Posted 13 декабря 2022, 14:10

Published 13 декабря 2022, 14:10

Modified 24 декабря 2022, 22:38

Updated 24 декабря 2022, 22:38

Russia's most famous human ant-hill Murino demanded independence

13 декабря 2022, 14:10
Фото: Администрация МО «Муринское городское поселение»/vk.com
Until recently, Murino, a suburb of St. Petersburg, was the largest village in Russia. Now it is a city of 100,000 and probably the most criticized settlement by urbanists.

The deputies proposed to make it an independent municipality. Novye Izvestia describes how residents, authorities and experts look at this initiative.

Alexander Dybin

About the city of Murino, which is separated from St. Petersburg only by the ring road, a lot of reports have been written and filmed. This place is a concentration of urban horror stories: human ant-hills, traffic jams, no sidewalks, parking yards, the dominance of stalls and alcohol stores, as well as the lack of cultural leisure and medicine. In Murino, there are great difficulties with transport: I got into the car and was already in a traffic jam. I got out of the subway car and stood at the end of the line for the minibus. Nevertheless, in 10 years, Murino has turned from a small suburban village into a city with a population of 100,000 people. Both residents of St. Petersburg and residents of other regions of the country come here for relatively cheap apartments, for whom moving to Murino is equal to moving to the Northern capital.

In December 2022, the deputies of Murino began to discuss the issue of raising the status of the municipality from an urban settlement to an urban district. Now administratively Murino is part of the Vsevolzhsky district of the Leningrad region, and it is proposed to make the city a separate district, which will be equal in relation to the districts. Why is this needed? In a nutshell: for money and power. Now the urban settlement has a small circle of powers, primarily responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of the territory and roads, and can also engage in cultural leisure of the townspeople: hold holidays and similar events. The money for this comes from the district budget. You can apply for state programs, for example, for the construction or repair of roads, but these are options, and everything needs to be coordinated with the district authorities. In the case of the urban district, Murino will receive the full range of powers of a second-level municipality. And there is a spread from sports to mobilization work. Where to get money for this? For this, the head will hurt already at the regional center, since all the same, the budgets of municipalities are mostly subsidized from the regional center.

As deputy Alexander Barkevich, the author of the initiative, told Novye Izvestia, initially they wanted to discuss the issue of separating from his older brother within the council of deputies, only then to make the issue official. But after the first discussion, the topic went public.

“A couple of years ago, Murino turned from a rural settlement into an urban one,” the deputy says, “and this gave a certain impetus to development, a police department appeared, and a hospital began to be built. We want to develop further. There is such an approach that a city with a million population needs a metro. And our city has grown to 100 thousand people, we need social and public facilities: the court, the prosecutor's office, the Federal Migration Service, the tax office. In an urban district, they will appear faster, but in an urban settlement, maybe they will never appear”.

Фото: Администрация МО «Муринское городское поселение»/vk.com

According to the deputy, the current state of affairs is not convenient for either residents or officials from the local administration. Getting to the regional center of Vsevolzhsk, which is smaller than Murino in terms of population, is difficult both by car and by public transport. In the first case, you need to wind around interchanges, in the second, there is simply no direct communication.

“We are talking about the convenience of residents”, - says Alexander Barkevich, - “we expected that we would receive a new status as part of the LSG reform, which was announced last year, but now it is in an incomprehensible state, and we decided to start this process ourselves. I think that independence will increase the manageability of the territory and make the life of citizens easier. We have a young city, it is even psychologically strange to obey Vsevolzhsk. Residents, in my opinion, reacted positively. There is a heated discussion within the council. Now we are preparing documents to take the initiative to the regional level”.

Yekaterina Chirikova, an activist from Murino and administrator of the popular For Social Devyatkino group, agrees that the city has already grown to independence.

“We have long outgrown the status of the regional outskirts, from which you have to go to the “district center” for any nonsense”, - she says, - “and even there is no normal transport accessibility: there are few buses strictly on schedule, or with a transfer to two electric trains. Not only residents have to go there, but also employees of the Murinsk administration, which also only steals working time. An example - the city itself could earn on fines, but the administrative commission in Vsevolozhsk. There is also a court, tax, etc. All power should be here - in Murino. We do not need regional supervision and control – we have grown”.

Political factor

Murino on the political map of the Leningrad region is a protest territory. Three years ago, United Russia lost the municipal elections with a bang. Most of the winning candidates were nominated by the Yabloko party, which immediately set the tone for relations between the council of deputies of Murino and the district authorities. Later, however, the deputies disowned Yabloko and are now positioning themselves as independent deputies. But the sediment remained.

In an interview with a Novye Izvestiya correspondent, the head of the Vsevolzhsky district, Andrey Nizovsky, expressed doubt that the deputies from Murino would succeed.

