Staunton, March 29 – The Moscow urban agglomeration finds itself in a difficult situation: It is producing ever more trash, has exhausted most of its landfill sites, and faces protests from residents about plans to open new ones in the oblast. As a result, officials have turned to neighboring oblasts asking to be allowed to build new dumps there.
Remarkably, the governor of one of these, Igor Ruden of Tver, has refused, citing “ecological” concerns and likely fearful of demonstrations like those which have erupted in Moscow Oblast and also in neighboring Vladimir Oblast over trash disposal sites (rbc.ru/society/29/03/2018/5ab66ab59a79472dc950ea9b?from=main).
On the one hand, this is a small thing: Tver isn’t objecting to the Russian government. It is shooting down the proposal of a neighboring but powerful neighbor. But on the other, it is a potential turning point not only because it is a reminder that oblasts matter but also because their leaders can say “no” to others.
More immediately, it is a reminder of a fundamental Russian problem: the failure to develop infrastructure the population actually needs. And it further suggests the Moscow agglomeration may soon be drowning in trash unless the center comes up with more money (novayagazeta.ru/news/2018/03/29/140590-vlasti-tverskoy-oblasti-otkazalis-stroit-musornye-poligony-dlya-othodov-iz-moskvy).
Some in the regions may consider this a well-deserved payback for Moscow’s heavy-handedness; but if growing cities often surrounded by increasingly vacant countryside in neighboring districts can’t dispose of their trash, that will constitute not only a serious health problem for residents but a political problem in both the cities and the regions.