Sergei Sobyanin’s interview with Moscow FM radio station

24 September 2015

Natalya Peshkova: It’s unbelievable but true. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is in our studio right now. Can you imagine it? How do you do, Mr Sobyanin? We are so very glad to see you!

Sergei Sobyanin : Good morning, Muscovites! Good morning, Natalya! Good morning, Dmitry!

Natalya Peshkova : Good morning!

Dmitry Kaznin : Good morning!

Natalya Peshkova : We have lots of questions, of course, so let’s hit the ground running and gallop off.

Sergei Sobyanin : OK, let’s gallop.

Natalya Peshkova : Just this Monday you opened a new metro station, Kotelniki. It’s true that the Moscow metro has been developing at a striking pace in the past five years. Is everything proceeding according to schedule? Are you fully satisfied and when and where will the next station open?

Sergei Sobyanin : Kotelniki is a unique station. In order to get to Kotelniki, we first had to deal with Lermontovsky Prospekt station, then Zhulebino station, and then we finally could arrive at Kotelniki. It was the second metro station that we launched in the Moscow region. The first one was Novokosino — on the border between Moscow and the Moscow region. And now — Kotelniki. Many Muscovites wonder: “Why extend our line further into the Moscow Region; this puts an additional burden on the other metro lines. The situation on radial lines won’t improve, but will actually get worse.” A hard choice indeed.

In fact, this work has several pluses. First, those residents of the Moscow Region who poured into Vykhino, overcrowding it, will now disperse as they can choose between several stations: Vykhino, Lermontovsky Prospekt, Zhulebino and Kotelniki. That’s first. Second, in the past, for people to get to Zhulebino, columns of buses streamed in from the Moscow Region, clogging streets, lanes, parking areas and so on. Add to this a huge flow of cars. In other words, the number of people using this radial line won’t immediately increase, but be distributed more evenly, on the one hand. And, on the other hand, the number of vehicles in the streets is sharply decreasing. That’s a great plus.

But the mere extension of the radial line won’t solve the problem. Of course, new radial lines need to be built. And, in that same area, in the southeast, aside from the line to Vykhino and on to Kotelniki, a new radial line, Kozhukhovskaya, stretching to Nekrasovka, is being built. It will run virtually parallel to the current line and we will launch it, I hope, in 2017-2018. And this direction will really be unclogged.

Another, no less important project is Solntsevo. Local residents have been waiting for decades for a metro line to be built, as they have been told, and so on and so forth.

Natalya Peshkova : Yes, they are waiting, and writing to us.

Sergei Sobyanin: I remember when we were launching a special lane in Michurinsky Prospekt, a lady came up to me on a bus and said it was all very well that we now had bus lanes, but when would we have the metro here. I said we’d start building it shortly, but she didn’t believe me and said nothing could be built there because there was a water cut underneath, which required careful planning. We’ve been hearing all this for 20 years now, she noted. And I said I don’t know who said this to you, but we will build it. And we are. Hopefully, next year we will launch a line, then reach the Ramenki district, which is already half of the planned route. The next stage would be Solntsevo, Peredelkino and even further — Rasskazovka.

We have really ambitious plans. But the main projects will be launched not this year but at the end of next year, 2017 and also 2018 because there are a lot of preparations to make. At the moment, 35 stations are under construction, and we are also designing new stations. Why so slow-going? Why do we have to push back the deadlines by several years? Because we did not have any blueprints or backup to begin with. It is hard and time-consuming to do the blueprints, design the tunnels, allocate the land and draw up construction designs. This work might not be visible at the moment because it is mostly done underground, but it will soon come to the surface.

Dmitry Kaznin : You just broke great news: there will be 35 new underground stations!

Natalya Peshkova: Crazy!

Dmitry Kaznin: How is the Smaller Moscow Belt Railway project going? Do you have all the infrastructure built?

Sergei Sobyanin: Not yet. It is a huge project, as you rightly said, and the infrastructure is 70 percent ready. We need new mainline rails, electricity and other things to launch this surface circle line. Actually, I sometimes feel like giving the SMBR a different name.

Natalya Peshkova : You mean you don’t like the abbreviation?

Sergei Sobyanin: Do you understand what the SMBR is?

Natalya Peshkova: Many people confuse it with the MKAD.

Sergei Sobyanin : Exactly, with the MKAD or some kind of railway. What does it have to do with the city?

Natalya Peshkova: Let’s rename it right now.

Sergei Sobyanin: : Try, it’s all yours. It is basically the second interchange circuit that is part of the metro system. At the moment, the Circle Line is the only interchange circuit. The third interchange circuit is also underground, but it is still under construction. It is a time-consuming, difficult process. The SMBR is where an old ring, or a “rusty ring” as it used to be called, was. It went through industrial zones mostly. And now, surprise, it will become a surface, metro linking all metro lines with interchange hubs. In effect, it will be for changing stations. The metro administration will be in charge of transport, train traffic and train maintenance. So people will be able to use their metro cards, it will be the same system. In most cities of the world, even in all cities, except Moscow, surface rails are part of the underground network. Everything that goes on rails is the metro, regardless of whether it runs underground, overground or goes to some local lines. And here in Moscow we have metro lines that go overground, therefore the SMBR will be just another 50 kilometres of metro lines. It will operate like the metro lines and run on the same timetable. Besides, it will go through commuter hubs, which is equally important because almost two million people commute to Moscow daily. So this surface metro will allow them to change lines without having to go through major railway stations in the city centre. This project is of significant importance, and it is probably the largest in the world and very interesting. I hope we will be able to launch it in 2016.