“This issue does not depend on the district, if the council makes a decision and it is approved by the Parliamentary Assembly, then they will start this process, we cannot influence it", - said Nizovsky, “but I don’t see any prospects, this is a deeply subsidized territory, since there no businesses. We are constantly helping them with money anyway: for roads for cleaning, how will they earn money themselves? As for the council of deputies, there is no relationship with them, and there is no respect. First of all, because the head is on the run”.

This passage concerned the head of the municipality Dmitry Kuzmin, who a few weeks ago, representatives of the military registration and enlistment office tried to hand over the summons as part of a partial mobilization during a meeting of the council. The process was filmed, the deputy asked to come after the meeting. But then they couldn't find him. The media reported that he had disappeared, but Kuzmin himself, in a chat with residents of Murino, said that he had not left anywhere and continued to work. But be that as it may, relations between the Murinsk deputies and district officials deteriorated long before this episode.

He does not see prospects for independence and a resident of the city, the founder of the information project "Museums of Murino" Pavel Sinyavin. According to him, the current composition of deputies has not yet fulfilled their pre-election promises to take on such a project as a "city district".

“Leaving aside politics and party affairs,” he says, “we need to look at what promises they made when they went to the polls and what they fulfilled in three years. For example, they promised to organize a council of residents in each house, to make improvements in tariffs. But this is nothing. I regard them as inconsistent guys. Everything is known by its fruits, and if there are none, then why should I trust them? They say that there will be a hospital, a pension fund, a tax office, a court, and so on. Where are we going to get the money for this? This process is not fast, it is a game for a long time, and what they showed during the three years of their reign does not convince me. For example, the story of initiative budgeting, where it was necessary to interact with the Leningrad region. Residents came out with the initiative to implement this in our country, but the council of deputies blocked this several times. We had to independently go to the governor and ask. They promised to make a design code. But they went to the courts, as a result, the company squeezed two million rubles from the administration. And we got beautiful pictures that were attached to the rules of improvement. And now the Leningrad region is developing its own design code. Just lost two million. Separation from the region. This is not thought out 250 steps ahead and is simply unrealizable”.

Political consultant Yaroslav Ignatovsky agrees that the political motivation in this story prevails over the everyday one.

“There is a dilemma: deputies who are perceived by the authorities as opposition come forward with the initiative. We know about the long-standing confrontation between the Murino council and the district administration, the expert says. - But the logic here still eats. First of all, economic. More than 100 thousand people live in Murino, but it is difficult to call it a full-fledged part of the Vsevolzhsky district. Financing. from which comes from the district budget for the 100,000th Murino - this is 650 million. The amount is not great. Given the population density, the city can be considered Khimki or Balashikha of the Leningrad Region. But I doubt that the council will be able to lobby for such a decision. Another question is if the community of residents will speak out and their voice will be significant: not a few people, but thousands of people. If a plan is presented, how will Murino develop. as an urban area. Then their voice can be heard".

In Search of Identity

A full-fledged city is not only houses and roads. First of all, these are people who feel like city dwellers. Does Murino have this self-awareness, or do people consider themselves residents of the St. Petersburg "sleeping room"?

Муринцы ищут компанию для занятий спортом в соцсетях.
Фото: Активный отдых в Мурино/vk.com

Despite all the criticism, the Murin community is still being formed. For example, a local resident Zulfat Valiullin started by looking for people who would like to join street workouts, and now in his VK group you can find company and leisure for any interest: from table tennis and board games to joint jogging and going to the bathhouse.

Pavel Sinyavin, an opponent of independence, works for the formation of the Murinsky identity, who conducts lectures and excursions on the history of the city, which turns out to be older than St. Petersburg. But the activist admits that despite the rich history, the city symbols in Murino are bad.

Главный арт-объект Мурино - памятник Менделееву. Но сам химик здесь никогда не бывал.
Фото: Администрация МО «Муринское городское поселение»/vk.com

“Yes, we have a problem that a large number of people gravitate towards St. Petersburg, but there are also those who are interested in the place where they live”, - says Pavel Sinyavin, - “I am trying to popularize the history of the city. For example, there was the first golf course in Russia, the peasants in Murino received liberation from serfdom 20 years earlier thanks to the Vorontsovs. There are many such historical facts on which one could build an attitude towards the city. But there are also oddities. One of the symbols of Murino is the monument to Mendeleev on Mendeleev Boulevard. People go to the subway past him every day. And Dmitry Ivanovich has nothing to do with the history of the city and has never been here. Why did he become a symbol? Unclear".

I agree that the city community has not yet been fully formed and the initiator of the separation, deputy Alexander Barkevich.

