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The Kremlin's plan looks great on paper: move 10 percent of Moscow's population from their crumbling old "temporary" postwar housing to shiny new apartments in exchange. The effort to move about 1. But some of those affected are up in arms over what they claim is a lack of consultation and, indeed, any clear information about when they are supposed to be moved, and where. The plan could take up to two decades to fulfill, but all the decisions about it are being made now — mostly behind closed doors. Many residents say they fear that they will be shifted into enormous housing developments on the city's outskirts, without the green space and the community surroundings they are accustomed to, while the often valuable downtown real estate their old buildings sat upon will be handed over to developers to construct luxury housing for the rich.

It sometimes looks to us like our authorities work exclusively for the benefit of construction companies. The vast construction program that planted tens of thousands of the nearly identical structures in cities across the Soviet Union was hailed in its time as a great achievement. Millions of Russian families received their first self-contained apartment in those years, along with other amenities like their first refrigerator, TV, and college education. But many of the buildings began to fall apart within a few years, while Soviet leaders' promises that communism would arrive to solve all these mater problems grew threadbare.

The joking description of these buildings became "Khrushchobi," a combination of Khrushchev's name and the Russian word for "slum," trushobi. Many of the hastily erected five-story apartment blocks are indeed dilapidated, dingy, and long past their expiry date. Residents mostly complain that they've been ignored for decades, and even now aren't being given any information about the long-awaited move.

Some have already been demolished and replaced. But other structures were built solidly, in the midst of wide green spaces that were mandated by Soviet urban planners. Many of the people living in them say they really don't feel like going anywhere. But, they complain, no one is asking them. This is a good place. The walls are strong, the district is very quiet, it's beautiful and green in summer, the river is nearby, and we have plenty of parking," says Natalia Ammosova.

She lives in a cramped two-room apartment in the Khrushchevka with her husband and two children, in the Moscow district of Khoroshyovo-Mnevnik. The apartment was constructed in by a Soviet army brigade and, unlike some of the faded prefabricated buildings of the same type nearby, it's made of bricks, with a tiled exterior, and looks like it could last forever.

Real Russia – Typical Russian Apartment – RUSSIA TODAY

The two children sleep in a bunk bed, while their parents have a curtained-off space for themselves, and there's even a piano in the tiny main room. There's a minuscule kitchen, and another small book-lined room that appears to serve many functions. Not many North Americans would find that livable.

​The Russian housing dream vs reality

It's small but it's cozy," says Ms. Ammosova, a middle-aged professional. We will have to be gone within 60 days or they can just force us out. That's the way things are done. And we have no idea what we might get in exchange. We just feel awful. A three minute walk away is another of the familiar oblong, five-storied structures. But this one is made of enormous concrete panels that were slapped together six decades ago and never repaired since. Some balconies are visibly falling down, the stairwell is badly lit, and there is no elevator — a feature of all these buildings. The balcony can't be used, the wind howls through the windows in winter, and my mother can't make it up the stairs anymore," she says.

The authorities have an obligation to move us to a better place. If you previously purchased this article, Log in to Readcube. Log out of Readcube. Click on an option below to access. Log out of ReadCube. Volume 38 , Issue 2. The full text of this article hosted at iucr. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username.

Book Review. Michael Gentile University of Helsinki Search for more papers by this author. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. The apartments here were sold to middle class people, and none of them were allocated via social programs Postanovlenie Pravitelstva Moskvy Source BTI To better understand socio-spatial stratification of Moscow, one needs to consider long-lasting spatial patterns of housing prestige, which were formed in the 19th century and are still pronounced in the cityscape.

There are two major gradients of housing prestige in Moscow: center-peripheral and sectoral or West-East Popov The sectoral differentiation is almost as pronounced as center-peripheral; outside the city center it becomes the prime determinant. There are three such vectors: north-western, south-western and western. Nationalization of housing in the Soviet Union and the following centralized distribution resulted in a deep social and residential interfusion, when people of different cultural, social, and financial levels began to live in the same apartment buildings or neighborhoods.

