He ruled Moscow for 18 years but is now out of a job.
Yuri Luzhkov has been sacked by President Dmitri Medvedev after criticising the Kremlin and then refusing to answer government calls to resign.
The 74-year-old is reported to be planning a news conference to respond to his sacking.
Luzhkov had been credited with transforming Moscow with big building projects, but he was also a controversial figure.
He faced repeated allegations that his billionaire wife, who ran a construction company, benefited from her husband’s position. The couple has always denied wrong-doing.
When criticised in some quarters over his vision for new development in the capital, Luzhkov pointed out his pride in the rebuilding of Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
The Russian constitution allows the president to sack the Moscow mayor and regional governors at will, and elections are not required.
One Moscow resident said: “It seems to me that someone who’s worked so hard for so many years, who’s done such a lot, to get rid of him in such a way is very shabby and disrespectful.”
Another said: “He was a good mayor, but maybe it’s worth changing him. Like in all positions, change is needed.”
The sacking of Luzhkov was widely seen as a test of President Medvedev’s resolve ahead of presidential elections in 2012.