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Medvedev sacks mayor of Moscow

Sacked mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov. Reuters

Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev fired Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov on Tuesday, saying the Kremlin had lost confidence in him following his management of the capital's response to the wildfire crisis this summer. Luzhkov, 74, is considered one of the most powerful and controversial politicians in Russia.

He was sacked by presidential decree, published the day after he returned from holiday and while Medvedev is out of the country on a state visit to China. The president's spokesperson says he has no plans to meet Luzhkov on his return.

Luzhkov's deputy, Vladimir Resin, has been appointed acting mayor with immediate effect.

The decree comes after the Kremlin publically criticised Luzhkov's decision to take a holiday while Moscow was covered by acrid smoke from summer wildfires.

In recent weeks, state-owned television channels have run a series of highly critical documentaries accusing Luzhkov of destroying Moscow's historic centre and creating gridlock on the capital's roads. The mayor and his wife, construction billionaire Yelena Baturina, have also faced long-standing allegations of corruption.

Luzhkov denies all the claims, and has threatened to sue the TV channels behind the programmes.

He had held his position for 18 years, since being appointed by then president Boris Yeltsin in 1992.

Despite widespread popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s, Luzhkov had attracted strong criticism from liberal opponents for his heavy-handed repression of anti-government protests and refusal to allow gay rights parades.