Nevertheless, even the new mixed reality was not uniform across the city. Social composition of housing estates was determined largely by the institution that received the property for its employees. Social stratification existed but was based on occupation rather than income Vendina In the post-Soviet period, the emergence of a free housing market, new commercial development, reorganization of industrial enterprises, and finally, increased in-migration and intra-urban mobility of the population were the factors that determined the evolution of socio-spatial stratification in Moscow Popov As was noted in the introduction, a significant challenge for our research is the absence of official data on main population characteristics.

Stratification via property is studied using data on housing ownership because rental arrangements are largely undocumented. The evolution of property stratification is approximated via transactions in both primary and secondary housing markets. At the level of city districts, the average prices for housing clearly show the south-western and north-western prestige vectors.

Interestingly, the new elite of the s have been choosing the same locations that were considered prestigious in the era of a planned economy. These areas have some objective advantages like transport infrastructure, amenities, and aesthetic living environment, i.

The property stratification derived from the housing transaction data shows much less stratification in the eastern districts compared with the western locations. Car ownership per people in was highest in the areas of freshly built top-level housing. Thus, the level of motorization is mostly useful for identifying the new most prestigious residential areas. Educational stratification. A lack of opportunity to freely change the place of residence in the Soviet era created a tendency of settlement near the places of employment, which formed clear boundaries between the zones with population of different educational level.

The modern spatial pattern of educational stratification largely inherits patterns of the Soviet era. Higher levels of education were typical not only for the population of the city center, but also the districts located on the south-western and north-western vectors of prestige, where the scientific elite of Moscow State University and the institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union received housing.

The belt of housing estates along the north-western vector of prestige was populated by scientific personnel of the aviation and space industries, as well as representatives of creative intelligentsia. The least educated population resided in the industrial east and south, as well as in the northern periphery.

The areas of intensive commercial housing construction in the most recent decades usually attracted new residents of higher educational level, as buyers are mostly middle-class people Popov, personal communication, ; Kuricheva, personal communication, To delineate the areas of old and new prestige, we use data on spatial distribution of scientific staff. From the Soviet time, the popularity of a neighborhood among the scientific elite was closely associated with the overall prestige of a district.

Even today only areas located along the south-western and north-western prestige vectors have relatively high proportions of residents with scientific degrees.

Homebuilders face cost pressure as Russia tightens rules on presales

One of the reasons why academic degrees give such a clear distinction lies in the fact that, while the acquisition of higher education in general became more widespread, getting an academic degree is still almost exclusively an endeavor for people of higher social strata.

Electoral pattern of stratification. Electoral geography of Moscow is well-covered in research Kolosov and Borodulina ; Zhidkin For the purposes of interpretation, we divide the political spectrum into four broad types communist, democratic, pro-Government, remainder , and conduct analysis for two periods: — and — The support of democrats is higher in the areas of rapid social replacement, where younger and more educated people settle.

Given the fairly stable electoral preferences of the main social groups, the dynamics of voting results can be used to assess changes in the social structure of districts. Central districts, where the process of gentrification is going on, are notorious for their support of democrats, while the leader of democratic voting is the new middle-class district Kurkino. Territories with mass housing construction in the first wave of post-Soviet development, as well as renovated districts, show tendencies towards democratization. Some transformations of social structures happen uniformly, while others contribute to polarization of the social cityscape.

Homebuilders face cost pressure as Russia tightens rules on presales - Reuters

The key role in the process of stratification is played by re-distribution and replacement of population via intra-urban mobility and in-migration. Generally, the level of ethnic and social segregation of migrants in Moscow is quite low Demintseva ; Kashnitsky and Gunko Migrants are able to settle in virtually any districts of the city due to the rich variation of their residential strategies Demintseva The rate of social structure renewal is approximated in the current research by activity in the real estate market.

We evaluated the activity of the primary market through the volume and qualitative characteristics of the newly constructed housing stock, and the secondary housing market, through the number of registered housing purchase transactions. The coefficient of social renewal is the arithmetic mean of the normalized renewal ratio of the housing stock and housing transactions.