Natalya Peshkova: Yes, I just wanted to ask when the circuit will be completed. As far as I understand, we can expect the Lefortovo transport hub and Nekrasovka to open soon, is that right?

Dmitry Kaznin : Many of our listeners have been asking about it.

Sergei Sobyanin : Nekrasovka for the SMBR?

Natalya Peshkova : The transport hub...

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, but we need to build the metro line to Nekrasovka first.

Natalya Peshkova: Oh, I see...

Sergei Sobyanin : It is a slightly different project, We are also working on it quite hard. It is part of the Kozhukhovskaya Line. I think we will get to Nekrasovka by 2017-18.

Natalya Peshkova : And they are also wondering if there are any plans to upgrade the surrounding areas, because there’s a lot of waste land there...

Dmitry Kaznin : Industrial zones...

Natalya Peshkova : Yes, industrial zones.

Sergei Sobyanin : We have no such plans for the time being. But when passenger service begins, then naturally investors will take a new look at these areas. Today, you can’t easily travel to this industrial zone, it’s just wasted land, a deserted area, but when the metro line is built, imagine what an interest investors will take in developing these industrial zones. Therefore, parallel site planning is underway: office buildings, shopping centres and blocks of flats around the transport hubs are already being designed, and so on. And of course, this will give a huge impetus to the development and complex upgrading of these industrial terrtories. I do hope that with time this “rusty ring” will turn into Moscow’s “golden ring.”

Natalya Peshkova : Renamed — that’s it.

Dmitry Kaznin : Mr Sobyanin, what’s your personal attitude towards the proposed renaming the Voykovskya metro station?

Sergei Sobyanin : My opinion comes second. The most important thing is how the residents themselves feel. So far, they’re saying: “No, leave our station as it is, we’re used to it.” The debates that have been held have revealed a strong dislike for the idea. Well, it’s a matter of time. We’ll wait and see how it goes.

Natalya Peshkova : Judging from how Bolshaya Ordynka has changed, pedestrians, as before, are getting priority. Well, this is sending a clear message to drivers that they are not the “kings of the world,” that the city must be comfortable for everyone. Do you think you have managed to alter motorists’ mentality over the past five years?

Sergei Sobyanin : It seems to me that everyone must be treated respectfully — pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike. They are all Muscovites. You, for example, drive pretty often, don’t you?

Natalya Peshkova : Yes, sometimes I do.

Sergei Sobyanin : That’s why it’s necessary to create a comfortable environment for all three. And we already have a more comfortable and more balanced urban environment.

Natalya Peshkova : So you feel that motorists are happy about what’s going on — I mean paid parking... All right, our next question is...

Sergei Sobyanin : Natasha, paid parking — who is it meant for in the first place?

Natalya Peshkova : For them, for us. Of course!

Sergei Sobyanin : Look, parking a car in new parking fee zones used to be a problem, almost impossible. These streets were clogged because of a row or sometimes even two rows of parked cars. As a result, the traffic came to a halt. On any street, two lanes were always filled — they just didn’t work. Now parking has become much easier and traffic speeds have increased. This is also a great relief to local residents: in the past, they just couldn’t figure out where to leave their cars — they left them on pavements, in the yards, and so on. Now life has become easier for them.

Next, buses and public transit are now moving faster through these streets. And an increasing number of people are finding public transit more comfortable. Plus, taxis are returning to the city centre. I used to ask taxi drivers: “Why do you avoid the centre? Yellow-painted taxis were nowhere to be seen. And you know what they replied: “We have our reasons not to go there. But all right, we can get in, but we never know when we’ll be able to get out — it could take an hour or even two hours. So we just don’t go in.”

Natalya Peshkova : No need to explain.

Sergei Sobyanin: Today, we can see more and more yellow taxicabs in the city. It’s good news when civilised taxicabs roll into the city, when you can call them anytime and go wherever you want. Metered parking revenues are used to improve those districts where metered parking zones are located and to improve courtyards, public gardens, roads and streets. As I see it, these developments are also quite positive.

Dmitry Kaznin: By the way, many people are asking how metered parking revenues are being spent. Here is another important question: Will metered parking zones continue to expand?

Sergei Sobyanin: All proceeds are spent in a centralised way to improve those areas where they are being collected. That is the first thing. Second, metered parking zones will, of course, continue to expand in those areas with major parking problems and heavy traffic near shopping centres and large office buildings. In any case, we actively consult the public and local deputies before introducing any new metered parking zones, and we make a decision only after doing so.

Natalya Peshkova: And can you tell us where new metered parking zones will soon be set up?

Sergei Sobyanin: I believe that after this stage of metered parking zones, we will complete another stage by December. In any event, this issue will be discussed.

Dmitry Kaznin: You have already mentioned public transit, you have noted that it has become faster, and that general satisfaction with public transit has increased by six percent since 2014. What, in your opinion, is the main reason for that?

Sergei Sobyanin: To be honest, these trends should be measured over several years, rather than months or one year. We can see that the number of public transit riders has increased significantly over the past five years. We saw their number plunge in previous years, and now it’s the other way around. What happened in the past? Buses would get stuck in traffic jams, and motorists were inclined to think that, instead of riding buses, it was better to sit inside their own cars and to listen to the radio. Today, buses use designated transit lanes, and they are moving pretty fast. Most importantly, they are running on time. Bus traffic has become much more regular.

