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Luzhkov Says He Feels Like Outcast

Former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov Andrei Makhonin

Yury Luzhkov said he feels like a pariah two years after his ouster as Moscow's mayor, with President Vladimir Putin and other officials going out of their way to avoid him.

Luzhkov, speaking in an interview with Moskovsky Komsomolets published Tuesday, said he has not met with Putin since then-President Dmitry Medvedev fired him over "a loss of confidence" in October 2010.

"No we haven't met," he said, adding that he believed Putin was avoiding him.

He said he resigned from the Russian Geographical Society, where Putin serves as chairman of the board of trustees, over such "politicking."

"I received an invitation and agenda for a meeting in St. Petersburg. A half hour later, the courier returned and retracted the invitation because Putin was going to attend the meeting," Luzhkov said. "These people don't want to meet with me even a year after I left my post."

Luzhkov, who served as mayor for 18 years, left in disgrace amid a power struggle with the Kremlin. In the weeks before his dismissal, state-controlled television aired reports that cast doubt on his leadership and the work activities of his wife, one-time billionaire Yelena Baturina.

In the interview, Luzhkov also complained that he hadn't been invited to attend the grand re-opening of the Bolshoi Theater last fall, even though he had stepped in to oversee its reconstruction at the personal request of Medvedev.

The Bolshoi Theater faced embarrassing delays and cost overruns before reopening on Oct. 28, 2011, following a six-year refurbishment that cost about $680 million.

Luzhkov said he had ended the repeated delays by dismissing incompetent contractors and stepping up the reconstruction works by introducing three daily shifts, similar to what was done during the reconstruction of Christ the Savior Cathedral in the 1990s.

"Soon nobody doubted that the Bolshoi Theater would raise its curtain on time," he said.

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