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We interpret this composite index as the rate of physical change in the composition of population. Spatial patterns of the social renewal coefficient. Source BTI ; Rosreestr Overall, by the beginning of the s, the social structure of the city was self-reproducing preserving most of the Soviet patterns of socio-spatial stratification. Interestingly, new construction of cheap mass housing does not lead to deterioration of the social structure, but rather improves it.

The reason is the general inflated cost of housing in Moscow. As a result, buyers of commercial new buildings, even in the most inexpensive segment, are young, civically-active, educated people with relatively high and stable income Popov, personal communication, Furthermore, new housing now is designed to include room at the ground floor for shops, cafes, and other services that are in high demand by local business, which, in turn, positively affects the quality of life in such areas.

Therefore, newly developed areas, even those being built up with relatively low-budget housing estates are, in many respects, the centers of positive change on the periphery. However, by the end of the s many buildings were already in derelict condition Department of Urban Development Policy In , four apartment buildings were dismantled in Novie Cheremushki district, although demolition did not become widespread.

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The cost of neighborhood reconstruction was not included in the city budget so a private investor became involved in the project. It was intended to demolish apartment buildings according to the type series, thus covering entire housing estates; however, the approach was to evaluate buildings on an individual basis. The program contained strict criteria and reasons for demolition.

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In order for each particular building to be subjected to demolition, it had to undergo a thorough technical examination to determine its condition and inhabitability. In total 12 million m 2 out of 20 million of housing have been demolished in the course of the program Pertsova By the beginning of , around seventy apartment buildings entitled to demolition within the framework of this first phase remained in Moscow Department of Urban Development Policy To relocate residents, new housing was built in the same district by private investors, who had signed a contract with Moscow Government.

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The excess of apartments was sold freely on the market. Owners of apartments in the apartment buildings entitled to demolition could refuse relocation options proposed by the Moscow Government and require alternatives. Also, there was an opportunity to move into a larger apartment including one located in another district by paying for the extra square meters at a market price. In other districts, replacement housing comprised typical post-Soviet panel housing estates. Apartment buildings were not only overhauled, including improvement of water and electrical supply systems, energy efficiency, and soundproofing, but often increased by two or three floors.

Residents of such reconstructed buildings did not pay the investors. Investors made their profit from the sales of new apartments located at the overbuilt floors Pogorelsky In February , the question of five-storied housing stock renovation was raised again by the current mayor, Sergey Sobyanin Moscow City Hall a. Although, there are a number of successful examples of reconstruction of five-storied apartment buildings in other post-socialist cities, as well as in Moscow itself, Moscow Government is campaigning in favor of mass demolition Pogorelsky ; Russian Agency for Legal and Judicial Information The initially named volume of the project was apartment buildings which would result in the resettlement of around 1.

Later, the list of buildings to be included in the program was reviewed. Formal criteria were: date of construction between and , use of standard construction material and techniques, and maximum height of 5 storeys. During one month from 15 May until 15 June , a vote was taken among apartment owners and tenants if the apartment was not privatized for the inclusion of apartment buildings from the preliminary list into the program. They could cast their vote through online applications or at meetings of property owners.

For the building to be included in the program, two thirds of apartment owners and tenants had to vote for the inclusion. After voting the program included apartment buildings Moscow City Hall b. The preliminary list did not include nine-storied panel housing; however, Sergey Sobyanin noted that the city government will consider the possibility of their demolition with the consent of residents, if those apartment buildings are in poor condition and fall within the quarters chosen for the demolitions Stulov By August , the renovation program included apartment buildings Moscow City Hall c.

Moscow Government announced plans to hold an international architectural contest for the development of new neighborhoods which will be erected at five experimental sites in the city Vedomosti According to Sergey Sobyanin, the number of storeys in new apartment buildings will be up to twenty, individually determined for each neighborhood Moslenta The new program has been criticized by many experts and civic activists e.