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Interview: Georgiy Poltavchenko speaks to the “Saint-Petersburg” TV channel on what 2013 was like for the city

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How does the city’s head see the year 2013 for the city? In an interview to the “Saint-Petersburg” channel, Georgiy Poltavchenko revealed how difficult it is to work as a governor of a 5-million-city.

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Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Hello Georgiy Sergeevich! Thank you for this interview. We have come to you to find an answer to a question – what was 2013 like for St. Petersburg and how the city will be developing in 2014”. 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “First of all, I can say that 2013 has been good for the city. And I will try to assure you of that during our conversation” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “First off – what’s with the stadium?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “What I saw today gave me a moderate, but serious optimism that we would be able to finish its construction according to the schedule we had set. We can see a unique crane there – it’s a 750-tonn crane. We will use it to install pylons, which will be holding the roof. Around 1000-1200 men work there every day. And every day – at 1700 – an official from our construction committee comes here to check what has been done during the day. There’s always room for perfection. I think that now that we have this system in place, we have every chance to complete it on time” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Could you please remind the approximate completion date?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “By 2016 we have to finish its construction, in 2017 we will have to hold a Confederations Cup there. It will be a unique construction in terms of technical capabilities. Its architecture allows us to close its ceiling during winter and we can hold mass sports events all year round. The pitch will be removable so that it could stay unharmed. We will hold all sort of sports events there. It will be a great venue to hold sports events and any other events too“ 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Many have been asking – was using city’s budget money to build the stadium really worth it?”  

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “That decision was made before me. And I think it was a right decision. The city needs such a big stadium. Our city is looking to be a global one, that’s why such projects are absolutely necessary. Considerable money has already been invested, that’s why suspending it, as many have been suggesting, and asking the Federal Government for more money is unacceptable. This stadium is not only important for the city – we’re talking about the prestige of the country too. There’s no turning back now and we will not allow any stops or suspensions either”  

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “So that means the city is now investing into its future through this stadium?”  

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “This IS a serious investment into our future and creation of comfortable environment. I would also like to draw your attention to this building – the Arena – universal sports hall for all types of sport, including basketball, volleyball, handball, futsal. It is a unique hall” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “It would have been good to turn the Krestovskiy Island into a sports cluster”  

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I think the time has come to stop building residential houses at the Krestovskiy. I think its already overcrowded. It’s a historical recreation area – for everyone with no exceptions, not only for those who live here”

 Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “You’ve just made a very important statement here, Georgiy Sergeevich. Im sure many residents of St. Petersburg will support you on that»

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Georgiy Sergeevich, will we use the strobe beacon?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “You should have been aware that I never use a strobe beacon. And just like traffic police says – im going with the flow. We’ll not suspend traffic, nor that we would use the flashing lights. We’ll go along with everyone else, in a flow” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Today is Saturday - supposedly a day-off. How is your work organized? What’s it like – working as a governor?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I arrive at work at around 9 am. I get off work at random hours – depending on how the work goes. Usually its around midnight. That’s a drawback of my beloved profession. Because I want to do as much as I can for the city and its residents”  

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “And what’s the most difficult aspect of your work? Criticism from journalists or certain political situations which arise?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I don’t get offended by criticism – especially if its constructive – I take it. I read critical articles filled with sense. If I see things which require my reaction – I immediately react. Statements of political opponents do not put me off my work. Sometimes they also have suggestions which I take into consideration. The most difficult – to my mind, it takes a lot of time from decision making to fulfillment. Im urging my colleagues all the time to be quicker when it comes to fulfilling decisions”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “I cannot help touching upon an issue which exploded our media space – that publication in the “Vedomosti” newspaper about your possible resignation. What was that all about?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “Businesses which like to operate outside of law have started feeling far less comfortable in our city – and on our country as a whole. That’s why when threats are appearing on the pages of a business-newspaper – those are the dreams of those businesses, which care little about the city’s interests. Our task is to make businesses work for the city and for the country. In 2013, FDIs into our city increased by 150%. A foreign client would not let his money go to waste, so this statistic suggests that they have trust in our city’s business climate”  

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “But still – what about that publication in the Vedomosti?”  

