MOSCOW (AP) -- Pyotr Fomenko, a renowned Russian stage director who founded one of Moscow's leading theaters, has died.

Fomenko, who staged more than 60 plays in Russian and foreign theaters during his career, died in Moscow on Thursday at age 80, his theater said. The cause of death wasn't immediately known.

Fomenko began his career as an actor in 1958. He became a director in the 1960s, staging performances at several Moscow theaters before taking helm of the Leningrad Comedy Theater in the 1970s.

In 1993, Fomenko founded his own theater, whose troupe consisted of students at Moscow's theater academy where he worked as a teacher. The Pyotr Fomenko Workshop Theater quickly became popular thanks to his innovative approach to classics.

President Vladimir Putin called Fomenko's death was an "irreparable loss."