Russian president Dmitry Medvedev fired Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov on Tuesday, citing no confidence in the leader known to gay advocates and allies for his long-running opposition to a pride celebration in the capital city.
According to the Associated Press, "President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree relieving the 74-year-old mayor of his duties due to a 'loss of confidence' in him, according to the Kremlin. With the long-awaited move, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Medvedev sent a powerful signal that no regional leader is indispensable. Luzhkov had been in that position for 18 years."
Vladimir Resin, a deputy of Luzhkov, was named acting mayor pending the appointment of a successor, the AP reported.
Luzhkov presided over rapid modern developments in the Russian capital following the fall of Communism, although in recent years some came to criticize his leadership. He was panned heavily this past summer for staying on vacation in Austria while forest and peat-bog fires ravaged Moscow.
During his tenure, Luzhkov repeatedly used his power to block plans for a gay pride celebration in Moscow, and referred to gay rights activists as "satanic."
Nikolai Alekseev, the leading gay activist in Russia, reacted with jubilation to Luzhkov's departure, according to the Moscow News.
"First of all it is a very courageous decision of the president and it shows that he is the president," said Alekseev, the Moscow News reported. "All Moscow and all the people in the city should be thankful to him because he has freed the city from all the mafia that were here before and that worked under criminal understandings of the law."
Earlier this month, Alekseev was detained by police at a Moscow airport and subsequently disappeared for nearly three days. He says he was kidnapped and pressured to drop his lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights against the banning of the Moscow gay pride celebration.
Days later, he was arrested in a protest outside Moscow City Hall.