Natalya Peshkova: Yes, do they run on time?

Sergei Sobyanin: Almost, but the situation has improved considerably.

Natalya Peshkova: Looks like I’m lucky.

Sergei Sobyanin: First of all, everything is relative. Second, buses have become more comfortable. We have replaced virtually all old buses. To date, the Moscow Transit Authority (Mosgortrans) operates the newest buses in Europe. These are environmentally friendly and low-floor vehicles. The same can be said about the metro. We have already replaced one-third of old railcars, we continue to modernise each year We have signed a contract for deliveries of new-generation railcars starting in 2017.

Natalya Peshkova: Are you talking about some absolutely new cars?

Sergei Sobyanin: Yes, brand-new cars with. new, more economical undercarriages that give a smoother ride and new interiors They are world-class, top-quality cars, made in Russia.

Natalya Peshkova: Wow!

Sergei Sobyanin: Of course, their appearance and comfort are improving. Prices, including ticket prices, are no less important. Of course, we continue to raise prices. But, speaking of developments over the past five years, inflation dwarfed our price hikes. In effect, 2010 ticket prices are 35 percent higher than current prices. This well-thought-out pricing policy also allows more and more people to use public transit.

Natalya Peshkova: Do you intend to toughen the requirements for passenger transport companies?

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes. We have the Moscow City Transport Authority, Mosgortrans, which is in charge of passenger transit. However, Moscow also has private transport operators, with their own standards. They had problems honouring schedules and sometimes failed to update their fleet. So we decided to introduce single standards for passenger transit. Next year, they will be working under municipal contracts and have to meet our requirements. Thus, privately operated buses will offer the same benefits to all passenger categories, including welfare beneficiaries, who until now did not use private transit as there was no benefits for them. There will be uniform standards in terms of vehicle design and schedule, while transport companies will be paid only when they comply with all of these requirements.

Natalya Peshkova : Not all companies will be able to comply, so only the best will survive, right?

Sergei Sobyanin : Those who win tenders will have to comply. The first projects of this kind are already in their pilot stage. The massive roll out of the new municipal orders system for public transit services will begin as early as October and is expected to be completed by April 2016.

Dmitry Kaznin : Car sharing is another new feature in the transport industry. Do you think that it will be popular?

Sergei Sobyanin : If the experience of other cities is any guide, it will and it is already a huge success. Car sharing is a service where people can pick up a car without a driver at a certain location and leave it wherever he or she wants. Car sharing rates are usually 30 percent lower than the cost of taking a taxi, which provides a financial incentive on top of the fact that you are able to drive the car on your own, without a driver. In Milan, Rome and a number of other European cities car sharing users account for 6-7 percent of drivers. This is a considerable amount. The fact that one car sharing vehicle replaces ten individual cars is also important in terms of easing traffic congestion.

Natalya Peshkova : Will there be more pick up points in the future?

Sergei Sobyanin : Of course. The project is now in the pilot stage with about 100 vehicles. By New Year the number will increase to 500 and subsequently it will gradually increase to 10,000 cars. And this refers to just one company that is currently taking part in this project.

Natalya Peshkova : 10,000 cars?

Sergei Sobyanin : Just to remind you, there are 55,000 taxis in Moscow, which is not surprising. Of course, car sharing services should expand operations not just within but beyond MKAD, reaching into the Moscow Region and nearby cities. This is the right thing to do, as all of these areas form a single urban environment.

Natalya Peshkova : The large scale project My Street is currently implemented in Moscow and everyone is really enthusiastic about it. Moscow residents had the opportunity to choose on their own what should be improved. How was this project implemented? There was some kind of voting procedure, right?

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, people used the Active Citizen platform to rank streets in terms of their importance for Moscow residents and have chosen the priority areas. They have voted for implementing a set of measures on these streets, so that they look and feel like the capital’s streets. We did what we promised to do — be it on a relatively small scale. Nevertheless, there were complaints about too much excavation work.

Natalya Peshkova : So the project scale was relatively small?

Sergei Sobyanin : Of course. This year we improved about 100 kilometres of streets, although the actual volume was bigger. However, given that the city road network is 4,500 kilometres, it would take 50 years to improve all of them.

Natalya Peshkova : Are there any plans to actually do this?

Sergei Sobyanin : We can always fix randomly selected streets, but this way others won’t see any improvements in the next thousand years. There is no doubt that we should ensure that the project is viable. This is not so much about pretending to do something as it is about actually doing things, so that most people can benefit from a people-friendly environment.

Dmitry Kaznin : I have a question about kerbstone. The My Street programme is more than just replacing kerbstone, right? What else does it include?

Sergei Sobyanin : The programme also includes fully reconstructing streets from façade to façade, including courtyards on both sides of the street. This also includes improving adjacent courtyards and parks, making them more people-friendly and convenient, and removing endless wires hanging in bunches above Moscow streets, so that barely any light gets through.

Natalya Peshkova : Sometimes they are not already suspended.

Sergei Sobyanin : On these streets, at least, they have already been removed. Special utility lines are built for communications and power cables. This frees up the Moscow sky, while the quality of communications networks and power supply is obviously improving. Street lighting is also changing with dozens of new lamp posts.

Natalya Peshkova : They are so pretty.

Sergei Sobyanin : Façade lighting, too. When walking or driving along the streets covered by the project, you couldn’t see half of the beauty that they had. Facades were in poor condition, covered with dirt and were not very nice to look at.

Natalya Peshkova : And all of these signs.

