National Project Zariadye currently implemented in Suzdal, Vladimir Oblast, is about to miss the deadline, with just 70 per cent completed by December although the park was supposed to be ready by the end of 2019. In view of that, a request to extend project implementation has been sent to Russia’s Construction Ministry.
In 2018, the Construction Ministry announced an All-Russian contest for small towns and historic settlements. 50 million roubles were allocated to the Suzdal Zariadye project as the winner of a nomination. The project envisages works to tidy up Zariadye, Suzdal’s central part around the Gostiny Dvor [can be translated as “the Merchant Yard”]. They include improving the garden East off the Torgovye Riady [can be translated as “Trading Rows/Arcade”], developing the territory between the Gostiny Dvor and the Kamenka river, arranging a pedestrian route along the ramparts and the moat, organising a boat rental, and opening a cultural centre and an Office for the Celebration of Suzdal’s 1,000th Anniversary. The town centre will be improved with new pavements; new pedestrian paths coming from the Kamenka river bank will be fitted into the landscape, and pedestrian crossings will be equipped with wheelchair ramps. The river bank will be fortified and planted with bushes and perennials. By mid 2019 it became obvious that the project would be delayed considerably. Suzdal Mayor’s Office cites several reasons, such as the following: the money was transferred later than expected, the designing company submitted its documentation with almost two months’ delay, and then the Federal Antimonopoly Service interfered into the project. Basing on complaints from seven companies, the service suspended the choice of the supplier. Tatyana Mikahylova, Head of Suzdal Administration’s Legal Department, says the complaints were submitted by companies that weren’t even taking part in the tender. The Construction Ministry drew Suzdal authorities’ attention to the delay in September; the same was done by the Vladimir Oblast Administration and ONF [ОНФ, translated as the All-Russia People's Front]. It was followed by regional Governor Vladimir Sipiagin’s visit to the troublesome site in early October. The discussion revealed that the deadline wasn’t the only problem. Suzdal’s City Manager Sergey Sakharov said the project’s first stage alone would require 44.4 million roubles — almost the whole amount allocated by the Construction Ministry. Therefore, regional budget funds would be needed to complete the works. However, it wouldn’t be possible to allocate budget funds till next year, while the project had to be finished by the end of 2019. “Meanwhile, we will try to find out how come the project was designed for a larger than allocated amount”, says Ilya Potapov, Head of Vladimir Oblast’s Urban Engineering Department. Lawyer Alexander Postalakiy commented on the situation exclusively for wek.ru. “Concerning the causes of the missed deadline. The project started at a time when both federal and municipal authorities expected Svetlana Orlova’s re-election for the second term. But she didn’t make it. The new governor Sipiagin had to build his team and get into the swing of things; it all slowed down his interaction with municipal authorities on project implementation”. According to another expert, “The delay with Project Zariadye is unlikely to affect the career of City Manager Sergey Sakharov. He was just reappointed recently, and it wasn’t without help from federal authorities. But a missed deadline is a serious problem for the governor. He was elected over a year ago and hasn’t made any major breakthrough yet. It was no coincidence that Sipiagin forbade his press service to share any details or comment on his recent visit to Suzdal, devoted to the delay. I suppose joint efforts will bring the project to completion next year — not without problems or scandals, I think. Federal authorities will be asked for extra money more than once, while municipal and regional authorities will accuse one another of missing the deadline”. Svetlana Chekunova of the Russian Association of Political Advisers thinks that “Sergey Sakharov is a well-known politician whose interaction with the regional elite has been rather complicated in recent years. His appointment will enable him to re-enter the political arena, with Project Zariadye being a good opportunity to show what he’s worth. I’m sure he’ll have to seek financial help. The task is really serious and difficult”. Political analyst Evgeny Polkovnikov, Director of research company NARI, told wek.ru, “The construction of Zariadye in Suzdal faced a number of difficulties caused by both external and internal factors. Thus, the 2018 change of the governor delayed the signing of required orders by regional authorities. Besides, the project attracted much attention, and the designing company had to make certain changes and corrections following a public hearing. However, the current state of things and the announcements made by Sergey Sakharov, Head of Suzdal Administration, lead us to think that the project will be completed on time — that is, by the end of the year. So it’s way too early to speak about missed deadlines now. The situation in the town of Gorokhovets seems to be a much bigger problem. The town received a similar federal grant for urban development, but the works definitely won’t be finished this year. So it’s Gorokhovets that may become the sore spot for the governor and regional authorities, as postponing the launch will leave the region without new grants next year. Vladimir Sipiagin and his team are currently under close scrutiny by controlling bodies, the United Russia party and ONF. Therefore, it’s the governor whose reputation would suffer the most from missed deadlines, because he would most probably become the main target. As for Sergey Sakharov, he has been re-elected Head of Suzdal Administration recently, and his position looks stable to me. I see no reasons for a negative forecast on him”. Not long ago Sipiagin visited the construction site once again. With only a 76 per cent completion, it’s quite clear the works won’t be finished by the end of the year. Suzdal Mayor’s Office has already requested the Construction Ministry to extend till June 2020 the implementation of the project Suzdal–Zariadye–Activation.