Luzhkov, Yury Mikhaylovich

Luzhkov, Yury Mikhaylovich
(1936– )
   Politician. Born in Moscow, the city he would ultimately come to govern, Yury Luzhkov joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1968. He worked as a manager in several chemical and scientific firms before moving into politics. He was elected to the Moscow city council in 1977, where he served in a number of senior positions during the 1980s.
   Boris Yeltsin appointed Luzhkov to replace Gavril Popov, Moscow’s first democratically elected mayor, in 1992 after Popov resigned. Luzhkov proved popular with voters due to his expansion of the transportation system and public works projects, though he has been criticized for his demolition of significant historical buildings in the city center. He is also credited with Moscow’s dramatic increase in wealth as compared to other parts of the Russian Federation, particularly in the area of attracting foreign investment. He has drawn criticism for keeping the permit-based (propiska) residence registration system in effect in the capital, and for his harsh stance against immigrants, particularly those from Central Asia and the Caucasus.
   As mayor of Moscow, Luzhkov has amassed a prodigious fortune and vast array of business interests including media outlets; he is frequently described as one of the country’s oligarchs. His political ambitions have grown with his wealth. In the late 1990s, he formed the Fatherland political party, which soon merged with All Russia to form the FatherlandAll Russia party. Allied to Yevgeny Primakov, he sought to challenge Boris Yeltsin for control of the federal government. However, the emergence of Vladimir Putin dashed his plans for national influence; Luzhkov ultimately reconciled himself to supporting the new president. His party was soon absorbed by the pro-Putin Unity, which ultimately became United Russia. He has created international controversy over the status of the Russian naval port of Sevastopol, resulting in him being declared persona non grata in Ukraine. He maintains economic interests across many Russian regions (primarily to guarantee privileged access to foodstuffs, energy, and other necessities), and has recently expanded into international real estate as a major investor in improving Kyrgyzstan’s tourism infrastructure around Lake Issyk Kul.
   Luzhkov is an avowed Orthodox Christian and a strong supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church. His opposition to homosexuality is well known, and he has denied permission to gay pride parades on several occasions.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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