Many Russians have expressed their anger over plans authored by Moscow’s Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to demolish hundreds of post-war residential apartment tower blocks. The affordable housing units are known as Khrushchevki or Khrushchyovka because they were mostly built during Nikita Khrushchev’s time as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union between 1953 and 1964.
The housing units provided modern lifestyles to Soviet citizens in a country whose infrastructure had been badly damaged by fascist aggression during the Great Patriotic War (Second World War).
While some saw the Khrushchyovka as temporary solutions to post-war housing problems, they remain a staple of the skyline in many Russian cities to this day. Outside of Russian, similar units were built from New York to London, Paris to Berlin, Prague to Warsaw.
Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has sought to demolish the buildings and replace them with more modern structures. Plans have been proposed to re-house the tenants, but many simply do not want to leave. They are happy where they are.
President Putin has recently affirmed that no one should be forced to leave against their will, but the Mayor’s proposals have generated many peaceful protests in Moscow.
There is a worry that corrupt developers will do to Moscow what they have done to many western cities. In cities like London and New York, greedy developers often tear down historically important buildings as well as mass residential units to build modern monstrosities that have no benefit to ordinary people or the wider community. Typically, these projects cost a great deal more and take much longer to complete than originally estimated and public officials often line their pockets years and sometimes decades before anything tangible reappears on city streets.
Those who favour new construction say that the old buildings are in need of repair and are public eyesores.
The biggest question for Moscow is, can Russia’s capital avoid the corruption that currently plagues major European and American cities?
What do you think? Should the Soviet buildings stay or should they go?