consistently opposed pride parades in the capital for a variety of reasons.[clarification needed] In 2007, he attracted international attention when he said of the 2006 parade: "Last year, Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the gay parade, which cannot be called anything other than satanic. [...] We did not let the parade take place then, and we are not going to allow it in the future." He blamed groups which he accused of receiving grants from the West for spreading what he called "this kind of enlightenment" in Russia. "We think that destructive sects and propaganda of same-sex love are inadmissible," he said of attempts to promote LGBT rights in Russia. Gay activists accuse him of homophobia[8] and sent their appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, complaining the breach of Freedom of Assembly, which is granted in the European Convention on Human Rights.[9] On 25 January 2010, he said: "It is high time to crack down on the parade with all the power and justice of the law, instead of talking about human rights. (...) We need a social whip or something like that."[10]

Luzhkov is known as an enthusiastic advocate of Northern river reversal project, which he believes would solve the water problem of Central Asia and earn money for Russia.[11]

He is fond of football (he is a fan of FC Moscow and visits many of its matches. The club was even nicknamed "caps" by other fans, as reference to Luzhkov wearing a cap), and tennis.[citation needed]

Mayoral career

He was first elected as a member of the Moscow city council (Mossovet) in 1977, and in 1987 transferred to the executive branch Moscow city (Mosgorispolkom). He held different positions, usually one level below the Mayor.

In 1991, Gavriil Popov was elected Mayor of Moscow in the first direct elections. However, inexperienced Popov was unsuccessful in solving the city's crisis and resigned in June 1992.

Luzhkov, who held the position of Chairman of the Moscow city government at the time (i.e. head executive branch of the City Council), was appointed Mayor by Boris Yeltsin on 6 June 1992. Luzhkov gained more popular support among Muscovites than Popov. His policies included providing free transportation to the elderly and a strong encouragement of business entrepreneurship. He was first elected as Mayor on 16 June 1996 (winning 95% of the vote), and re-elected on 19 December 1999 (69.9% of the votes) and again on 7 December 2003 (75% of the votes).

City construction

Under Luzhkov's government, Moscow experienced a construction boom and became the world's most attractive city for estate investments in 2008 according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers: a large number of residential and office buildings were constructed and the city's infrastructure was dramatically improved. After USSR collapse, the number of private cars started to increase, on average, by 150–200 thousand automobiles per year, which got Moscow into severe traffic problems. Under Luzhkov, the city transport system was expanded significantly. The Third Ring Road was built to ease the traffic problem, the MKAD ring road was reconstructed to handle increasing amount of traffic. The Fourth Ring Road is currently under construction for the same purposes. Most of the city major roads were enhanced with elevated highways and road junctions. The Moscow metro expanded beyond the city limits. During this time, new transportation systems for Moscow were introduced such as medium-capacity rail transport system and monorail.

Apartment construction market developed rapidly, as many apartment buildings are raised every year. However, this sphere became controversial, as many critics claimed that Inteco, the company run by Elena Baturina, Luzhkov's second wife, became nearly a monopoly in apartment construction.[12]


Under Luzhkov's leadership, Moscow was modernized considerably. A significant number of glass-and-metal houses were built, as well as skyscrapers, such as in Moscow-Сity, the international trade center, are under construction. Luzhkov also rebuilt Moscow Gostiny Dvor "with radical and inappropriate changes" such as the installation of a modern glass roof.[13] Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was also rebuilt, and Moscow Victory park opened to celebrate the 50th anniversary of victory in World War II.

At the same time, many of the old Soviet landmarks, such as Rossiya Hotel or Voentorg, were reconstructed or demolished,[14] as well as such historical buildings as several old buildings around the Kadashi Church in the proximity of the Moscow Kremlin. Many neighbourhoods, like Zamoskvorechye, have been dramatically changed.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] Sculptor Zurab Tsereteli enjoyed Luzhkov's personal support in setting many of his works over the city.

