Interview with the Vechernyaya Moskva newspaper

21 October 2014

Vechernyaya Moskva: Mr Sobyanin, what have been the most challenging issues in recent months?

Sergei Sobyanin: As usual, the main goal for September-October is to put together a budget for the next three years. On 7 October, the Moscow Government approved the Targeted Investment Programme, and on 15 October, we submitted to the Moscow City Duma a draft budget for 2015 and the planning period of 2016-2017.

VM: What should Moscow citizens expect from these documents, especially amid increasingly negative outlooks?

Sergei Sobyanin: The external situation really remains quite complicated. Nevertheless, Moscow is continuing to develop. The city’s economy maintains positive growth rates. Therefore, the new budget will guarantee the fulfillment of all our social commitments regarding benefits, subsidies and other payments. The Targeted Investment Programme will provide enough funding to continue the development projects that have been launched. As in the previous years, two-thirds of the funds, or one trillion roubles, of the total amount of 1.5 trillion roubles envisaged by the four-year Targeted Investment Programme, will go toward transport-related construction.

VM: Does this mean that the current rates of metro and road construction will remain the same?

Sergei Sobyanin: By the end of 2017, we aim to open 40 new metro stations and build and renovate over 350 kilometres of roads. This is a more ambitious goal compared with the previous four years.

VM: Could you name the main construction projects?

Sergei Sobyanin: For metro construction, these are extensions of the Kozhukhovskaya, Kalininsko-Solntsevskaya and Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya lines. About half a million people live or work in areas adjacent to each of the new lines, so in total more than one and a half million Moscovites will benefit from this new construction , or one in eight Moscow residents.

In addition, in 2016, we plan to open the first section of the Third Interchange Circuit from the Delovoi Tsentr station to the Nizhnyaya Maslovka station, and to launch the construction of the remaining sections of the Greater Ring metro line. VM: Is road construction still mainly focused on outbound motorways?

Sergei Sobyanin: No, it isn’t. The programme on renovating outbound motorways is nearing completion. We just have to complete the modernisation of Mozhaiskoye, Entuziastov and Shchyolkovskoye motorways, and Ryazansky Prospekt.

I think we have done everything we can to increase the traffic capacity of outbound motorways, with the exception, perhaps, of some roads, such as Volokolamskoye Motorway and Volgogradsky Prospekt, which require an individual approach.

The main task for the next several years is to reconstruct interchanges on the MKAD Moscow Ring Road and to build the North-West and North-East Expressways and the Southern Expressway, which will ease the load on the busy centre and the Third Ring Road.

In addition, we will renovate Kaluzhskoye Motorway and other roads of Moscow’s newly incorporated territories.

VM: Billboards have been dismantled along many motorways in recent months...

Sergei Sobyanin: This has to do not with reconstructing roads, but with streamlining the outdoor advertisement market. The total advertising area in Moscow was reduced by over 87 percent. In 2011, we made an inventory of outdoor advertisement and counted two million square metres of various posters, billboards, banners and the like.

The new advertising area is only 263,000 square metres, or about 9,000 billboards, stands, and posters, arranged in strict accordance with certain rules. After getting rid of excessive advertising, Moscow streets have become much more beautiful and attractive.

VM: You once said that investors pay $250 million per year to the city budget for the right to place outdoor advertisement.

Sergei Sobyanin: I was speaking before our foreign colleagues, so I converted the sum into dollars. Of course, investors pay in roubles: 10 billion per year. Previously, before the order was restored, they had paid almost nothing. So now street billboards work not only for commerce and the advertising business, but they also bring some income to the city’s budget.

VMLet’s get back to the issue of construction. Roads and metro lines account for two-thirds of the investment programme. Do schools, kindergartens and outpatient clinics make up the remaining one-third?

Sergei Sobyanin: Mostly yes. We should also add sport facilities, theatres, social housing and utility mains here. The plans call for 70 new outpatient clinics and hospital wings, 127 kindergartens, 76 schools and extensions to existing schools.

By the way, the Moscow Government has seen to it that the city will pay nothing for many of these construction projects. Investors are building them out of social responsibility and will give them to the city free of charge. I can assure you that there will be no shortage of places for Moscow’s children at schools and kindergartens.

VM: And what can you say about housing construction?

Sergei Sobyanin: Investors primarily build housing in Moscow — about three million square metres annually. This pace will continue in the near future. At the same time, the quality of flats inside the most popular prefab residential buildings should improve considerably. We have notified construction companies that, as of 2016, they should be building more comfortable housing — with higher ceilings, free flat layout and bright and beautiful façades.

The city plans to build 186 new blocks of flats. This will make it possible over the next two to three years to relocate tenants from rundown five-storey buildings scheduled for demolition. These people are tired of waiting, and it’s high time we completed this programme.

Moscow pedestrian zones set to expand

VM: The recently renovated Nikolskaya, Pokrovka, Maroseika and Pyatnitskaya streets are now so brightly lit and cosy. The last time you gave an interview to our newspaper, you discussed the My Street programme for improving Moscow’s pedestrian areas. Can you name any specific addresses?