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “If I decide to resign, your channel will be the first to know. But I haven’t even thought about it yet, I find the governor’s work very interesting” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: «As far as I know, there are official numbers from analytical agencies, which suggest a very high investment attractiveness rating with St. Petersburg. What draws western investors to our city? Is it because St. Petersburg is a port city, Governor?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I don’t think the latter attracts them. It is also an answer to a question why the governor does little PR-work for himself”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Well, we haven’t seen the governor at a publicity hangout” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “I feel more comfortable here – at the stadium construction site in a constructor’s jacket – because here one can see a result. Why do investors trust us? A well-known rating agency, that St. Petersburg’s investment rating is the highest of all Russia’s regions – 3b. A stable one. They also pointed out, that St. Petersburg’s economy is diversified. This, by the way, has helped us – to a large extent – to survive the hardships, which the global economy is going through right now. That’s why they trust us, I guess. Added to the conditions offered by the city’s administration. Today the authorities are not only trying not to interfere into businesses, but are also trying to help them. Not trying even, but providing actual help” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “You’re taking often drives through the city’s streets. Do you think the city has changed - compared to when you were just a citizen and now that you’re its governor?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I guess it HAS changed. Back in the days I – just as many ordinary citizens – used to neglect insignificant things – if it didn’t hit they eye. But today I am at a full awareness mode. Usually, if I see a serious violation or a problem, I make a phone call and say – I’ve noticed this there, please solve it. And usually it works. Next time I drive through the same place, everything’s fine” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Now that we’re passing the “Sportivnaya-2” metro station, it’s a good reason to ask about the fate of our subway system”  

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “When we formed the budget for 2014, we allocated 72 billion rubles for the subway construction needs in the next 3 years” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “That’s huge money, considering that the entire budget is 400 billion rubles” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “It hasn’t happened since the USSR’s collapse. Next year the “Sportivnaya-2” will become functional and we will build a number of new stations too. That’s 3 stations continuing the Frunzenskaya line, we will also build a depot on that line and open the “Novokrestovskaya”, the “Ulitsa Savushkina” and the “Teatralnaya” stations. Seriously. We’re planning to keep such pace in the future” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “You’ve mentioned the stadium, comfortable infrastructure, the subway. What else you – as the city’s governor – earmark as a top priority in your everyday work?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “To a large extent, during this year we’ve laid concrete foundation of St. Petersburg ‘s further economic development. We launched a program of retaining and restoring of the city’s historic central area. Im deeply convinced that if we failed to do this today, tomorrow could have been too late. During the year, we managed to work out a strategy until 2030, having attracted Russia’s brightest talents. Talking about particular achievements, we’ve completed a unique construction project – central interceptor facility. It is a very sophisticated facility, solving very important issues. It cleans 98% of all waste waters in St. Petersburg. This year we completed the northern segment of the Wester High-Speed Diameter. Frankly speaking, all project are very important. Its difficult to single out any particular issue – all of them are important for the residents. But talking about road network – I hope car owners won’t be offended by my words – no matter how many new roads we built, there will still be more cars than square meters of new pavement. That’s why it is also necessary for us to develop 2 things: means of public transportation - creating such comfortable public spaces, pedestrian areas; and possibilities for car owners to comfortably surpass the city center” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “As a car owner, I have to ask you that question – where would I put my car?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “The issue of developing parking spaces and intercepting parking lots is also important. We will create those wherever we have a possibility. Underground parking lots, interior parking lots and those inside inner yards possibly.  

