Staunton, April 24 – The Moscow city government’s plan to tear down the five-storey apartment blocks known as “khrushchoby” and shift their residents to other locations to sell the land under them for development has infuriated residents and led to announcements of plans for protests (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/04/tearing-down-khrushchoby-from.html).
That has prompted officials in the Moscow mayor’s office to meet behind closed doors to decide how to contain or at least deflect this anger so that the plan will not generate the kind of meetings that could grow into mass demonstrations like those in 2011-2012 (znak.com/2017-04-24/meriya_moskvy_provela_s_rukovoditelyami_prefektur_zakrytoe_sovechanie_po_snosu_domov).
According to those who took part in these meetings, Znak journalist Yekaterina Vinokurova says, the mayor’s office “considers that the best way to stifle [public] dissatisfaction is by personal discussions” with the people, noting this year there are in the city, “elections to local organs” and United Russia candidates “must enter into dialogue with residents.”
Officials expect that public anger will ebb somewhat when on May 10, the city publishes the list of the first apartment buildings to be torn down. Those living in others may conclude that they have escaped the axe this time around and be less inclined to support or participate in any protests.
But at the same time, the city and even the federal government have made statements designed to reduce anger: The major has said that people will not be forced to move out of the section of the city in which they now live, and Putin has said no force will be involved thus in this process (republic.ru/posts/82313).
That may or may not be enough. According to Moscow’s vice mayor, Anastasiya Rakov, “Moscow is a big village, and as soon as in any district appear two or three opposition figures appear, their complaints are heard throughout Moscow about problems that as a result acquire immediately a city-wide significance.” One might even add an all-Russian one too.
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