After thousands of protesters took to Moscow streets Sunday to rally against a bill that would allow entire neighborhoods to be torn down, the local government seems to be slowing down its plan, ABC News reports.
Many activists also say the move is just a way to enrich developers. Backing up their claim: The demo would include buildings that are still in good condition in what have recently become desirable, expensive neighborhoods, and ignore some of the city’s most dilapidated housing in less attractive neighborhoods.
Sobyanin and City Hall seem rattled by the public outcry against the bill, according to ABC, and the mayor suggested the parliament postpone its vote on the law until July.
Protesters carried the flags of their neighborhoods and signs reading “We are not serfs,” “No to the demolition of the constitution!” and “Renovate the government!” While police estimated the protesting crowd as low as 5,000, an independent group that provides crowd tallies said just over 20,000 people showed up, and protest organizers said up to 30,000 people attended. The Times said the demonstration was organized mainly by women and “galvanized people who described themselves as previously apathetic.”
The debate signals a larger conflict over the socioeconomic effects of Moscow’s rapid modernization. In an op-ed for Next City last year, Mirjam Büdenbender and Daniela Zupan wrote that urban planning in Moscow needs to be rebalanced.
“This requires, first of all, a profound shift from favoring certain segments of the population (middle and upper classes) toward providing equal conditions for all people,” they wrote. “This involves cutting back spending on the beautification and aesthetization of central Moscow. Instead the city should invest in less sexy but important services such as public healthcare, education, rental housing and job creation, primarily in Moscow’s outlying neighborhoods.”