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Yuri M. Luzhkov, 83, Dies; Mayor at Dawn of Post-Soviet Moscow

The destruction of hundreds of historic buildings or their transformation into gaudy edifices in the “Luzhkov style” drew criticism from some. Although he denied it, it was widely accepted that all architectural projects had to meet with his approval, and that he insisted on the use of ornate decorative elements, including spires.

Some of Mr. Luzhkov’s policies have been controversial. Many Muscovites say he created the post-Soviet model of authoritarian government that was later imposed on the rest of Russia. He limited the flow of migrants into Moscow, especially from Central Asia, a policy that some viewed as racist. He refused to authorize gay pride parades in the city.

Mr. Luzhkov was widely praised, however, for his expansion of the city’s infrastructure. He improved Moscow’s old ring road, often called “the road of death” during Soviet times, and built another beltway road around central Moscow, earning him the nickname “Lord of the Rings.”

He also launched the construction of Moscow City, a collection of super-tall skyscrapers overlooking central Moscow. Wearing his trademark flat cap, he personally inspected construction sites around Moscow, underscoring his hands-on approach to governing.

But his critics pointed out that his construction efforts went hand in hand with the expansion of an investment and construction company, Inteko, run by his wife, Yelena N. Baturina. During her husband’s tenure, Ms. Baturina became the richest woman in Russia and one of the richest in the world. She and Mr. Luzhkov denied any improprieties. She sold her company shortly after President Dmitri A. Medvedev exercised his power to dismiss Mr. Luzhkov in 2010 over political differences.

Mr. Luzhkov “was one of those who laid the foundations of the current inhumane and Mafioso management system in Moscow and the country,” said Vladimir Milov, Russia’s former deputy energy minister and now a commentator.

But Nyuta Federmesser, an activist and proponent of palliative care, praised Mr. Luzhkov’s efforts to build hospices in Moscow, noting in a Facebook post that he had promised a hospice in “every Moscow district.”


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