Sergei Sobyanin : When everything gets a facelift, the streets take on a totally different look. Take Myasnitskaya Street for example. Walk it now and try to remember how it used to be. I have passed it by car many times, and couldn’t get the feel of this street. Now it has become a gem among Moscow streets.

Dmitry Kaznin : Here is an issue that is mentioned often. Complaining about repairs is so human...

Natalya Peshkova : But once the repairs are over everyone is pleased.

Dmitry Kaznin : Once they get to walk on a newly renovated street, they start posting on social networks about the incredible improvements, etc.

Sergei Sobyanin : When I talk to residents from streets that are under renovation, complaints like this are few. Of course, such work causes discomfort. They understand this. But I have never heard anyone just ask workers to leave and not do anything. I haven’t encountered any such thing. That said, there are many complaints or — to be more precise — requests from people living on nearby streets. Here’s what they say: Mr Sobyanin, you’ve come to renovate a street nearby, and we can already see that it will look great...

Natalya Peshkova : Come and improve our street.

Sergei Sobyanin : ...so when will you improve our street?

Natalya Peshkova : The project will continue, of course.

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, the project continues.

Natalya Peshkova : Any Moscow resident who is not satisfied with how his street looks can log on to the Active Citizen portal and state as such.

Sergei Sobyanin : Of course. But we have to take into account that streets with the most foot traffic should be a priority. I think that is would be reasonable and fair.

Natalya Peshkova : Isn’t the project to overhaul outbound motorways also part of this initiative?

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, I did. By the way, My Street concerns not only historical streets. Eighty percent of the project is implemented not in the central areas. Over the past few years, we’ve completed about 120 kilometres of pedestrian streets, of which only 20 kilometres are located in central Moscow. The rest are beyond the Garden Ring. The bulk of the continuing renovation projects concern suburban areas and outbound motorways. Each outbound motorway is 10 to 15 kilometres long, which involve a huge amount of work. Additionally, these motorways have relief roads, which are not as broad as the motorway, but this doesn’t mean that the amount and quality of work in this regard should be of inferior quality. Large areas such as Kashirskoye and Varshavskoye motorways, Prospekt Mira or Leningradsky Prospekt involve a truly huge amount of work. But we will do it. Take Kashirka or the Varshavskoye Motorway, which has always been extremely, shockingly bad, with lopsided border stones, ruined lawns, dirty and “worn-out” houses that you could barely see their facades. Do you remember the Rosatom building near the outdoor market?

Dmitry Kaznin : Yes, of course, a huge building.

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, and shaped like a ship. But you could hardly see it for advertising, grating, cables and the like. We have cleaned it up, and it now stands clean and beautiful. Such districts are given a new quality and a new lease on life. They no longer make you feel ashamed or dissatisfied, as they are buildings we can be proud of.

Natalya Peshkova : Yes, people now post photographs on social networks, asking you to spot the differences and decide if they were made in Europe or Moscow. It’s impossible to guess sometimes.

Dmitry Kaznin : Right.

Natalya Peshkova : Yes, really. Healthcare is...

Dmitry Kaznin : Healthcare is certainly another one of the most important discussed issues. What has changed in this area in five years? For years patients complained about having to wait too long for ambulances to arrive and poor equipment in hospitals. Meanwhile, over the past year, the reduction of services as a result of federal reform added to that list. Are you satisfied with what is happening with clinics, and have you managed to receive sufficient feedback?

Sergei Sobyanin : Healthcare is such a big deal. I can tell you that our choice was the following: we could have left things well alone. It is a painful issue because all Moscow residents use local clinics and, sometimes, God forbid, hospitals. Unfortunately, all the same, we have to face that sooner or later. And, of course, any changes are perceived with caution — what will happen? Familiar logistics might change, and the buildings, technology and so on... And, of course, people often ask this question — won’t those changes make things worse for them?

But if we do nothing at all, it will definitely be worse.

Moscow healthcare, although quite good compared to other regions, is still getting worse each year compared to international standards, failing to keep up with new technologies and treatment quality. More people choose to go abroad. No matter how much we praise Soviet healthcare, it’s outdated. And we need to move on. Therefore, over the years, we have replaced most key equipment, technologically sophisticated equipment. So, today, we are at the level of London, Paris and even Berlin in terms of the availability of such equipment, including MRI, CT, X-ray and ultrasound machines.

As for ambulances, you probably know that today they arrive at least as fast or faster. In 2010, as I recall, the average time was 17-18 minutes. Today, it is around 12 minutes. It is not so easy to drive faster in Moscow. This requires a whole special methodology, including organising traffic. It isn’t easy for an ambulance to go fast when streets are clogged with cars. Yet they arrive in around eight minutes in emergencies such as car accidents.

Regarding clinics, you may recall that we used crowdsourcing to decide what we need to do to improve the performance of healthcare centres. As many as 50,000 people joined us in the effort — it was a huge crowdsourcing effort, one of the largest by world standards. We outlined a number of areas that needed to be improved, such as the work of local doctors and the issuance of medical certificates, and comfortable and convenience services, and the management of queues.

Today, we can say that queues have been significantly reduced, and most people even get appointments with specialists within a week and with general practitioners in less than three days. We are in control here.

When we see that requirements or standards are not met properly, say people have to wait a few days longer to be served, we respond quickly and correct the situation. This is important. Previously, we did not know how long people had to wait, how many days before an appointment becomes available, and we certainly didn’t know how long they had to wait in a queue outside the doctor’s office.