As a result, many NGOs blame Luzhkov and his government for "the current destruction of much of the history of Moscow" as well as "bulldozing Moscow's architectural heritage and replacing it with mock-palaces" (The Guardian) including the construction of Catherine II's unbuilt palace in Tsaritsyno and the reconstruction of the Kolomenskoye Palace of Tsar Alexis (demolished as early as the 18th century).[citation needed]


In the Soviet Union every citizen was required to live where they had permanent living place (propiska), as the government wanted to limit uncontrolled migration and homelessness. Since most flats in large cities were state-owned, it was also difficult to legally rent a home (in smaller cities some percentage of homes was private, so it was possible to sign a renting contract). This was changed after perestroika, which allowed people to temporarily rent now-privatized flats.

However, Moscow under Luzhkov invited several restrictions to this rule, partially keeping the old system. Each non-resident, who arrives in the city, must register with the local police department within 90 days of their arrival. The fine for noncompliance is 2500 rubles of penalty, and he or she would have trouble getting legal employment. Moscow police frequently ask for people's identification to check whether they have a propiska.[citation needed]

Luzhkov's rationale for registration has been that Moscow's city infrastructure could not handle a rapidly growing population. Some of the most blatant limitations were removed by the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court after a long fight with Luzhkov's lawyers, making the registration process somewhat simpler. In 2003 Privacy International awarded Luzhkov the runner-up position in its Most Egregiously Stupid Award for the propiska rules.[24]


In April 2001, 63% of Moscow residents had a good or very good view of Mayor Luzhkov. However, Luzkhov's ratings steadily declined, and according to the latest poll from October 2009, only 36% of Muscovites viewed him positively.[25] According to a September 2010 poll, 65% of Muscovites tend to credit Luzhkov for the high quality of life in Moscow.[26]

Allegations of Corruption

According to secret cables published by WikiLeaks, the US ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, stated that Luzhkov sat on top of a "pyramid of corruption". "Luzhkov oversees a system in which it appears that almost everyone at every level is involved in some form of corruption or criminal behaviour," wrote Beyrle. "Analysts identify a three-tiered structure in Moscow's criminal world. Luzhkov is at the top. The FSB, MVD and militia are at the second level. Finally ordinary criminals and corrupt inspectors are at the lowest level." Beyrle also suggested that much of Luzhkov's business empire had been acquired using municipal finances to invest in "less than transparent" projects with former Soviet republics.[27] In a further cable, Beyrle reported allegations that Luzhkov's billionaire wife Yelena Baturina, who became Russia's richest woman after he assumed office with her construction company Inteko, had links to major criminal groups, particularly Solntsevskaya Bratva.[28] The couple denied the accusations as "total rubbish".[27]

Allegations of wrongdoing by Luzhkov had been made before, but he had been notable for never having lost a libel suit in his career, including against Boris Nemtsov, the newspaper Kommersant, and the New York Times.[29]


Luzhkov was dismissed by President Medvedev on 28 September 2010, after returning from a holiday in Austria, citing "loss of trust", a traditional Russian legal formula for dishonorable dismissal.[30] In recent years, the Kremlin had consistently been replacing old regional heads, elected already during Boris Yeltsin's time, with younger candidates. Pundits had been predicting Luzhkov's imminent ousting for years.[25] The September 2010 dismissal followed weeks of speculation regarding Luzhkov's position, caused by his questioning of Medvedev's leadership.[30] Luzhkov had recently criticised Medvedev's decision to halt the construction of a new highway through the Khimki Forest amid protests by environmentalists. Luzkhov had also called for a "stronger leadership" of Russia.[31] Government-controlled television channels had run programmes criticising Luzhkov's handling of the 2010 summer peat fires and accused him and his wife of corruption.[32] Some observers have seen this as being part of a struggle between Medvedev and then-Prime Minister Putin.[33] Luzhkov has officially declared that he has left the United Russia party.[34] Luzhkov had sent a letter to the President on the 27th of September criticising Medvedev's policy and his administration's actions.[35] According to the President's press-secretary Medvedev read the letter after the decision had been made but it would not have affected his decision in any case.[36]

