Media reports say the former mayor of Moscow and one of the founders of Russia's ruling United Russia party, Yuri Luzhkov, has died at the age of 83. news service reported Tuesday that Yuri Luzhkov died in Munich, where he was undergoing heart surgery.

Luzhkov, a political heavyweight of the Boris Yeltsin era, was the mayor of Moscow for 18 years and was one of the founders of the United Russia party.

Luzhkov was first appointed mayor by President Boris Yeltsin in 1992 and was seen as one of Russia’s most influential politicians.  He was elected to the post with big majorities in 1996 and in December 1999, shortly before Vladimir Putin succeeded the ailing Yeltsin as president. 

He won re-election for a third time in 2003 and was re-appointed by Putin in 2007, after the president had abolished direct elections for the mayoralty and gubernatorial posts.   

Luzhkov was dismissed from his post in the Moscow City Hall in 2010 after facing criticism from the Kremlin, but remained very vocal about Russian domestic affairs.

He was replaced by the current mayor, Sergei Sobyanin.