Natalya Peshkova : It must have been a shock when you found out..

Sergei Sobyanin : Well, we know now, and we have got this situation firmly under control. Of course, it is impossible to do everything at once, but with the help of Muscovites, we should be able to improve things — with their advice, control and feedback. This is important.

Natalya Peshkova : So you mean the waiting time has reduced.

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes. Until recently, waiting 40 minutes before actually seeing a doctor was common enough.

Natalya Peshkova : It certainly was.

Dmitry Kaznin : We had to include the waiting time in our plans.

Sergei Sobyanin : Today, the proportion of patients who have to wait over 40 minutes is down to 15 percent of the total number of visitors. This is good enough.

Natalya Peshkova : Speaking of the purchased equipment, can you cite any results? I mean, maybe early diagnosis has improved?

Sergei Sobyanin : Look, in the past MRI appointments were only available with one month’s notice. Today you can get it in a few days. As a result, far more people can undergo this sophisticated diagnosis procedure, which certainly improves the quality of diagnoses.

Dmitry Kaznin : What are your plans for this area? Are there any? It is clear the goal is further development, but specifically...

Natalya Peshkova : What about your plans?

Sergei Sobyanin : Of course, one of the most important... Equipment is a good thing and repairs, too, but one of the most important conditions is the qualifications of doctors. We must do everything for doctors to receive a good salary — there should be a competition for medical jobs; and we must ensure the good training and retraining of doctors. This is one of the main areas of our work.

Natalya Peshkova: Yes, doctors told me about the retraining centre that has been launched.

Sergei Sobyanin: At the retraining centre and other special centres, doctors can upgrade their skills with training models and online technology. Such centres can also monitor the quality of retraining. This is what these centres are for.

Dmitry Kaznin : Construction is another area that is of universal concern. What tasks for the future have you set for the profile department and what are you building first and foremost?

Sergei Sobyanin : We continue our routine work. We don’t plan to build some facilities this year and others next year. This is not how we operate.

We are focusing оn our main construction site — the construction of transport facilities, new junctions, metro stations and transit hubs. This will serve as the main area of our work in the next few years. The scale of work is large; the facilities under construction are complicated and require much attention and investment — so we will concentrate on this area. Naturally, we won’t forget to build kindergartens, schools, sports grounds, theatres and other cultural facilities that the city needs every day.

Natalya Peshkova : What major projects are planned for the near future? Maybe Muscovites have no idea about them but developers and builders are already excited about them and cannot think of anything else.

Sergei Sobyanin : You know about the development on the Zil Auto Works territory. The construction of an enormous sports complex is already drawing to a close; part of it has already been commissioned. The Ice Palace, with several sites, is already in operation. The water complex, with swimming pools and sections for synchronised swimming, is about to be put into service. A major residential development project has launched nearby. Nevertheless, half of this territory has not yet been put into operation and we are going to hold a contest on construction in the other half of the Auto Works. At the same time, we are drafting planning projects for different areas and roads and platforms for the Smaller Moscow Belt Railway. I hope that we will soon put into operation the Tekhnopark station, so that this territory is not only well-organised but also accessible by transport.

Dmitry Kaznin: Mr Sobyanin, literally last week I heard that the Moscow Region Government is considering the possibility of banning the sale of flats at the construction stage. In other words, they want to ban shared-equity construction. The Moscow Region authorities believe this will safeguard residents from many risks, especially during the crisis times. Does Moscow have such plans? Many people are concerned. How does Moscow control potentially risky development projects?

Sergei Sobyanin : Neither Moscow, nor the Moscow Region can ban it. This can only be done at the federal level. Both we and the Moscow Region are worried that high market turbulence may lead to the emergence of hundreds and thousands of cheated equity holders. Naturally, we are trying to protect our people. We have established a special commission for monitoring shared-equity construction. This means watching what developers do, whether they comply with legal standards, control their construction projects and timely provide flats to their interest holders. Needless to say, the law on shared-equity construction should be upgraded and we are now thinking of how this should be done in cooperation with the Moscow Region Government and our colleagues from the Ministry of Construction. We do not want to ban anything but only to protect people from dishonest developers.

Natalya Peshkova : What about the Parliamentary Centre construction project? At what stage is it now?

Sergei Sobyanin : We have endorsed the planning project for the Mnevniki territory. Now it is in the surveying stage. The Administrative Directorate of the President is staging a contest for the centre’s architectural image and once this is done they will embark on designing.

Natalya Peshkova : Have you seen what options are offered?

Sergei Sobyanin : Everyone saw them since they were published. I guess that the commission did not accept any of them, so a search for new variants is going on.

Dmitry Kaznin: Will the load be taken off the capital’s centre?

Sergei Sobyanin : I think, yes, to some extent, because some buildings that will be left by MPs will be converted into hotels and so the flow of people should decrease.

Dmitry Kaznin: Members of parliament are probably not very happy that they will have to leave central Moscow for a district with plenty of fresh air.

Sergei Sobyanin: Members of parliament ... Well, Mnevniki is not the worst area, and it will get a good road and a metro station. Huge parks with lots of trees and greenery are not far from Rublyovka.

Natalya Peshkova: They’ll build a new road there.

Dmitry Kaznin: Tell us please, how does the city plan to attract additional investors to the construction sector. If I’m not mistaken, new rules were introduced for investors this year.

Natalya Peshkova: And we’re going through some tough times.

