Local communal collapse can develop into a massive political protest, political analysts say.
In the capital of Bashkiria, on the morning of January 18, about a hundred people broke into the main government building of the republic due to a sharp increase in utility bills. They demanded the resignation of a number of officials from housing and communal services, who, according to the protesters, are guilty of setting extortionate prices for services.
In fresh receipts, bills for communal apartments for one-room apartments in Ufa began to reach up to 4 thousand rubles, for two- and three-room apartments - up to 8-10 thousand rubles and more. The lion's share is charged for heating and hot water.
At the same time, the average monthly accrued wages of employees of organizations in the Republic of Belarus, according to the Territorial Body of Rosstat in the Republic of Bashkortostan, amounted to 37.6 thousand rubles (in January-October 2020).
The average old-age pension in Bashkiria as of April 2020 was 15.3 thousand rubles.
Most of the participants in the spontaneous action in the House of the Republic on January 18 are pensioners, which is not surprising. Judging by the numbers in January bills, in order to pay for the communal apartment, the elderly will now have to give half of their pension, or even more (depending on the living space).
Young families are also not happy with the new tariffs - utility bills are approaching a monthly mortgage payment, residents are outraged.
At the same time, the debt of Ufa residents for housing and communal services, according to the city administration, increased by 5% in the coronavirus year and amounted to 2 billion 502 million rubles as of October 1, 2020 (with total charges for housing and communal services for 9 months of 2020 at 6 billion 938 million rubles).
One of the initiators of the action, the leader of the "Stop BashRTS" public movement, Albert Rakhmatullin, broadcasted the "storming" of the head's residence on air.
On the morning of January 18, the crowd gathered on the steps of the Republic House porch chanted: “Reduced tariffs! Reduction of tariffs!".
A few minutes later, angry people burst into the building and rushed towards the reception of the head of the region, demanding a meeting with the first person of the region: "Khabirov, come out!"
Aides from the governor's office tried to explain to the protesters that the head is busy: there is a weekly operational meeting, and for this reason he will not be able to go down to the conversation.
But people were not going to disperse, still demanding a face-to-face meeting.
The minister of housing and communal services of the region Boris Belyaev came out to the audience. He introduced himself, and at that moment someone from the crowd shouted: "This man is to blame for our high scores!"
Deputy Head of the Administration of the Head of Bashkortostan for Domestic Policy Ural Kilsenbayev tried to negotiate with the protesters:
"We have just had an operational meeting with the Head of the Republic, Radiy Faritovich, where he once again focused on the fact that the problems that you are raising now are the first and main problem we have here in the republic today. All measures are being taken that are necessary in order to build a normal relationship so that you can be heard and understood. Second, now we are ready to enter into a dialogue with you, we are ready to drag out any official, any head of Bash RTS, into a dialogue with you. But it must be a dialogue", - he said.
After that, the official invited the crowd to go with him to the meeting in the small hall of the Bashdramteater. Those interested could speak there at the microphone. The activists kept the minutes of the negotiations.
"We went to the State Tariffs Committee last year. By the way, Belyaev never received us. They went to Shafikov. We raised these issues, raised them, made some radical extremists out of us, did not listen to us, so they brought the situation to this point: the people simply came to Radiy Khabirov as the last resort, who can at least solve this problem with his political will. People [officials] are hiding a resource supplying organization, I have great suspicions. They work for them, not our people”, - said Albert Rakhmatullin, leader of the Stop BashRTS movement, and called for the dismissal of Bashkir Housing and Utilities Minister Boris Belyaev, Chairman of the State Committee for Housing and Construction Supervision Ildar Shafikov and Chairman of the State Committee for Tariffs Svetlana Burdyuk.
The speaker's proposal was met with thunderous applause from the audience.
The officials who spoke immediately after Rakhmatullin were remembered for their particularly odious statements.
Svetlana Burdyuk, Chairperson of the State Committee of Bashkiria on Tariffs, speaking to those who came, hinted that they were not educated, which is why they could not understand in any way that, in fact, tariffs were not raised:
"Tariffs for heat energy have not increased in our country, they are not revised every month. The very cost of a gigacalorie changes on July 1 every year. I will now tell you what is included in the tariff. Raise your hand, anyone related to economics education. Well, they probably know how the cost of any product is formed. 62% is gas in the heat tariff", - said Burdyuk.
People who were immediately waving their bills did not believe the official. They interrupted her speech with a chant: “Resign! Resign!" With a twisted smile, Svetlana Burdyuk was forced to leave the podium.
Irina Popova, Deputy Director (for Heat Sales), spoke on behalf of the resource-supplying organization Bash RTS. Like the previous speaker, she did not fail to mention that educated people have long figured out the payments made:
“I’m just making payments for heat energy and hot water. I can say with full confidence that for seven years and at the moment, we have been warm with you. Our children, our families are warm. The key thing I want to say is that, after all, we see that there are no such large accidents that exist in Russia. The second point - we got rid of the question why bills come with heating bills in summer, when there are no such bills in other regions. The republic heard and changed the payment method. We switched to actual payment, when most of the people, educated and understanding in charging, managed to figure it out and removed this question, because we give an answer directly to the head of the house, to anyone who applies who can and understand the heating system", - she said.
At the end of her speech, Mrs. Popova nevertheless admitted that the bills that come for heat are "really heavy" and suggested... to pay them IN INSTALLMENT!
