Residents of the Moscow region of Khoroshevo-Mnevniki were promised an individual approach to each residential block and beautification of yards. And apparently it is going to be so good that it doesn’t matter what the residents themselves think about it. It was the crowd of extras that thought for them and voted for renovation of the capital area for the certain reward.
Everything will be all right
This year early December was marked by the hearings on the project of Khoroshevo-Mnevniki district planning. According to the head of the Moscow City Construction Department, Andrei Bochkarev, the hearings have been quite successful: 4 residential buildings under the renovation program are being built in the north-west of the capital. Two of them will be completed next year: on Demyan Bedny str., 22 and Mnevniki str., 10, building 1. Several buildings are also under construction on General Glagolev str., 5 and Karamyshevskaya embankment, 22, building 2/1.
At the same time, Bochkarev noted that 156 houses of more than 500 thousand square meters would be resettled in Khoroshevo-Mnevniki district as part of the renovation program. There have already been chosen 9 starting sites for that. “Three territories are only at the design stage. Geotechnical and environmental engineering surveys are being carried out there to assess the soil, and insolation indicators for the adjacent buildings are being calculated”, Bochkarev noted.
Before the hearings residents have been also promised that the site of the Moskvoretsky natural historical park in Khoroshevo-Mnevniki district along Novikov-Priboy embankment will be beautificated as part of the renovation program, said Sergey Kuznetsov, the chief architect of the capital. “The renovation program provides an individual approach to each residential block. Muscovites are to decide what to focus on during the beautification – either children's or sports grounds, places for quiet relaxation or new public gardens, walking and bicycle paths», said the chief architect of the capital, Sergey Kuznetsov.
Residents of the district have been told that such facilities as a multidisciplinary medical center on the Novikov-Priboy embankment and a health facility that will be able to serve 320 patients per shift on General Glagolev street are to be built soon. Another clinic for children and adults that will be able to serve 320 patients per shift is to be built on Marshal Zhukov Avenue. An integrated social service center will appear on General Karbyshev boulevard, and a large shopping and entertainment center is to be built in the sub-district 77 in the nearest future. “Pharmacies, shops, service and catering enterprises will appear on the first floors of new buildings, and that will create additional jobs. And due to the arrangement of a new network of intra-quarter driveways with sidewalks and parking lots, the transport accessibility of the area will significantly improve”, the architect noted.
"We are FOR renovation"
As part of the formal process, a hearing on the proposed changes was held on December 3. Needless to say it was quite successful. Now it’s time for Moscow City Expertise to study all the documentation. And it’s highly possible that the agency will support this excellent proposed project.
But the bad point is that “The Insider” witnessed that the paid extras were invited to hearings on the project just before the meeting of the authorities with the residents, where they could express their opinion about the project. Such information was voiced by the district activist Eudoxia Labazova and the municipal deputy of the Filevsky park district Vadim Korovin, who had conducted their own investigations.
Labazova, for example, reported that she had been able to get an access to a chat called “Rehearsal of December 2”. “When I was added to the chat, I received instructions for certain actions. To get to the rehearsal of the hearings, it was necessary to arrive at 13:00 in the Atrium shopping center, take a selfie, send it to a chat with my name, and only after that I was informed about the particular place of the rehearsal. Selfies are necessary for the subsequent payment, for everyone who sends selfies to the chat receives a transfer of 500 rubles for rehearsal, 700 rubles for work at the hearings + surcharge for various activities”, said Labazova.
Extras organizers also promise that you can earn more money if you ask a question at the hearing. “I wrote to them that I wanted to ask a question, and an answer with a question already prepared for me was sent to me immediately as a personal message. It was a question like “I am tired of living in an outdated old building, I want to live on the thirtieth floor! Me, my family and neighbors are all for renovation! "
Having learned my question, I arrived at the Atrium at the appointed time and sent a selfie with my name and surname. I joined some people in the hall of the shopping center and started waiting for the further instructions and talking to the other people. These extras turned to be experienced ladies in their forties, they had often participated in such events”, said Labazova.
The Insider activist’s story is confirmed by a video filmed by Korovin, where a female extras team leader instructed the hired actors: “All your passports should be in the covers. It is clear that you all have a different registration, but you give your passport to the registrar, he sees our business card inside, and then they will let you in.” The team leader also asked people from the crowd to support the speakers with slogans. After each answer to the question, we had to chant: “We are FOR renovation! We are for renovation!”
What is happening is illegal. Well, naturally
It is natural that all the lawyers interviewed by “Vek (Century)” have agreed that if there is evidence (and the statements of the district activists have good reason, if only to be carefully studied), it’s necessary to contact the law enforcement authorities. Moreover, they are ready to help residents of the Khoroshevo-Mnevniki district, and not only them.
“Of course,” said Natalya Tarasova, a lawyer, “the artificial creation of extras at any public hearing in order to influence their results is illegal. We are talking about situations where people are paid for expressing one opinion or another.” But, she believes, it is unlikely to bring the organizers of such actions to justice, since in practice it is difficult to prove the fact of a violation.