Sergei Sobyanin: We’ve have passed a new public-private partnership act that provides additional opportunities for private investors in construction projects. Before, we had some tough regulations, and it took years to draft a concession agreement. So there are few projects in this area, although, as you know, the city has signed a concession agreement for building a northern alternate route of Kutuzovsky Prospekt. The project is already underway; the road is being designed. The new public-private partnership act sets forth even more liberal mechanisms for attracting private investors. We’ve been building new interchanges along the Moscow Ring Road, ramps for accessing shopping malls, transit hubs and so on. These projects will involve private investors, one way or another.

Natalya Peshkova: Our audience loves the integrated government services centres. Everyone who is used to spending God knows how much time in queues and shuttling endlessly from one queue to another are simply thrilled with these centres. Over the past four years, the city has created this system almost from scratch, and people are very grateful. This is true. And I’ve read that Moscow’s IGSCs are even better than those in London and Copenhagen.

Sergei Sobyanin: The international company Price Waterhouse Coopers conducted a survey and found that Moscow’s integrated centres are the best in terms of service standards and service deadlines. To be honest, I don’t know anything about integrated centres in London, but they have a different management system. I think our centres provide many more documents and services than the foreign equivalents. Because of Russian administrative processes, the need for a lot of documents, etc. obtaining benefits; this is not so bad, after all.

Dmitry Kaznin: Yes, on the contrary. This is such an interesting subject ...

Natalya Peshkova: Yes, of course.

Sergei Sobyanin: Indeed, this is a real revolution in terms of providing state services and relations between city residents and officials. The new officials smile at you, they are geared to achieve positive results and to provide high quality service as quickly as possible. This includes feedback, online queues and so on.

Natalya Peshkova: Where did you find them?

Sergei Sobyanin: In my opinion this programme is very successful, we need to develop it even further, to keep it, God forbid, from deteriorating, to find new and more convenient properties and to equip the centres with cutting-edge technology. So, this process will continue, and we’ll build more beautiful and modern integrated centres where people can receive essential government and municipal services in a comfortable setting.

Natalya Peshkova: As far as we know, the range of services continues to expand.

Sergei Sobyanin: Of course, we are including our federal colleagues in this process. And these centres are also providing many federal services, although not all of them.

Natalya Peshkova : Parks is an issue that all Muscovites like to talk about, because they’re right there, just around the corner. Our standards are impressive, but these high standards have influenced people’s expectations. Many parks have been upgraded, while others have been built from scratch. What’s the latest in this area? It looks like you’ve reached a plateau.

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, certainly, many parks have been renovated, but not all of them. Some parks need very serious attention. They used to be good, almost ideal before. But now people say they’re the worst. See what I mean? Let’s start working on this and create something that’s up to Moscow’s standards. We’ll certainly work on these parks, including Olimpiysky Park at Olympic Village.

Only recently we thought it was a good park, quiet and nice, and that it didn’t need many improvements. But the public started talking about it, and they asked why we hadn’t improved their park. This year, we’ve been working hard to upgrade it. There are many more parks like this, so we need to work on them.

Second, the Neighbourhood Park programme provides for creating neighbourhood parks, some of them very small and others pretty big. These park projects are based on the public’s proposals. They see a vacant lot or a protected area where nothing happens, where people only walk dogs or leave their rubbish, so we improve it [at their request]. We build about 50 neighbourhood parks a year. It’s hard work, half of it financed by investors, the businesspeople who live or work in a given district and who want to make a name for themselves.

Natalya Peshkova : That sounds good.

Sergei Sobyanin : And the other half comes from the budget.

Dmitry Kaznin : Yes, many businesspeople do this.

Sergei Sobyanin : People should not just be able to go to Sokolniki, Izmailovo or Gorky parks, but also to take a nice walk in their neighbourhood, in an apple garden or a park with sports grounds, including for working out, and quiet nooks where you can sit on a bench. This kind of urban environment is very important, people need it every day.

Dmitry Kaznin : Yes, but some people worry about what will happen to a park near them. But there are plans [which everyone can look up]. We have reported on this many times and have also invited officials from Mosgorpark [Culture Department agency that coordinates Moscow’s parks].

Sergei Sobyanin : Anyway, we discuss all our programmes with the public, and they know the list and also discuss what facilities they want to see in the parks.

Dmitry Kaznin : Some say there’re not enough amusement rides in the parks. Have you removed them as a matter of principle? And can you tell us about the children’s theme park that will be built in Nagatinsky Zaton?

Sergei Sobyanin : We mostly removed obsolete rides that had become dangerous, primarily in Gorky Park. Gorky Park also has a new style; it is now a nice place for taking a walk without listening to people screaming on those scary rides. But people want to have these thrill rides, and so we’ll install them, including at Nagatino, as you mentioned. This children’s theme park is a challenging project, and I hope we’ll start building it soon. There are also plans for a variety of amusement rides at VDNKh.

Natalya Peshkova : There will be rides there?

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, there too.

Natalya Peshkova : But some of the rides there have been taken down.

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, some of them. For example, the Ferris wheel is no longer safe. We’ll create a whole new amusement park at VDNKh that will become a new Moscow sight and one of the best parks like this in the world.

Natalya Peshkova : Great! I mean VDNKh is not complete without a Ferris wheel.

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, it will certainly have one.

Dmitry Kaznin : Besides the wheel, some pavilions have lost their historical look. Will you recreate them?

Natalya Peshkova : Yes, VDNKh is a huge project.

