Acting Moscow mayor rejects landmark legacy of predecessor | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.10.2010
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Acting Moscow mayor rejects landmark legacy of predecessor

The legacy of former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov is being consigned to history after his sacking by President Dmitry Medvedev. Most symbolic is the removal of a monument, widely deemed ugly, depicting a famous Russian czar

Shot of part of the monument to Peter the Great in Moscow

The giant tribute to Peter the Great has many detractors

As Russian politicians were deciding upon who will be the new mayor of Moscow, the legacy of the former holder of that role is being rapidly eroded.

Just over a week after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sacked Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, acting Mayor Vladimir Resin has been eradicating the memory of the man who ran city for the past 18 years.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, left, talks to former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov

Medvedev, left, said he no longer had confidence in Luzhkov

Resin, who may emerge as Luzhkov's permanent successor, has already sacked Luzhkov ally Oleg Mitvol from his post running a Moscow administrative district, citing a "lack of support for his methods by the population" as the reason.

He also put a stop to the construction of an art gallery next to the Kremlin, another of the former mayor's ideas.

But - most symbolically of all - Resin also announced plans to dismantle an unpopular giant monument to Russian Czar Peter the Great, which towers over the tip of a central Moscow river island as a testament to the Luzhkov administration.

"A smart man learns from other people's mistakes," Russian news agency Interfax reported Resin as telling a city government meeting, proposing that the statue be moved from central Moscow to "somewhere else."

Voted one of world's ugliest structures

The work, erected in 1997, has featured in several ranking lists of the world's ugliest structures and was opposed by former Russian President Boris Yeltsin on the grounds of its appearance.

The 94-meter (308 foot) landmark, by designer Zurab Tsereteli, depicts former czar stood aboard a small ship with tiny sails, holding aloft a scroll.

A bird flies away with the air visibly filled with smoke in front of a Moscow landmark

Luzhkov was criticized for staying away when the city was choked with smoke

It appears that the sculpture is not even welcome in the city founded by the subject of the monument himself.

Lawmakers in St Petersburg have written to the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, urging him not to "disfigure a city created by a great emperor."

The speaker had earlier suggested the work be moved to the city - which was established in 1712 by Peter, who disliked Moscow.

President Medvedev sacked Luzhkov after a growing power struggle between the two men, saying he had "lost confidence" in the mayor.

Luzhkov, who has been accused of corruption and nepotism in the media, has said he plans to challenge the Kremlin with a new pro-democracy party. The 74-year-old was also appointed dean of one of Moscow's universities this week.

Era of transformation

Luzkhov oversaw the transformation of Moscow from communism to capitalism, putting money from a thriving oil and gas industry into ambitious construction projects.

However, the construction boom has recently left infrastructure stretched, damaging his popularity. There were complaints when he continued with a holiday in Austria this summer as city residents suffered the effects of smoke from nearby peat and forest fires. A social conservative, famous for his flat, working man's caps, Luzhkov also drew criticism for his refusal to tolerate gay pride marches in the city.

On Tuesday, state prosecutors filed charges against one of Luzhkov's former deputies Alexander Ryabinin, for allegedly having accepted bribes.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP/Reuters/AP)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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