In addition, the opinions expressed at such hearings, as a rule, are advisory in nature and are not directly a consequence of the adoption of a specific decision by the authorities, although they may affect it, Tarasova added. Therefore, the most effective way is publicity and media attention.
If all the cited facts are confirmed, then the fact of a crime committed by a group of persons under article 292 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (official forgery) is evident, says the head of the public association “Right to Defense” Andrey Tyutyunin. The chain of interested parties includes officials, citizens, property developers, and policemen attracted by them for money. And then it is not surprising, the lawyer notes, that the work of the police in the search for criminals is carried out by concerned citizens. Now, citizens have to go a long and probably unsuccessful way in an attempt to make the police to respond to the crime identified by the activists, he states.
“But the article 3 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, talking about the people as the only source of power in Russia and its ability to exercise power directly, does not work, just like any other articles of this Basic Law. Our public organization is ready to provide legal assistance to the protesters. As a part of civil society, we can repulse legal lawlessness, ”Tyutyunin emphasizes.
In this situation, residents should complain to law enforcement agencies, as well as contact the media to draw more attention to this problem, agrees Alexei Gavrishev, a partner at BMS Law Firm. There’s not much chance those responsible would be prosecuted, but media attention can help ensure that the opinion of dissenting residents is heard by the authorities, he admits.
The prosecutor’s office can, in principle, deal with such a complaint, the lawyer recalls. And even if there are no consequences for the perpetrators, the results of the audit, the fact of the commission of a violation can be useful to residents. If in the future the results of the hearings are challenged, these facts can be invoked in support of their claims.
Defenseless against the authorities
This whole topic with renovation is very opaque, says Anna Bodrova, the senior analyst at the Alpari Information and Analytical Center. From the very beginning it has been clear that the mask of concern for residents of the sub-districts is concealing the interests of developers regarding the land where the old houses are located. And after the residents of the first resettled houses saw the quality of the new housing and were able to appreciate all the “benefits” provided by the Moscow authorities, the number of questions about the renovation increased dramatically.
But it will be difficult to prove someone’s fraud at the level of prepaid rallies, even if activists have made statements, the expert said to “Vek (Century)”. This requires painstaking data collection, analysis and, naturally, people's testimonies. Few people are ready to speak out claiming their first and last names. There is no doubt that Muscovites, moving from old, but high-quality housing to new "anthills", remain a loser. But in this case, there seem to be practically no other options.
In general, it is generally accepted in Russia that Muscovites enjoy a special position, privileges and preferences in the country. And in some ways it really is. But in the case of renovation, people simply lose their housing on conditions that are obviously unfavorable for them, and they cannot do anything about it.
Violations during the renovation are already so numerous that it is just right to say that renovation is, in fact, one big violation, states independent analyst Dmitry Adamidov. According to him, this is a violation of not only the law or some moral standards, but a violation of common sense as well.
So, as the expert said to “Vek (Century)”, the law on renovation at the time of adoption had already violated the housing, urban planning and land codes, as well as a whole bunch of building codes and norms. These codes are being gradually corrected now, but all the same, the mistakes haven’t been completely eliminated. The issues discussed at the public hearings are just a cherry on the top of the cake, which simply catches the eye due to a sloppy conduct.
Secondly, Adamidov continues, unlike the previous "Luzhkov" five-storey apartment blocks reconstruction program, the City Hall does not intend to seriously take into account the interests of the resettled residents. If in 2004-2012 those who were relocated to the worse district received, in general, better and more spacious housing, then according to the current renovation program everything is different: housing, as a rule, is not better, less comfortable and less quality. It only causes social indignation and antagonizes the citizens of Moscow against the City Hall.
Monitoring compliance with the requirements of project documentation and the quality of construction of new houses is very bad, the expert adds. As a result, we witness the cases of “extra” floors in certain houses or incidents when houses are built in the courtyards of old quarters in violation of all norms and rules (the infamous 47-48 blocks in Kuntsevo district), newly built houses are unsuitable for living (Profsoyuznaya, 96, k. 1) etc.
In addition, Adamidov concludes, along with ill-conceived “optimizations” of social infrastructure, all this will sooner or later lead to aggravation of existing urban problems and huge expenses for correcting managerial mistakes that may exceed the planned renovation costs in 5-10 years.
The expert is sure that in general the renovation program in its current form should be recognized not only economically irrational, but also politically harmful for the current government, since it undermines confidence in the state as a whole, and not only in the Moscow Mayor’s office, and erodes the symbolic capital that has begun to appear after the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Meanwhile, TVSS Renovation reports, the bill that gives Moscow authorities the right not to comply with all-Russian urban planning standards is currently being considered by the State Duma (the second reading is planned on December 17). The bill greatly simplifies the rules for taking land under multi-apartment buildings and allows the development of plots without actually setting limits for the height and density of the building. Thus, houses that stay clear of the renovation program can simply be demolished according to the “reconstruction” project, which was started in Kuntsevo district of Moscow and still has not been realized only because the defenders of their houses preferred to go under bulldozers.