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Will this eventually lead to pedestrian areas expanding, and traffic network providing detours?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “Yes, the Western High-Speed Diameter will allow the traffic to surpass the city center“ 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “We have reached the Birzhevaya square, at the stock exchange building. Did you mother take you to the Naval museum when you were a child?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “First of all, my father was a sailor. That’s why it wasn’t my mother who first took me to the Naval museum, but my father. And since then I’ve been here many times, I lived nearby at Nevsky avenue, 5”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “I was very upset when I learned that the museum was relocated from here. But then I thought that this other place probably has more comfortable conditions for things on display?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “To be honest, I was also a bit upset when I learnt the museum was moving elsewhere. It was an integral part of Leningrad and St. Petersburg. But today we’ve almost worked out a decision how to use this building”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “I wonder what will be here? What will happen with the stock exchange building? What are the city authorities’ plans?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “A federal-level museum. And I would like to express my gratitude to Mikhail Borisovich Piotrovskiy for this initiative. We have discussed it for some time – that the city needs a museum of military guard. And I’m ready to hand over the stock exchange building to the Hermitage, to make a museum here”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “That means there will be a branch of the Hermitage here, a heraldic museum?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “The museum of the Russian military guard and heraldic” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “That’s great! Whenever the Hermitage is involved, its always great!” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “And it will become a great gift to Hermitage to mark its 250th anniversary” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “As we remember, St. Petersburg  is often called “the culture capital”. Les talk culture now. What are the main milestones of 2013?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “If we talk about what happened there, let’s start with the Hermitage. A significant part of the Military Headquarters – having been fully renovated - was handed over to its possession. We also completed construction of the 2nd stage for the Mariinskiy Theatre. Now its safe to say the 2nd stage for the Pushkinskiy theatre is on its way as well. We had a great celebration of the Vaganova Academy’s jubilee and that of the Mikhailovskiy Theatre. And, naturally, we hosted the 2nd St. Petersburg Cultural Forum”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “At the Forum, you said that that our culture was in the same state as Russia in the times of Alexander Nevskiy. And you’ve been criticized for that statement. What did you mean by that?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “We are really feeling the pressure today. This is my opinion as a resident of St. Petersburg , not as its governor. This is the pressure from the East, from the people who are coming here to work. We must have an opportunity to make these people embrace the culture of St. Petersburg. The same concerns the Western influence. St. Petersburg is the mighty center of the Russian culture. We mustn’t lose focus about the huge inflow of mass culture, which not only our country, but the entire world is experiencing at the moment. We must oppose it in order to keep our own. Today’s St. Petersburg is something special. Every person who comes here and falls in love with the city – this is forever. That person becomes a carrier of our unique culture. And I don’t want our city to dissolve, I don’t want it to become “a global nothing”. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Leader of LibDems Vladimir Zhirinovskiy suggested moving the Ministry of Culture to St. Petersburg. What do you think of his idea?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “Our city is an informal culture capita of the Russian Federation. I think theis suggestion sounds rather rational. I would support it”. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “What do you think of the idea to hand some of capital’s functions over to St. Petersburg? 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “There’s nothing scary in it. To the contrary, there are positives. Having such federal bodies in our city would raise its status”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “But where would they be accommodated? They’ll come here and will need flats”. 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “We will not demolish any buildings to build housing for the judges. There are certain blank spots in the city belonging to certain organizations. That’s where the new housing will be built” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Residents of St. Petersburg do remember that relocation of the Constitutional Court was a painful process” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “No-one will be evicted or relocated. And the main thing is that the city will not spend a dime. It will all be financed by the federal budget”. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “If we suppose – hypothetically – that the Ministry of Culture moves to St. Petersburg. Where will it be located?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “The Russian Federation owns a lot of buildings – including those in the historic central area of St. Petersburg. I think they will find a good place. If they ask us for help, we will certainly help them with that”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Academic Likhachev described this view as the best view of all times and nations”.  

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “Every morning, on my way to wrok, I pass through the Troitskiy Bridge and have the pleasure to observe all this beauty, and a feeling of excitement wakes within me. I used to live not far from here – at the Nevskiy avenue. Spent 17 years there. And I admired this beauty every day. I breathed it, so to speak. That’s what I thank our city for – many of the things I have, things I feel, the way I approach matters and people, the way I treat beauty – all this came to me through this beauty” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Georgiy Sergeevich, you mentioned the influence from the East. Labor migrants, “amoral internationals” as Vladimir Putin puts it. What are you doing about it as a governor?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “First of all, we need to impose control over quota of the labor migrants. We’re planning to hold tougher talks with all enterprises, which are attracting large numbers of workforce from the East”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Wouldn’t it be easier to just summon the heads of these enterprises and tell them – we now have a strict quote and those who violates it will see tough sanctions?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “We need to assess the real necessity of workforce they’re attracting. We will also demand of them not to breed illegal migrants”. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “The majority of St. Petersburg’s residents will say – they’re coming here, send their children to our kindergartens, give birth in our maternity wards, and we’re paying taxes for them”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “Starting next year, the city will receive money for every foreign worker brought to a certain enterprise – in the form of a work permit. The sum hasn’t yet been determined, but that would be around 5-6 thousand rubles per month. This money will alleviate the social pressure these workers are creating. Speculation among businessmen that Russians can’t or won’t work is absolute nonsense. We have enough people willing and, most importantly, able to work. We have a very low unemployment rate, because people are finding jobs, but that doesn’t mean we have to bring in labor force from abroad in large numbers. Although, today we cant do without their contribution as well” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Georgiy Sergeevich, I will lobby the interests of our channel a little, now that we have reached our building. The city’s channel must be a continuation of all these palaces and bridges – a 5-million city cannot do without its own channel, can it? Its one of the ways to create a comfortable information environment in our city. Is there anything about it in the Strategy-2030?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “As you know, we’re supporting our television, giving opportunities to expand coverage. I know that you’re planning a nationwide coverage already. The fact you’re broadcasting to the whole of Russia is great. I think we need to create quality studies, which will produce interesting shows. The things I see on air – and what our residents tell me – we all like what the “Saint-Petersburg” channel does today. I want it to be a solid channel, to be watched not only by residents of St. Petersburg, but by people from other cities as well. We – as a cultural capital – must be setting our own examples”. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Would the same media concept apply to the Strategy-2030?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “We have a special designated part in it concerning information policies. We have to think of modern formats. And foremost – about internet technologies. Television is actual too, we mustn’t forget about the traditional media”. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Were you running around here as a kid?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I used to run around here, ride scooters and bicycles here. When I grew up, was about 12, I used to swim from the Vsilievskiy Island to the Petropavlovskaya Fortress. Police was strict with us for that, but it did take place. There used to be float-boards in the middle over there. We swam to them, took a rest and swam on. During the White Nights we were out all the time. I lived at the Nevskiy until the age of 17. This was all mine and it will stay with me until the end of my days” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Put yourseld back in time and imagine you would later become the city’s governor” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I couldn’t imagine this. Back then, though, there were no governors, only secretaries. But I had a dream of becoming either a sailor or a pilot, OR, after 1961, a cosmonaut” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Now that you mentioned Soviet system of governing, at the recent press-conference of president Putin, he was asked about enlarging St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. And Vladimir Vladimirovich cited the example of the soviet-style city management, when both Leningrad and the Leningrad region were controlled by the same body”.