“Residents of Murino are a heterogeneous community, a significant part of them rent housing, they perceive this place as part of St. Petersburg, as a sleeping area. And it is important for them that the streets are cleaned, there is heating and the subway works, - he says, - but there are also residents who consider Murino as their home. These are young people who have moved from St. Petersburg or other regions. And they insist that the city must meet modern requirements for improvement and management. This led to the result in the elections: we have a young population that is looking for something new”.

The problem is also created by the historical division of Murino into the western and eastern parts. In the east, there are the remains of a village, old buildings and the private sector. West - exclusively new buildings. They are separated by the railway and there is no connection, either physical or mental, between the inhabitants of one municipality.

“In western Murino, most of the resident population, of course, feels like St. Petersburg residents,” says activist Yelena Chirikova, “they initially went “to St. Petersburg”, just a little beyond the Ring Road. But for me, Murino is certainly not Peter, it is another planet with its own atmosphere. Do others have self-awareness? Those who live in the old part - Defense, Bear Camp, the entire private sector - they definitely have it. But the city is advancing and they are outnumbered. In western Murino, only a handful of active citizens who scribble comments in groups have self-consciousness. For the majority, everything is up to scratch - they either rent apartments here, or live in anticipation of moving to a more comfortable place.

But even the inhabitants of western Murino can mobilize in the face of an external threat. So it was last summer, when residents opposed the construction of a food mall on Mendeleev Boulevard. People literally carried a construction trailer from the site on their hands, and after that they did not dare to build there anymore.

Who will pay for independence?

The main question asked by all the residents of Murino and experts we interviewed is: who will pay for the independence of the municipality? There are no large enterprises in Murino that could provide taxes and jobs.

Economist Dmitry Dovzhenko notes that the municipality, in principle, does not have many opportunities to earn money, and Murino has even fewer of these options.

“If there is a large land user on the territory, who will pay the land tax and income tax, then it makes sense to separate and demand independence,” the expert says, “if not, then what remains for such a city? Income tax from small companies, land tax from households, simplified tax, patents, personal income tax. Everything has to be counted and calculated. Will the regional budget share taxes or help in the form of transfers? It makes sense to separate if there is land to dispose of. If these factors are absent, then the prospects are very doubtful. If the tax base is not clear, then feeding another municipality is too expensive. In general, in such stories there is always an underlying desire for a small education to receive some benefits from a large one. In this case, from St. Petersburg. There is an agglomeration mechanism, when a common transport system is created, tax policy, zoning, and the like are synchronized. But I have not seen successful examples of creating an agglomeration, because in the end it all comes down to sharing money. Who will get and how much. Therefore, all agglomeration processes boil down to the fact that suburban residents “sit down” on urban infrastructure: transport, attach themselves to city schools, hospitals, etc”.

Political psychologist Alexander Kofisakhor also points out that there are no enterprises in Murino that the municipality could rely on.

“Local deputies want more independence and less dependence on the authorities, to feel like masters of the situation,” he says, “it is difficult to talk about the prospects, whether there are production facilities that could bring money to the budget. Otherwise it will be empty. So far, this looks like nothing more than the ambition of the local authorities and the regional leadership, I think, will find a way to influence them. Otherwise, they will constantly demand money, and blackmail the area. If Murino gave billions to the district budget, then it would be possible to demand independence, but so far this is not there. And the city has nothing to flourish from”.

An activist from Murino, Elena Chirikova, believes that neighboring settlements, where there are large enterprises, can be drawn into the urban orbit. Another question is why do settlements need this?

“I support the separation with the inclusion of the village of Bugry and the village of Novoe Devyatkino in Murino, it would be economically easier, there are few sources of income in Murino, and Novoe Devyatkino, for example, is Severnaya TETs and Turboatomgaz in a common tax piggy bank,” he says activist. - A few years ago, we all planned to unite. But, apparently, not all chapters were ready. Although I also support without it, the beginning is half the battle. Where to get money for self-sufficiency? And where they used to take to the district, they will take it there: gradually raising property taxes in the city to the level of St. Petersburg. Replenishing the budget due to fines. We will get rich on some fines for breaking the silence. I'm not a deputy, and I didn't count the budget, but considering that now it does not reach 700 million, we can safely multiply it by 6. We need such an amount for development. For example, the city of Kirovsk in the Murmansk region, where the population is about 30,000 people, and the budget is almost 3 billion. I know a resident of Murino who moved from there and is surprised: a small town, and everything is there: schools, a hospital, a tax office, but in Murino there is such a population and nothing.

Deputy Alexander Barkevich agrees that the issue of money is key and needs to be studied.

“We have just begun to work on this issue both in terms of money and powers,” he says. - This year, the cadastral value of a significant part of the houses has been re-evaluated, and the tax should increase significantly. We cannot quickly raise the tax, but if we were to pay now based on the real value of the cadastre, the budget would receive an additional 400 million. The tax base will still change. And it's too early to say what will happen in 2-3 years. In any case, our city and district receive most of the money in the form of subsidies. The question is how much we will receive for our needs. Yes, we have a small area and no enterprises, but this is a plus. We do not have long roads that need to be maintained, there are no remote villages that need to be provided. But there is also a free territory, which will still be built up and provide the budget with money”.