Sergey Sobyanin: Of course, they are being restored. As you can see, most have already been put into shape. We have stopped their ruination, as they were crumbling away before our eyes. Thorough scientific restoration is now being devised and conducted on the main entrance and on the Ukraine pavilion, which is in a deplorable state. Some pavilions are being restored by investors, including those from foreign countries, such as Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Other halls of a lesser historic value can be reconstructed more substantially, in order, for example, to create a pavilion for Rosatom, the nuclear energy corporation. Just yesterday, Mr Kiriyenko and I visited the exhibition centre and looked at the contestants’ drafts of the pavilion. At the same time, the Cosmos pavilion is being redesigned to accommodate an innovative recreational and educational centre, allowing visitors to play and get acquainted with the latest achievements in space exploration.

Natalya Peshkova: Well, thank God, no more fur coats and pussycats...

Sergey Sobyanin: Not just coats and pussycats. They used to sell brooms on the background of Gagarin’s portrait. It was sheer sacrilege. I was really shocked when I went there. But that’s how it was. Now, there is the project that I just noted and other new things such as the Mosaquarium, the largest ice rink in the world, the winter skating rink, sports grounds, and so on.

Dmitry Kaznin: An open-air, Zelyony theatre, and a lot more...

Natalya Peshkova: The Zelyony theatre is already in place...

Sergey Sobyanin: The Zelyonytheatre, and a pets’ corner, and the Kremlin riding school, and so on.

Natalya Peshkova: I read in the press that there will be a parking-meter area near the VDNKh. Is that true?

Sergey Sobyanin: If you read about it...

Natalya Peshkova: Well, it will require some space...

Dmitry Kaznin: You can consider it to be a resident’s request...

Sergey Sobyanin: I’ll find who wrote about this.

Dmitry Kaznin: Tell me something, Mr Sobyanin. The Moskva river is another separate issue, much spoken about, but I have a feeling... There have been many plans and proposals, but nothing is happening. Is there a prospect for development?

Sergey Sobyanin: How can you say that nothing is happening? Things are going on...

Natalya Peshkova: The Krymskaya Embankment is the most spectacular, of course...

Sergey Sobyanin: Thank you very much, Natasha...

Natalya Peshkova: I am sorry. Do excuse me...

Sergey Sobyanin: There was considerable debate as to why we wanted to rearrange the Krymskaya Embankment and how we dared to touch it, while there was also the art show and everything went just fine. Well, only a few people used to walk by in the course of one day. It was a real desert, all fine and wonderful. I went there alone and did not see anyone around. What purpose did the area serve? I really had some doubts about it myself. A dead-land where no one went — at least when it was like that. Well, I thought, we will put a lot of money into its improvement now and maybe it will be as empty as before. But nothing of the kind... Many people like to go there now.

Natalya Peshkova: Oh, there are crowds there...

Sergey Sobyanin: Many walkers, cyclist, and skaters. For artists, a comfortable show area has been arranged, with many more viewers. The project, in fact, embraces a long riverbank stretch from the Museon arts park on the Krymskaya Embankment to Vorobyovy Gory. I invite you to agree that it is a bit different now.

Dmitry Kaznin: Just a little...

Natalya Peshkova: I can’t disagree.

Sergey Sobyanin: The Moskva river has now the longest bank promenade in Europe. So, to say that nothing has been done is perhaps an exaggeration. Now, what about the Luzhnetskaya Embankment, which will be redeveloped alongside the reconstruction of the Luzhniki stadium? And the embankment that is part of the ZIL project? It will be also rebuilt to provide access to the edge of the water and so forth. There are numerous development projects, including the arrangement of bathing and recreational areas on bottomland meadows, some of which, like Tushino, are already making progress. Practically all of these areas will get involved in one way or another, either in large-scale construction projects, including high-quality embankment development, or the arrangement of recreation grounds in protected areas where building is not allowed. All of these areas must be made comfortable and well-developed, as a river is the heart of any city or town.

Natalya Peshkova : The centre of gravity...

Sergei Sobyanin : A jewel that adorns the city. And the Moskva River is no worse than the Thames. And I think it should be even better.

Dmitry Kaznin : Yes, definitely better.

Natalya Peshkova : Sport, Dmitry.

Dmitry Kaznin : Of course, sport. That’s the most important topic. When we talk about sport, we divide the issue and this topic into two sections. There is mass sport, or so-called street sport. There is nothing bad about it and today almost every yard has its own sports ground. And there is big sport. The World Cup is the first thing that springs to mind. So perhaps we should get to the World Cup first. Is everything on schedule in Moscow and what precisely is being done?

Sergei Sobyanin : Nothing is on schedule.

Dmitry Kaznin : Nothing?

Sergei Sobyanin : Everything is going much faster.

Dmitry Kaznin : Ouch! Well, as far as certain stadiums go — yes, it can be seen.

Sergei Sobyanin : True, two Moscow stadiums will host World Cup matches — Spartak and Luzhniki. Spartak has already been built, and we already beat the Swedes there. The Spartak metro station near the stadium was also built well ahead of schedule. An overpass and an exit ramp are being built on the Volokolamskoye Motorway.

Dmitry Kaznin: I am looking forward to its completion as I use the car every day. Everything is almost finished.

Sergei Sobyanin : Look, construction began several months ago. And they haven’t finished yet. What a shame!

Dmitry Kaznin : No-no.

Natalya Peshkova : They must do it overnight.

Dmitry Kaznin : It always seemed to me that we would never be able to build at such a pace, but it has suddenly proved otherwise.

