Image via WikipediaPresident Medvedev dropped the other shoe and summarily dismissed Mayor Luzhkov. The face - either loved or despised - of Moscow for almost two decades is gone. A fake populist, sometimes corrupt, always in-your-face politician who nevertheless always kept his word if you kept yours, is going to be a hard act to follow. But Moscow and Russia have grown up. Luzhkov did not grow with it.
Yuri Luzhkov was a national figure and transformed the city - some say for the worse. There is no doubt that he changed its face from a somewhat dreary, grey and graceless city that I remember from 1969 and on my next visit n 1989 to a center of fashion, art, night-clubs and expensive shops and five star hotels it is today. But it did lose a certain poetry. Old, quiet neighborhoods such as the one I lived in for three years in 1994 were transformed as high-rises with apartments selling for $3,000 a meter or more concealed the sky while parks vanished as land became more valued than quality of life. I tend to cringe now if I need to travel there, dreading the truly astonishing traffic jams that make New York City look vehicle free.
But, he put Moscow on the map.