Immediately after the meeting, Albert Rakhmatullin was taken away in a police paddy wagon to "give explanations." The next morning, on Tuesday, the court found him guilty of violating the rules for holding a public action (part 8 of article 20.2 of the Administrative Offenses Code of the Russian Federation) and ordered an administrative arrest.
“10 days of arrest! Nothing wrong! I'll sit and fight again! Our cause is just, the enemy will be defeated! No communal robbery!", - he managed to write before leaving for the camera on his Facebook page.
Representatives of the systemic opposition quickly reacted to the "storm" of the Bashkir Government House.
The leader of A Just Russia, Sergey Mironov, noted that the system for regulating housing and communal services tariffs in Russia had yet another failure. According to him, in the first weeks of the new year, reports are received from different regions of the country about a jump in prices for thermal energy. In Bashkiria, the amount of payment for heat increased by about 40%. Approximately the same growth was recorded in the Altai Territory, residents of Tatarstan complain about prohibitively high tariffs for heat energy.
“People simply do not know where to get money from to pay for communal services. Today, in most regions, the maximum allowable share of family expenses for housing and communal services is 22% - if a family spends more on communal services, it is entitled to a subsidy. In 2018, our faction submitted to the Duma a bill that reduces this figure to 15%. The initiative has not been considered until now. We asked for an extension of the moratorium on fines and penalties on debts for communal apartments, but even here they did not listen to us. By the way, the debt of the population for housing and communal services is more than a trillion, but how much is this penalty !? We have proposed to introduce a moratorium on the growth of tariffs for natural monopolies by the end of the year. It is here that the root of evil is: from the cost of fuel oil, gas, electricity, the rise in price spins along the chain and rests on households. But the Cabinet gave a negative conclusion. You see, monopoly enterprises may not receive the planned revenue then. You can’t offend them, but to tear three skins from people - that’s please! ”Mironov stressed.
The leader of the LDPR faction in the State Assembly of Bashkiria, Vyacheslav Ryabov, sent a deputy inquiry to the head of Radiy Khabirov and the Prime Minister of the Government Andrey Nazarov on the situation with the sharply increased payment for heating.
In the analysis, compiled on the basis of conversations with dozens of residents of apartment buildings and consultations with specialists in the field of housing and communal services, the parliamentarian points out a number of shortcomings in the work of regional officials, which led to a jump in tariffs.
“At present, the State Committee of the Republic of Bashkortostan on Tariffs is using an incomprehensible calculation method to establish standards for heat consumption per 1 sq. M. m of living space (house). The design documentation of houses or house passports, which have the prerogative when establishing the hourly heat load, are not taken into account. These documents are in the management companies, but they do not provide them to the owners of the premises in order to hide the real consumption of heating units and the facts of establishing an individual standard for heat consumption for each house or a typical series of houses of the same size and number of storeys”, - Vyacheslav Ryabov writes in his request.
According to local sources, the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bashkortostan, after the protest action, began checking the validity of the increase in tariffs for heat supply and hot water supply.
"A sharp increase in tariffs happened back in December 2020, now the first payments are coming. Khabirov, according to his statements, instructed the Minister of Housing and Communal Services Belyaev and supervisory organizations to carry out information work. After yesterday's "assault", according to my information, Belyaev and the Housing Inspection were given the last warning. But information work, no matter whether it is high-quality or low-quality, does not solve anything here. The problem is social and economic. I myself felt the growth of utility bills - they doubled. And when, with a minimum pension of 8-10 thousand rubles, and we have a lot of such citizens, they receive payments for exactly the same amount, it turns out that people are left with a net zero for life - naturally this is annoying", - the political scientist, senior Researcher at the Institute of Ethnological Research, Ufa Federal Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences Ildar Gabdrafikov.
"In this confrontation, everything is pretty transparent. The riot of the "deep people" in action. In contrast to Navalny's return and new investigation, this story has so far remained largely unnoticed. It is, apparently, considered insignificant, but in vain. The potential for consequences in the form of mass demonstrations and protests is enormous here. Investigations with palaces are exactly what the residents of the regions will swallow, but their own shirt, their bills, for which people give their hard-earned money, are always closer to the body. Who is working with this agenda now? Who represents these very specific residents of Bashkiria who broke into the Government House?", - comments media consultant, expert on regional policy Grigory Telnov.
"It seems that at the time when the authorities were dealing with the intelligentsia, the “deep people” crept up behind them. With the club of this very popular anger in hand. All this is a consequence of the defeat at Kushtau. People realized that the government can be forced to cancel a decision once made and were inspired. After that, protests in the republic began to multiply - Abzelilovsky district, Baymaksky district, Neftekamsk, now Ufa. Now it will be so", - political analyst Abbas Gallyamov comments to Novye Izvestia.
"The situation in Bashkiria is really difficult. It is not excluded that after Kushtau and today's "assault" of the administration, there will be talk about the introduction of external / manual control from the federal center in Bashkiria, and a deputy commissar from Moscow will be sent to Radiy Khabirov to solve problems. In addition, his bad relations with almost the entire local republican elite work against Khabirov, so the rally could well have been a provocation. Although the increase in tariffs is evident, of course. And it's not a fact that this wave will not spread to other regions', - says the head of the Center for the Development of Regional Policy Ilya Grashchenkov.