Post-mayoral activities

In November 2010 Luzhkov gave an interview to the Telegraph newspaper stating that he was sending his daughters to study in London "to protect them from possible persecution". He said that a house had been bought in the West of the city for them. He and his wife intend to visit them regularly.[37] Luzhkov also claimed that the Russian authorities were planning to break up his wife's business empire and that the couple would fight the attempt: "We will not give up. My wife will battle for her business and for her honour and self-worth. That is for sure."[37]

In Russia's politics

In 1998, as Boris Yeltsin's political troubles grew partly because of the August economic crisis, Luzhkov formed his own national political faction, Otechestvo (Fatherland), to serve as his base for the upcoming presidential election. Otechestvo had the support of many powerful regional politicians, and it gained further support when it merged with another party, Vsya Rossiya (All Russia) to form Otechestvo-Vsya Rossiya. Many observers of Russian politics believed that Luzhkov and his new ally, former prime minister Yevgeniy Primakov, would be likely to displace both Yeltsin and his inner circle in the parliamentary and presidential elections due to be held in late 1999 and mid-2000, respectively.[38] [39]

Luzhkov with Primakov and Putin in 2002

However, Luzhkov's fortunes turned when Boris Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin as Prime Minister in August 1999. While virtually an unknown when first appointed, observers of Russian politics argued[citation needed] that Putin rapidly gained popular support due to a hard-line law and order image and the backing of powerful state-owned and state-allied media and economic interests. The hard-fought autumn 1999 Duma campaign ended up with Otechestvo-Vsya Rossiya only at 3rd place. Compromising, Luzhkov and his party accepted integration with the pro-Putin Unity party into single party United Russia, and supported Putin in the 2000 presidential elections, which he won easily. Though still a co-chairman of United Russia, in more recent years Luzhkov became less active in federal politics.


During his time in office, Luzhkov was criticised for massive corruption, giving preferential deals to the construction company of his wife, Yelena Baturina, who became a billionaire during her husband's mayorship. Luzhkov is also accused of brutal suppression of opposition protests, and he was widely condemned for leaving Moscow during the smog crisis resulting from 2010 Russian wildfires. He is also blamed for traffic congestion in the city.[2][40]


In 2002, Luzhkov proposed returning to Lubyanka Square the fifteen ton iron statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Soviet Cheka. The statue was removed after the failure of an attempted coup against the Soviet government of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. Opponents of the proposal collected the signatures of 114,000 Moscow residents against the statue's return.[41]

Alexander Korzhakov, former chief of the RF president's security service, told journalists that Boris Berezovsky had tried to talk him into assassinating Vladimir Gusinsky, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, singer and Duma deputy Joseph Kobzon, and others (Novy Vzglyad newspaper, 19 October 1996),.[42][43]

According to David Satter, the Moscow-based company AFK Sistema run by Luzhkov's brother-in law Vladimir Yevtushenkov is linked to Semion Mogilevich, the "most dangerous gangster in the world," and the Solntsevo Russian mafia gang.[44]

In September 2010, Russian federal television stations NTV and Russia 24 aired a number of broadcasts critical of Luzhkov, sparking speculation that he would be dismissed soon from his position of the mayor of Moscow.[45]

Stance on Sevastopol

On 12 May 2008 Luzhkov was banned from entering Ukraine. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has forbidden him from entering the territory of Ukraine after this statement concerning the legal status of the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol:

The SBU are also investigating Luzhkov for possible money laundering at the territory of Sevastopol, and have stated that if evidence is found they will prosecute him.[46]

