Saturday, February 17, 2024

More than Three Million Russians Suffering from Collapse of Communal Services This Winter, Far More than in Last Pre-War Years

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 12 – Every day, the Russian media and especially its more independent outlets are filled with reports about the collapse of communal services in the Russian Federation this winter. According to a Novaya Gazeta investigation, more than three million Russians have suffered already this year from loss of power, heat and water; and the numbers continue to grow.

            This figure is far higher than in previous years, a growth that the authorities have tried to hide but that Internet reporting regularly reveals. Moreover, the powers that be have blamed Russians for the problems at a time when the Kremlin is cutting back on spending for repair and modernization of such systems (

            As a result, Russians know about both the increasing incidence of collapse and also about Moscow’s failure to do much about it besides trying to pass the buck back to the regions and ultimately to Russians themselves. The only limiting factor to rising anger is that only 78 percent of Russians are linked to public water supplies and even less have heating and plumbing.

            According to Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s communal services system was created in Soviet times on the assumption that there would not be housing in buildings taller than five stories. Now, in major cities, such apartment buildings rise to as high as 33 stages. That puts unprecedented pressure on services, and these services haven’t been expanded to cope.

            To bring the system up to a sustainable level would take at least four to nine trillion rubles (40 to 90 billion US dollars), the construction ministry says (, about what Putin is spending on his war in Ukraine each month.

            But instead of spending more, the Russian authorities are reducing spending on the development of communal services by as much as half over the coming years. That means that as bad as the communal services collapse crisis is this year, it is almost certain to be worse by next fall. 

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