Tearing down the khrushchoby: From renovation to deportation to revolution?

The demolition of a khrushchoby building (Image: Vas_Nick via Panoramio)

The demolition of a khrushchoby building (Image: Vas_Nick via Panoramio) 

International, More

Igor Yakovenko

Igor Yakovenko

The Kremlin’s backing for Moscow city’s decision to tear down the infamous five-story “khrushchoby” apartment buildings and for extending that program to other Russian cities represents “renovation” in the eyes of the authorities, “deportation” in those of the residents, and could spark “a revolution,” Igor Yakovenko says.

Khrushchoby – is an amalgam of the Russian word for slums–trushchoby–and Khrushchev. It is a derogatory name for five-story apartment buildings shoddily built en masse across the Soviet Union from prefabricated concrete panels during the rule of Nikita Khrushchev (1953-1964) and continued through mid-1980s. The buildings do not have elevators. The intent behind the five stories was that the design was the cheapest to build given the building technology of the era.

Even those who would like to live in better places are angry about the program because it violates their rights and because they can see that the Kremlin is taking this step to push poorer people out of the center of cities to the periphery so that wealthier ones and businesses can move into the spaces they vacate, he says.

The Moscow commentator points out that the most consequential aspect of the Gaidar reforms in the 1990s was the privatization of people’s residences. “Millions of people became owners of real estate” and that made them feel independent people rather than serfs of the state. Now, the Moscow mayor and the Kremlin leader are seeking to drive them back to their earlier status.

Moscow city officials have been moving in this direction for some time, doing away with kiosks and other businesses that in any way were at variance with the interests of the top one percent. And now with Putin’s approval, this attack has been broadened from small businesses to ordinary Russians.

Given Putin’s support for this attack, Yakovenko says, “it is useless to ask what will be the fate of commercial property in the buildings being torn down,” and “it is useless to ask where the means will come from to move pensioners, invalids and the poor,” especially because the costs of “renovation” far exceed Moscow’s budget.

What that means in turn is that renovation won’t really happen but instead become another “black hole” for the disappearance of public money into the pockets of the Putin elite. The Russian people are once again being reduced to the status of serfs, and they are at risk not only of losing their residences but their self-respect.

“For a long time already, no one has been posing questions to Sobyanin and Putin, or even more to the deputies in the State Duma,” the commentator says. But “there is a question for Muscovites” now and residents of other Russian cities in the near future that no one can avoid asking.

“What else must Putin and his gang do in order that a million people will go out into the streets of the capital” to protest the Kremlin’s attack on their rights? What they are doing now should be enough, and a million demonstrators in response is “enough for a start.”



Edited by: A. N.

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