Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Moscow’s Response to Snow Compared with Other Cities Sparks Inconvenient Questions, Sociologist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 4 – Snow hits almost all Russian cities hard, sociologist Aleksey Roshchin says; but Moscow alone among them has the capacity to remove it in a timely fashion. Muscovites are by their nature upset that things aren’t even better for them, forgetting that their complaints only highlight how much better they have it.

            Some sycophants say it is all because of their wonderful mayor; others say that it is because Moscow has to be a showcase for the country to foreigners; but few in the capital admit what is in fact the case: Moscow has far more money per capita than do other Russian cities (newizv.ru/news/politics/04-02-2019/umnaya-moskva-i-glupaya-rossiya-pochemu-ob-uspehah-stolitsy-luchshe-molchat).

            Probably, Roshchin says, no one elsewhere would object if Moscow received “20 to 30 percent” more, but they are increasingly angry that the capital gets several orders of magnitude more, that they are sending their taxes to the city, and that Moscow is sending them back not only less money for basic services but its trash.

            And that pattern, he continues, highlights an increasingly inconvenient reality: because the center takes so much from the regions and gives back so little, “Russia can allow itself only one city with a NORMAL city budget.” That is Moscow, and everyone elsewhere, even in St. Petersburg, has to make do with something less.

            Snow removal may seem like a small thing, Roschin says; but when one city gets the chance to do it more or less right and no other city or town in the country does, that makes people in the latter angry and carries with it for the one city that benefits “no small political risks.”

            Given that, the sociologist suggests, it would be far better if Muscovites stopped complaining about shortcomings or praising their city’s snow removal services to the skies. Both the one and the other set them apart, and increasingly are becoming occasions for bitter reflection by the more than 80 percent of Russians who do not live in the capital agglomeration.

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