Varlamov was wrong?

“Everything in Murino is one continuous problem”, - says activist Chirikova, “globally you can’t change anything here. This primarily applies to western Murino, where every shred is built up. But it can be made a little more comfortable for life: it is normal to plant trees, clean up. Sidewalks and roads cannot be expanded here - everything is built up. The metro is overloaded during rush hours, so the once promised tram ring and transport hub would be very useful, normal bicycle access to St. Petersburg instead of the current “folk trail”. As for the search for land and premises for all those institutions that are not in the city. There was no land for the police department either. And nothing, they found and bought the site when they got tired of listening to the indignation of the residents about the impossibility of waiting for the outfit. There is no cinema or large shopping centers here. To have fun, to shop, to restaurants, etc. people go to St. Petersburg, standing in the same traffic jams.

The country learned about the suffering of the inhabitants of Murino from the reviews of the urbanist blogger Ilya Varlamov. It is customary to call the city a "ghetto" and prophesy a gloomy fate for the "human ant-hills" - decline and demolition. It is interesting that in a conversation with a Novye Izvestia correspondent, both deputy Barkevich and the head of the Nizovsky district, whose political views are diametrically opposed, disagree with the urbanists.

“Have you been to Murino yourself? This is a stereotype that there is a ghetto. This is a great city, and everything you need is there. The only thing is the metro, during rush hour there is not enough bandwidth. And everything else is excellent. The hospital is under construction. Given the cost of housing, this is a great place. There is also nature, the same lakes along the Toksovskoye highway. People from St. Petersburg sell rooms in communal apartments, take out mortgages and move there. Yes, they want it to be all at once. But this does not happen”, - the head of the district said.

Alexander Barkevich believes that Murino has not met Varlamov's estimates for a long time.

Муринские контрасты.
Фото: За Социальное Девяткино/vk.com

“He was with us a few years ago. But the city is still under construction, during construction there are always problems of a domestic nature: somewhere the street is unfinished, somewhere the equipment is noisy, somewhere the developer went bankrupt. There will be such problems in the new city. We don’t even have adult trees, they have only been planted. But this has its advantages, we can involve residents in this process. Create a state of the art environment. The situation is changing and the city will only get better in the future,” the deputy says.

Associate Professor of the Department of State and Municipal Administration of the RANEPA St. Petersburg, Candidate of Political Sciences Yekaterina Kuznetsova believes that the mentality of the residents is also working against Murino. They don't consider this area home.

“Many residents do not consider Murino as the end point, they came here not to live, but to live, to save up for more comfortable housing”, - the expert says, “while for many, even such houses in such an environment are an increase in the quality of life. Especially for those who come from the regions. This motivates them to demand even more communal benefits, but Murino cannot provide them. It is always difficult to correct such mistakes that were made during the development of Murino. This requires interaction between St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. At the philistine level, the inhabitants of Murino would generally like to become part of St. Petersburg. But why is this city? They have nothing to interest Petersburg. Therefore, I think that the deputies' proposal for independence is more of a declarative and political nature than a concrete one. Raising this issue, they seem to be saying that, in their opinion, the Vsevolozhsk district and the Leningrad region are not fulfilling their obligations. At the same time, who exactly sets the quality standard for the provision of services, and why do they think that by changing ownership, they themselves will be able to ensure the implementation of these standards? In terms of population, Murino has probably already grown to a branch. But if we talk about the revenue side of the budget and infrastructure, it is unlikely. What will they do if suddenly this decision is approved? Where will the funds come from for everything that the Vsevolzhsky district lacks? But still, this is a signal and the authorities need to go to a meeting with both St. Petersburg and Lenobalsti to jointly solve the problems of Murino, primarily transport. And the Leningrad region needs to study this experience so as not to create new Murinos where they plan to build housing in the coming years”.

Despite all the controversy of the topic, Alexander Barkevich, the initiator of the Murino branch, insists that sooner or later all parties will come to the conclusion that the city needs independence.

“It is simply inevitable”, - he says, “by 2030, we are planning to have 250-300 thousand inhabitants. Such an entity will no longer be able to live within the district. We need to think about the future, not talk about what is now. I think that the regional authorities also understand this. And the negative is connected with the fact that they become personal. They treat this not as a proposal that needs to be considered, but as a proposal of specific people. We want to discuss this objectively without getting personal. I read comments that we are against Russia and in that spirit, but this is not true, I am a patriot and have nothing to do with liberals. We were elected as residents of Murino, we live here and take care of the residents”.