January 01, 2020

The Mayor Departs

The Mayor Departs
Yuri Luzhkov in September 2016, receiving an award for Service to the Fatherland, IV Degree Presidential Press Services

Yury Luzhkov, who died in December from complications during routine heart surgery, is difficult to pin to a particular pantheon of Russian political figures.

The longtime Moscow mayor (1992-2010) was the subject of a quasi-official smear campaign in 2010, leading to his unceremonious sacking by the president after a string of television “documentaries.” Luzhkov, who was 83 at time of his death, had retired from politics after his fall from grace, but Russia still gave him full funeral honors in December, flying his body home from Germany for a service at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior (which he had helped rebuild), blocking traffic in central Moscow, followed by burial at the prestigious Novodevichye Cemetery.

Luzhkov was “a man of his era,” Vladimir Putin remarked. This was a somewhat ambiguous assessment from a man that routinely expresses his disgust for the 1990s, the era when Luzhkov arose as an ally of Boris Yeltsin leading the country’s largest city.

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