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “The thing is we all lived under one system. That’s why we had a regional party committee, which was responsible for political governance. But we had two executive committees – one for the city and one for the region. That meant we had 2 executive powers. But today we also have 2 executive powers. We can’t separate regional power from the one in the city – we are very closely connected. We have got a lot of common matters and cooperation in economy. Huge number of people from the region are working in the city, whilst part of the city’s residents are working in the region. Is there a need to unite? Today I don’t see it. Today me and Alexander Yuryevich Drozdenko – the governor of the Leningrad region – installed a Christmas tree at the Proletarskoy Diktatury Square – as a gift to those living both in the city and in the region. We spent our own money on it. Alexander Yuryevich went to the Vyborg district and cut it down himself, like a real Father Frost, and we set it up. That’s how we live – in friendship and effective cooperation” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “This house used to have a corner, but a bomb fell on it during the war and cut its corner. And there used to be a shop selling juices – we went there to drink juices, it had the best grape juice in the city” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “What about promoting the St. Petersburg brand?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “There are certain plans, I will voice them in the beginning of the year, if you don’t mind. We will launch several interesting projects aimed at increasing attractiveness to tourists. Last year we exceeded the mark of 6 million tourists – both Russians and foreigners. This year its 10% more. I’m confident that St. Petersburg can accommodate 15-20 million tourists. The main thing is to further develop tourist infrastructure, develop culture facilities – so that people have things to see apart from these outstanding architectural ensembles. And our idea to host the annual cultural forum helps us a lot. Because it creates new cultural magnets for tourists”. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “You’re saying that this Culural Forum is one of the brands to promote the cultural St. Petersburg?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “And also enrichment of our city’s cultural agenda” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “So tourism is not a periphery task for you, it seems to be among the priority ones?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “Of course. It also brings profit to our budget, that’s why we take it respectfully and with due seriousness” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “You can’t govern a city like St. Petersburg without a team, can you?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “I don’t really like this word – “team”. Because a team is created to solve a short-term issue. Its different here – we’re forming an effective and able-bodied government and administration. It’s a limitless process. Some people go to make way for new people” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “So we will see more staff reshuffling?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “They were, they are and they will be. Our task is to have an effective government. Our task is that it consists not of people loyal to the governor, but of those who are willing to work and find this job interesting”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “This is Nevskiy, 3. I lived in Nevskiy,5. Mother told me that during the siege of Leningrad there was an airstike, she ran from the direction of the Alexandrovskiy garden – terrible noise, a feeling that a missile would hit her. The gate was shut. It is still there, by the way. And she crawled through here. She was a 14-year old girl and was able to squeeze through a hole here. She ran inside the house and the bomb dropped nearby, but didn’t go off – probably things here now look like they did back then. Then someone opened the gate for her”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Where else but in a typical well-shaped inner yard of St. Petersburg that it’d be better to ask a question – what are the authorities planning to do with the historic center area?"  

