Yuri Luzhkov, the mayor of Moscow since 1992.
Yuri Luzhkov was born Sep 21, 1936 in Moscow and was educated at the Gubkin Institute of Oil and Gas. He joined the Moscow city council as a deputy chairperson in 1987, rising to head chair in 1990 and to the position of vice mayor from 1991 to 1992, when he became the mayor and head of city government.
Luzhkov, the son of a carpenter, is a barrel-chested non-smoking teetotaller. A brash politician informally referred to as the "tsar" of Moscow, Luzhkov has widespread contacts with leading bankers, media moguls, and business executives in Moscow and is involved in virtually all big city contracts, which led to accusations of transferring city real estate to himself in secretive arrangements.
Despite these allegations, Luzhkov is a popular mayor with a proven talent for getting things done. He has filled potholes, restored buildings and churches, and is an effective administrator. He has committed $300 million of the city's depleted coffers to the restoration of a cathedral razed by Iosiph Stalin.
Luzhkov supported Yeltsin during the August 1991 communist coup attempt and during the 1993 uprising at the Russian White House, after which a grateful Boris Yeltsin grantedhim broad powers outside of federal control that exempted Moscow city from Russia's privatisation program.
In mid-1995 Luzhkov was involved in a power struggle with the equally secretive Yeltsin over control of Moscow city government. Yeltsin had peremptorily fired the city prosecutor and chief of police after the gangland killing of a leading newscaster and television executive, Vladislav Listyev, and Luzhkov angrily refused to approve their dismissals, at one point threatening to resign as mayor.
He was overwhelmingly re-elected mayor in three recent elections - in June 1996, April 2000 and December 2003.