Sergei Sobyanin: We will improve the pedestrian environment all over Moscow, primarily near the most congested metro stations. There are dozens, hundreds of locations — too many to name.

Experts have assessed levels of pedestrian traffic and surface transit traffic in central districts. Their findings made it possible to identify about 20 streets and squares with the greatest number of pedestrians. And we will improve them over the next few years. It appears that Triumfalnaya Square and Myasnitskaya Street are next in line.

VM: Eighty-three kilometres of the Moskva River lie within city limits. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many beautiful and convenient embankments outside of the central districts. When will the Moskva River waterfront no longer be roads but popular leisure and recreation areas instead, like Gorky Park and the area around the Central House of Artists?

Sergei Sobyanin: Are you suggesting that we create pedestrian zones like the Krymskaya Embankment along the Moskva River waterfront? Unfortunately, it would be hard to implement this idea. The Krymskaya Embankment became a pedestrian zone in the first place because there have always been few cars there.

Other central embankments of the Moskva River are major transport arteries of the city, and it is impossible to stop all traffic there, because the entire transport system would collapse as a result. Instead, we will build new pedestrian embankments at former industrial zones and other misused territories. For example, we plan to do this where the Likhachov Automotive Plant (ZIL) was located and also in the Nagatino District.

The 2015 goal is to upgrade doctors’ qualifications

VM: The Moscow Government has been improving the city’s healthcare system for the past three years. Now, if you need to get a CT scan, we don’t need to apply for it at a federal hospital six months in advance, but only two to four weeks in advance at a district outpatient clinic. Is the upgrade complete?

Sergei Sobyanin: I’d say that we have accomplished about half of our plans. We have installed new equipment. Our hospitals and outpatient clinics now meet the healthcare standards of their more successful counterparts in Europe and the United States.

The next task is to upgrade our doctors’ qualifications, which should correspond with the standards of the new equipment.

The modernisation programme included the supply of laparoscopic instruments for minimally invasive surgeries at all Moscow hospitals. The city no longer needs surgeons who can only use a scalpel, so they will have to be retrained in order to provide higher quality medical assistance. The same goes for other specialists.

We have created the necessary conditions for retraining doctors in Moscow.

VM: several months ago you presented a University Clinics project. What is it all about?

Sergei Sobyanin: Medical universities and hospitals are often located across the street from each other in Moscow, but it’s as if they exist on different planets. The University Clinics project is aimed at closing this gap, so that the best university specialists, professors and doctors of science not only train future doctors, but also provide treatment for patients at ordinary city hospitals and outpatient clinics.

VM: Can you tell us about the project to build a new block for Morozov Children’s Hospital?

Sergei Sobyanin: We have started building it, and we are on schedule. It will be a building for 500 beds, a new ultra-modern hospital that will take care not only of Moscow children, but also children from across Russia. The new block will also be more comfortable for mothers than the hospital’s old buildings.

We have also started building a unique perinatal centre for newborns with cardio-vascular deficiencies at City Clinical Hospital No. 67 on Salam Adil Street.

Outdoor skating rink to appear at VDNKh this winter

VM: Thank you, Mr Sobyanin. To wrap up our interview, if you could briefly answer a few questions from our readers. Will the programme to create neighbourhood parks be continued?

Sergei Sobyanin: Yes, as long as we are able to create new green spaces in walking distance of residential areas, we will continue to do so. We are developing the 2015 programme, which includes about 50 locations.

VM: Will the regional food fairs that opened in late August continue to operate?

Sergei Sobyanin: The existing 70 sites cannot always be used for fairs. The regions have also become a little tired of working at such a pace. Therefore, we decided to keep 20-30 sites for regional fairs which will remain open almost year-round. The regions supplying goods will rotate regularly.

VM: Thank you for the free Wi-Fi in the metro, though mobile reception is still bad there.

Sergei Sobyanin: It’s too soon to thank me. You should judge the project at the end of 2014, when all lines are equipped with Wi-Fi. The creation of high-quality infrastructure for mobile communications is a goal for the coming years. Now experts are looking for technical solutions to make the project quick and relatively inexpensive.

VM: When will the programme to establish integrated government services centres in each district be completed?

Sergei Sobyanin: Integrated government services centres have opened in 98 out of 125 Moscow districts. New centres open almost every month, and the programme will be completed in 2016. In addition, most municipal and federal services are now available regardless of place of residence. If you do not have a centre in your district, you can apply to a neighbouring one.

VMThis year, many Moscow residents began to spend more time at the VDNKh. What entertainments will be offered to them there in winter?

Sergei Sobyanin: People will be able to go for walks, get fresh air, visit fairs, exhibitions, and skate at a big outdoor ice rink.

VM: Thank you, Mr Sobyanin, for this interesting conversation.

Sourse: The website of the Mayor and the Government of Moscow

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