JRL NEWSWATCH: “Baron Sobyanin; Moscow’s mayor squashes competition but transforms his city; Sergei Sobyanin has turned his city around” – The Economist

Sergei Sobyanin file photo

“… The previous mayor, Yuri Luzhkov… ruled Moscow as a medieval fief since 1992, developing a reputation for corruption and crass taste. Historic buildings … crashing down, glitzy shopping malls … traffic [grinding] to a halt … his [construction magnate] wife became the country’s richest woman. … Sobyanin set out to break with the Luzhkov era …. focus[ing] on urban planning and public space. … [with] wide pavements … city-sponsored bikes and scooter-sharing programmes. Less visible … has been the modernisation of government services. ‘One-window’ hubs have streamlined bureaucratic processes …. Critics charge that the changes have been cosmetic. New streets … at the cost of lower social spending. … Sobyanin’s demolition of small street kiosks, and hasty plans to raze ageing housing stock and resettle residents, betrayed a troubling disregard for private property. Improvements in quality of life have come with tighter limits on political freedom. …”

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[featured image is file photo]