A mass-scale meeting of protest took place at Platanovaya Alley in Gelendzhik despite prohibition of the authorities. About 300 people participated in the action in spite of heavy rain. The meeting was devoted to two problems: growth of natural monopolies’ tariffs and arbitrary rule of the local government in respect of local human rights activists. The leader of the YABLOKO party Sergei Mitrokhin who was in Krasnodar Area on a two-day visit also participated in the meeting.
Before the meeting the police tried to prove that the action was unlawful, but failed. On the threashold the organiser of the meeting and member of the YABLOKO party Sergei Buldakov was summoned to Gelendzhik Administration. He was told that the application for the meeting had been allegedly made with violation of the law, therefore an allowance for the meeting could not be given. Informally officials told Buldakov that the true motive of the refusal was the political claims of the organizers of the meeting and told that they intended “to break the action anyway”.
After the meeting it was announced that administrative prosecution was raised against Buldakov due to organizing and conducting of an action without obtaining an allowance, and police was going to arrest Buldakov on his return home. At the meeting Sergei Buldakov told that tariffs on communal services in Gelendzhik had been growing faster than in Krasnodar and other cities of the region. “We have gas tariffs 30% higher than even in the capital of the region,” said Buldakov.
The leader of the YABLOKO party Sergei Mitrokhin told about the corporative festivity Fakel (Torch) held by Gazprom in Gelendzhik from May 12 through May 18. “It was especially cynical of Gazprom to hold a pompous show in the city where the activities of the corporation have affected the life of the citizens so much,” said Mitrokhin.
He also called the citizens of this resort place to sign a petition to the President of Russia demanding him to undertake immediate measures for reduction of natural monopolies’ tariffs.
The participants of the meeting also expressed their protest in view of the recent arrest of local human rights activist Vladimir Ivanov. Founder of information bulleting “You have the Right” and head of the Gelendzhik Human Rights Centre Vladimir Ivanov was arrested for his attempt to make panorama photographs of the building of the Gelendzhik Court and its Chair Vladimir Krasnopeyev entering the building. “Vladimir Ivanov was a bone in the throat of not only municipal but also regional governments,” said Ivanov’s colleague Garik Avanesyan. According to Avanesyan, Ivanov opposed construction of dachas of Financial Minister Alexei Kudrin, ex-Economic Minister and Chair of Sberbank German Gref and Minister of Extraordinary Situations Sergei Shoigu on the territory of municipal beaches. He also opposed seizure of 260 hectares under construction of another residence of Vladimir Putin.
Avanesyan also told that Ivanov managed to prove in court that construction of cottages in Tonkii Mis in Gelendzhik was unlawful. The Federal Court of Arbitration of the Krasnodar Area ruled out to pull down over 300 cottages. In addition Ivanov initiated and organised dozens of meetings in Gelendzhik and Krasnodar against arbitrary rule of the governments and also fought against fraud at elections.
Mitrokhin told that during his meeting with Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin he handed Lukin a petition from Gelendzhik citizens in support of Ivanov. The ombudsman promised to interfere and take the situation under his control.
Some other topics such as construction of an airport making life of people living by the construction site unbearable were also raised at the meeting. Following Mitrokhin’s previous visit to Gelendzhik in 2005 the local government agreed to move some of the city dwellers living by the construction site to other areas, however residents of several apartment blocks have been still living by the construction site.
In addition the meeting participants also spoke about of the failure of the local government to provide steady water supply in Gelendzhik and their making the city dwellers pay for implementation of the project.
The topic of machinations with municipal plots of land transferred without any control under commercial housing or other commercial objects was also raised. The speakers noted that members of the United Russia faction of the Russian parliament were engaged in this. The citizens also stated that uncontrolled growth of tariffs on housing and communal services was attributed to the fact that virtually all the deputies were members of the ruling party and approved the current raise of tariffs proceeding from their own commercial interests.
The meeting closed with establishing the Public Control Committee.
Photographs from the meeting:
Sergei Buldakov, Sergei Mitrokhin and the police
Sergei Buldakov at the meeting
Collection of signatures under a petition to the President
Sergei Mitorkhin at the meeting
YABLOKO’s leader will be in Krasnodar Area on a formal visit. Press Release. May 22, 2009.
YABLOKO gathered 400 signatures against growth of tariffs by the Economic Ministry building. Press Release. May 20, 2009.
YABLOKO’s leader meets with Russia’s Ombudsman. Press Release. May 14, 2009.
Will Monopolies’ Tariffs Be Transparent? Press Release. May 12, 2009.
Housing and Utilities Reform