Staunton, November 27 – Over the last five years, Gazprom has laid 9,830 kilometers of pipeline inside Russia, bring gas to 1358 population centers and boosting the share of these having gas and no longer having to rely on firewood, coal or heavy oil from 66.2 percent to 71.4 percent, the editors of Novyye izvestiya report.
But now it is clear, under the impact of the pandemic and associated economic crisis, that Gazprom intends to focus mostly on developing export pipelines rather than on bringing gas to more Russians despite this having been named a priority by Vladimir Putin (newizv.ru/article/general/27-11-2020/drova-i-ugol-vmesto-golubogo-topliva-gazprom-ne-toropitsya-gazifitsirovat-rossiyu).
The company and the government behind it are pleading poverty given their recent losses, and there is some truth in that. But at the same time, what this means is that Russia will not come close to meeting Putin’s target of 83 percent coverage by 2030 and that many Russians will thus lack one of the amenities Moscow has long promised them.
What is striking, the editors suggest, is the shamelessness of officials in ignoring these plans for the Russian people and instead focusing on export sales from whose earnings the state and its leaders will benefit far more than the population (newizv.ru/news/economy/09-11-2020/gazifikatsiya-rossii-po-novaku-dengi-gazpromu-otvetstvennost-gubernatoram).
Because most of the remaining population centers without gas are small, protests are likely to be small as well, and the problem is likely to be ignored in Moscow and other big cities. But without gas, many Russians in those places will suffer. And the country as a whole will thus pay a price for this corporate-Kremlin decision.