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, it has. Just the same, it’s boringly slow. I would like it to be quicker.

Natalya Peshkova : Note that, please.

Sergei Sobyanin : Sometimes, I also wish I could...

Natalya Peshkova : Wave a magic wand?

Sergei Sobyanin : Yes, you wake up and see that everything has been built by the morning. But we live in real life, not in fairytales, and despite that you can see that we are building quickly and long before the championship. But these facilities, they are not so much for the World Cup as they are for Muscovites, for the city to be able to develop normally. Luzhniki is also ahead of schedule. Construction is in full swing. We have no doubt that we will build these venues. In addition, two more football stadiums are under construction. These are CSKA, which is nearing completion (the main work will be finished this year), and the Dynamo stadium, which is in the active design stage with preparatory work, fundamental work, etc, already in progress. The pace has somewhat slowed down as that stadium had initially also been included in the World Cup programme and designed for 40,000 seats, but this volume was then decreased and the stadium was redesigned. Nevertheless, it will be a beautiful, super modern stadium. The city will get five football stadiums, including the old Lokomotiv, a beautiful football stadium, too. So, Moscow will be the world’s football capital in terms of the number of stadiums.

Dmitry Kaznin : How do you receive feedback from city residents? I am referring to mass sports at the moment. Are courtyard workout stations popular? Is there demand for them?

Natalya Peshkova : Can they help grow the future users of these stadiums?

Sergei Sobyanin : This is a fairly complicated process. Almost every courtyard is designed to incorporate recreational areas, playgrounds and athletic grounds. Residents have different needs: children need playgrounds and senior citizens do not want noise from workout stations. How can these interests be reconciled? How can we ensure a particular project is suitable for everyone in a small courtyard? It is hard. Nevertheless, we seek compromises and discuss these projects with residents. In the end, people get used to the fact that a courtyard is slightly different than before, and there should be a place for everyone. As a rule, sports grounds are never empty. Anyone can see that.

Dmitry Kaznin : If someone wants a pool or a recreational centre built in their neighbourhood, who should they contact?

Sergei Sobyanin : You see, Moscow is such a densely developed city that finding a site for new construction is fairly difficult, so we do it carefully. Even if the issue concerns building new kindergartens, which are always in short supply. Even though we resolved this problem in terms of cutting waiting lists, the need for kindergartens is still there.

Natalya Peshkova : That is, kindergartens are a priority?

Sergei Sobyanin : More babies are born in Moscow, with an all-time high number of births occurring over the past 20 years. The construction of even a kindergarten leads to heated debates because the building will take up space in the courtyard and by far not everyone needs a kindergarten. The same goes for athletic grounds. However, if there is an opportunity to build a sports complex or a swimming pool, the priority is given to such projects. We put them up for auctions or contests to attract investors. Today, we are building about 20 such recreational centres with swimming pools. Thus, we are focusing on building recreational and cultural centres. We are asking district council heads and prefects to come and see us, if residents come up with such initiatives, so that we can implement such projects. They are not always conflict-free, but they are nevertheless a priority.

Natalya Peshkova : Mr Sobyanin, we have little time left. First, we have a present for you, which we will give you at the end of the programme. Second, perhaps, you would like to say something to Moscow FM listeners? It is Moscow FM, after all.

Dmitry Kaznin : We have a vested interest here, you see?

Sergei Sobyanin : What do you want me to say to the Moscow FM audience?

Natalya Peshkova : Tell them to be good.

Sergei Sobyanin : No, on the contrary, I want them to be more active, to post their comments on the Active Citizen website, to advance new projects and to monitor everything that is happening in our city. There are special mobile devices to monitor parking lots. It is a powerful monitoring mechanism. You can use them when you don’t like what is happening in your courtyard, to complain about a poorly functioning bus service or an outpatient clinic... Please be more active.

Natalya Peshkova : You want them to complain more?

Sergei Sobyanin : I want Muscovites to be actively involved in the city’s life, to help the Mayor and the Government. We can’t do things properly without them. Of course, I want to thank Muscovites for their patience. We create many problems as we implement our construction and renovation projects, but we do them for you. Thank you much.

Natalya Peshkova : Thank you.

Dmitry Kaznin: We have a lot of messages. We will pass them all to Mr Sobyanin. Many people thank you. We just did not read them out loud.

Sergei Sobyanin: And many people, I suppose, express criticism?

Natalia Peshkova : This is equipoise.

Dmitry Kaznin: People ask questions. They do not criticise but rather ask questions and express thanks.

Sergei Sobyanin: Good. Thank you. Naturally, it would be strange if people were pleased with everything. This never happens. Thank you!

Natalia Peshkova: This is an important gift that does not have a single flaw.

Dmitry Kaznin: A radio receiver from our...

Sergei Sobyanin: I must inform the Presidential Administration about all gifts.

Natalia Peshkova: It is very inexpensive.

Sergei Sobyanin: Out of order? Thank Heaven!

Natalia Peshkova: No, it is inexpensive and you don’t need to report it.

Dmitry Kaznin: It is in good working order.

Natalia Peshkova: Thank you very much, we were very pleased to see you in our studio.

Sergei Sobyanin: Thank you very much! All the best!

Natalia Peshkova: We were talking to Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin.

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

See also
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Interview with TV-Centre
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Moscow Mayor’s commentary for TV Centre television
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Sobyanin interviewed for Vesti-Moskva on Rossiya-1
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Interview with Postscript, a TV-Centre show
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