Destruction of the Rechnik Neighbourhood

It was Luzhkov who controversially ordered the destruction of houses built in the Rechnik neighborhood of Moscow. According to an interview published in the Moskovsky Komsomolets, Luzkhov said that the residents were squatting on land in a "protected environmental zone." Residents claim that Soviet-era permits to the land, which was set aside as a gardening collective in the 1950s, gave them de facto title over the land the houses are built on and many of these titles were bought or inherited from the original owners; Luzhkov was accused lobbying the interests of building companies.[14] However, the City Hall claims that no permissions for private house building on this land were given since the 1950s and that the residents could never claim for the countryside amnesty because of that. Nevertheless, Luzhkov stated that the city was ready to provide full compensation by offering other land plots in the vicinity of Moscow for veterans of World War II who lived in Rechnik since Soviet times.[47][48]

Honouring Stalin

In 2010, Yury Luzhkov made public his plans to honour Soviet leader Joseph Stalin with 10 posters of Stalin in the city of Moscow, for the first time in around fifty years after Khrushchev's criticism of Stalin-period policies (see De-Stalinization). The proposal caused a storm of controversy in Russia as well as international outcry, yet Luzhkov insisted on his plans. Luzhkov claims that the history must be objective and that Stalin's contributions to Russia's (USSR) development and to the victory of World War II cannot be neglected, also stating that he "is not a Stalin apologist".[49] Critics expressed concern that Stalin was being rehabilitated as memories of his reign of terror faded.[49][50][51]

Honours and awards

Soviet Union
Russian regions
  • Order of Akhmad Kadyrov (2006, Chechen Republic)
  • Medal "For Services to the Chechen Republic" (2005)
  • Order of the Republic (2001, Tuva) - for the fruitful cooperation and personal contribution to the socio-economic development of the
  • Medal "60 years of education of the Kaliningrad region" (2006)
  • Order "For Services to the Kaliningrad region" (Kaliningrad Region, 16 January 2009) - for outstanding services to the Kaliningrad region, related to making a large contribution to its socio-economic development and a significant contribution to protecting the rights of citizens
  • Order of St. Mashtots (Armenia)
  • Order of Friendship of Peoples (Belarus) (16 February 2005) - for his great personal contribution to strengthening economic, scientific, technological and cultural ties between Belarus and Moscow Russian Federation [98]
  • Order of Francisc Skorina (Belarus)
  • Medal of Francisc Skorina (Belarus, 19 September 1996) - for his significant contribution to strengthening the friendly relations between Belarus and the Russian Federation
  • Jubilee Medal "50 Tynga zhyl" ("50 virgin") (Kazakhstan)
  • Medal "Astana" (Kazakhstan)
  • Order "Danaker" (Kyrgyzstan, February 27, 2006) - for his significant contribution to strengthening friendship and cooperation, developing trade and economic relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and the Russian Federation
  • Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 5th class (Ukraine, 23 January 2004) - for personal contribution to the development of cooperation between Ukraine and the Russian Federation
  • Order of the Polar Star (Mongolia)
  • Chevalier of the National Order of the Cedar (Lebanon)
  • Bavarian Order of Merit (Germany)
  • State Prize for peace and progress of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan (2003)
Religious organizations
Departmental awards
  • Medal Anatoly Koni (Ministry of Justice)
  • Gold Medal of the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia "for contribution to the development of agro-industrial complex of Russia"
  • Medal "Participant humanitarian relief operations" (Russian Emergencies Ministry)
  • Golden Olympic Order (IOC, 1998)
  • Medal "100 years of trade unions" (FNPR)
Community Awards
  • International Leonardo Prize (1996)
  • Badge of Honor (Order) "Sports Glory of Russia", 1st class ("Komsomolskaya Pravda" newspaper and the board of the Russian Olympic Committee, November 2002) - for organizing large-scale construction of sports facilities in Moscow


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External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Gavriil Popov
Mayor of Moscow
Succeeded by
Vladimir Resin