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Life after Luzhkov: What happens to Moscow’s assets?

The ousting of long-time mayor Yury Luzhkov could pave the way for the sale of a number of prime assets owned by the Russian capital’s administration. Guy Norton reports.

IT OFTEN SEEMS that nobody survives for long in the dog-eat-dog world of modern Russian politics. Nobody, it seemed, except Yury Mikhaylovich Luzhkov, the septuagenarian mayor of Moscow, who for the best part of almost two decades oversaw the running of the Russian capital and was effectively the third most important political figure in Russia after president Dmitry Medvedev and evergreen prime minister Vladimir Putin. Having been in charge of Moscow’s affairs since 1992 and having easily triumphed in three mayoral elections, Luzhkov had helped engineer a vast improvement in Moscow’s economic fortunes and presided over landmark construction projects such as the MKAD outer ring road and the showcase Moscow City financial district, which is at the heart of plans for Moscow to position itself as a global financial centre. According to a poll in September by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre, 65% of the capital’s citizens credited Luzhkov with the city’s relatively high standard of living – in Russian terms at least.

According to Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a political analyst at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Luzhkov’s generally effective stewardship of Moscow’s $320 billion economy, which accounts for roughly 25% of Russia’s GDP, made him a new kind of civic leader: a khozyaistvennik, an economic manager rather than a political figurehead.

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