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “There’s nothing to worry about. Our program is called “Retaining St. Petersburg’s historic center”. The problem is that there are still a lot of communal flats in St. Petersburg central area. They have no central heating, no basic things like a shower or bathroom. And that’s in the 21st century. Our task is to rectify and make ideal the whole communal infrastructure. Secondly, retain where it’s possible, restore where it’s necessary – all historic buildings and monumental buildings. Thirdly, provide new housing for residents of communal flats. As for restoring and reconstruction of historic buildings, it has never been a matter of forcefully evicting or relocating anyone from the city center – and it never will be as long as I’m the governor. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “It is now being interpreted as “people are being forcefully moved and then something will be built here”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “It will work this way – we’re conducting an inventory of the building to know the real state of things. If the building is considered hazardous to live in, we move people to a temporary housing. That’s until the capital renovation is completed, then the people move back in. Naturally, their temporary houses will be just as large as the ones they live in. Those who are willing to make a permanent move to a more comfortable house will move to a different place. Another scenario – when an investor comes to town, who is interested in a particular building. He checks the building’s state, evaluates how much money he needs to invest and then makes his offer to every individual tenant. This is an absolutely civilized way. The authorities will not push anyone to move out” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Let’s assume 10 tenants say yes, but 1 says no”. 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “Then that’s the investor’s problem. I think that one can always come up with an offer any person would take. And a third scenario – there are buildings in the city center absolutely unsuitable for living, totally hazardous. We will demolish them and create new public spaces – parks or maybe parking lots. But in any case – while Im the city’s governor, nobody shall be forcefully moved from the city center. That’s 100% ” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Those opposing this project are asking – who will be determining a building’s condition?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “Not today nor tomorrow this matter would be dealt with by a particular organization. There are commissions consisting of professionals, who are inspecting the buildings. If tenants – for some reason – question their qualification, they may turn to the city’s authorities for additional checks, or settle the matter in court”. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Quarters at Moika and Kolomna were chosen as an experiment. Why not the old Ligovka?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “Today its surreal to think that the city budget can handle everything. We’re negotiating with the federal government to allocate state money for that. But it still won’t be enough. That’s why its important to attract private investors. These two areas have those private investors today, who are working on these projects, while I think that the city budget money will be directed firstly at fixing and replacing all utilities” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “I’ll ask you a hypothetical question of a hypothetical resident of a hypothetical house at the Bolshaya Konushennaya. I live in a 200 sq.meter flat, renovated it myself, I am surrounded by communal flats, the building was considered hazardous, resident of communal flats would love to move, I don’t want to move. What should I do then? “

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “Regardless of what you have done there in your flat, this is threat to your life. If a building is considered hazardous, it can collapse at any moment. Your flat will collapse with it, that’s why you have to decide – you continue risking your life and the lives of your next of kin, or you move to a different flat. If your building can be restored, you will return to your flat. If not – and it has to be brought down – you will receive a market-based compensation for your flat” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “We’re talking of 6 thousand buildings. Do you have any idea how many are hazardous and how many are not?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “Only 5 or 6 are hazardous”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “There’s so little info on that matter around. Where would one get it, to avoid rumors and speculation?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg:  “We have all this info on our government’s official website. Not a single decision is taken without the consent of the public and tenants” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “Do you know how the subject of retaining the historic center is used in politics? Are you aware that you’re putting yourself in the crosshairs?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I am fully aware of that. But im used to trust actions, not words. We’ll continue doing it, people will see and, I hope, understand. We can talk for ages without any real sense” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “May I get warm here?” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “An eternal ship – that’s what I read about the Aurora in my childhood years” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “What are you reading now?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “Mainly I read stuff I bring back from work – that’s documents. That’s what I read before going to sleep”. 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “Here’s where I lived, now its closed and the gate is different. This is my entrance and I lived at the 4th floor. This gate was shut at night. A utility woman Nadya shut this gate in the evening. I lived here until 17 with my mother and father” 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “14 square meter room for the whole family?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “We had a good life, lots of fun”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “So you have a vast personal experience with communal flats?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “We had one kitchen for everyone. Which had the only basin for the whole flat, there was a heater and a toilet – right in the kitchen. Pretty typical it was. In 1963 we had steam heating installed, so me and my dad de-assembled a heater and threw its parts out of the window”

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “That Leningrad where you spent your childhood and today’s St. Petersburg in the first quarter of the 21st century – are they different cities?”

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “St. Petersburg has always been there and always will be. Whatever the times, St. Petersburg is St. Petersburg. It is a unique city. It has its own energy, aura, spirit, which feed all of us”  

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist:  “A question which we always address to our interviewees – I am, Georgiy Poltavchenko, living on this planet to…” 

Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “That’s a serious and global question. I live so that our city lives and prospers. So that somebody, many years later, can stand – just like me – near a house where he spent his childhood and say – im happy that I was born in St. Petersburg, and working in St. Petersburg for the good of its residents. This is happiness. 

Yuriy Zinchuk, journalist: “Thank you, Georgiy Sergeevich. Good luck to you on this rocky road” 

 

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