The Mayor of Moscow spoke about the relocation programme, efforts to modernise the healthcare system and new technologies for the city and its residents.

Five-story buildings will give way to improved residential areas, and the number of trees and shrubs will not decrease, Sergei Sobyanin told Rossiya 24 TV channel.

“The number of trees and shrubs will not decrease after new housing is completed but will, most likely, go up because the area under construction will not exceed the current area. You see, high risers instead of sprawling buildings will be built,” he noted.

The city will use better improvement standards, set up new public gardens and public parks, as well as playgrounds for children.

High-quality, modern and convenient residential buildings will be equipped with lifts, so that people living on the upper floors will be able to quickly reach their flats and descend to the ground floor. The lifts will be located near the entrances of the buildings, to make it easier for people with disabilities and parents with little children in prams. The flats will also be larger, featuring spacious corridors, bathrooms and kitchens.

People will not be required to pay any extra for the new flats. “We provide high-quality housing free of charge,” Mr Sobyanin said. “The city will build this housing all by itself and provide people with new flats that will, as a rule, cost 20-30 percent more than their old ones, in terms of their market value,” he added.

At the same time, it will be impossible to implement this huge programme with budgetary funding alone. The city will launch the programme and will construct the first buildings where residents from nearby old five-story buildings will relocate. Later, the city will retain some flats in newly-built residential buildings; these flats will be later sold to all prospective homeowners for the going rate, and this will make it possible to compensate for part of our expenses, Mr Sobyanin noted.

The new residential areas will feature single-level, underground and elevated parking space, numerous roads and streets, new schools, kindergartens and outpatient clinics. “Most likely the city will finance construction of social and cultural facilities, additional roads and streets, as well as reconstruction and improvement projects, but we are already addressing this task,” Mr Sobyanin said.

The draft relocation programme includes about 4,500 buildings whose residents will have the final say. They should okay or reject the relocation programme until 15 June by voting on the Active Citizen website, at My Documents integrated government services centres or at general meetings of homeowners. “While compiling this programme, we are, first of all, guided by the technical state of buildings; and, secondly, by the wishes of the residents themselves. If they don’t want their house to be demolished, and if they don’t want to relocate to a new building, then, of course, we will not do this. In the long run, this is their decision, and we are acting that way because they have asked us, and not because we want to do this,” Mr Sobyanin added.

City residents will receive new flats in the same districts where their old buildings were located. “We will use stage-by-stage relocation for settling most people not far away from their current buildings. This is very important. Anyone wishing to move to another district can go there, in case we can provide housing there. This is especially true of border-line districts. Sometimes it is easier to move to a building located virtually 50 metres away, but in another district,” Mr Sobyanin explained.

The list of housing for the relocation programme is to be finalised after the approval of the relevant federal law and after voting returns are summed up.

During the interview, Mr Sobyanin also spoke about the modernisation of the city’s healthcare system. Local hospitals now boast the same amount of medical equipment as those in the industrial world’s capitals.

“We can say that the city’s healthcare system now has world-class equipment. Moscow’s clinics now use just as many magnetic-resonance imaging and computed tomography scan systems as those in London, Paris and Madrid and are second only to Berlin,” Mr Sobyanin noted.

The number of specialised surgical operations has increased by 30 percent over the past five years, and the volume of high-tech medical treatment has soared four-fold, he added. In the past six years, local hospitals have received over 500 pieces of modern equipment. In 2016, the number of city hospitals involved in the high-tech medical treatment programme increased three fold, and the list of high-tech medical operations expanded from 130 to 1,500. Robotic surgeons and Leksell Gamma Knife systems started treating hospital patients for the first time.

The city will continue to develop technologies in other areas too. For example, the Russian capital now boasts one of the largest Wi-Fi networks. “We have introduced the first metro Wi-Fi network in history, and we will continue to expand the city’s Wi-Fi network. It appears that we now have the largest centralised Wi-Fi network in the world,” Mr Sobyanin said.

New technologies are gradually penetrating all areas of people’s life, including education and healthcare, he said. “This concerns our schools, as well. During the first stage, we introduced such systems as electronic checkpoints, those for monitoring students’ academic records and online daybooks. Today, we are focusing on electronic textbooks, teaching aids and lesson plans, so that each pupil doesn’t have to lug ten kilogrammes of “pulp fiction” inside his or her school satchels but instead will be able to use electronic devices and obtain most material they require online. The same concerns the healthcare system: Today, patients can get medical appointments online,” Mr Sobyanin explained.

It is impossible to imagine the life of city residents and city management without cutting-edge technology. “City authorities can no longer do without IT solutions. They poll city residents using the Active Citizen portal, discuss complicated issues through crowdsourcing and communicate with Muscovites by email, and many more,” Mr  Sobyanin said.

Instagram, Twitter and V Kontakte social-network accounts provide the Mayor with adequate feedback. “Their users post more than enough critical remarks,” he noted adding that modern technologies made it possible to respond to such criticism by setting various tasks and monitoring their implementation online.