New Russian website sets targets on apartment repairs

Dec 13, 2012
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After struggling to coalesce the increasingly targeted Russian opposition movement, anti-corruption activist Aleksei Navalny has launched a website to tap into public frustration over poor conditions in Russian apartment blocks. And after a month online, the site seems to be hitting a nerve, The New York Times reports.

Navalny’s project, Roszkh.ru, allows users to fill out and submit automatically generated legal complaints about problems in communal areas of apartment buildings. Those areas are supposed to be maintained by municipal authorities, for which Russians pay a substantial monthly fee, but rarely are.

 

 

The site features a large list of boxes to tick – from missing light bulbs to moldy walls – and lets users draft a request, citing applicable laws, to the local housing authority to fix the problem. Since its November launch, the site has seen some 46,000 complaints submitted, and about 2,600 of those have since been reported as “fixed,” The New York Times reports.

The website has been making waves on official levels as well. In response to the increased number of requests coming from the site, Russia’s chief housing inspector sent a letter to his employees telling them that even though the site is “a policy by the opposition to discredit all levels of the government,” the requests coming through the site should be addressed immediately, according to The New York Times.

Navalny, a former real estate lawyer, told the newspaper that he’s trying to get average Russians involved in anti-corruption efforts. “It’s clear that an ordinary person has a hard time helping us fight corruption at Gazprom,” he said. “But unfortunately in Russia, corruption surrounds a person everywhere. We are trying to create a mechanism for people to fight corruption themselves.”


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Transitions Online

Transitions Online (www.tol.org) is an Internet magazine that covers political, social, cultural, and economic issues in the former communist countries of Europe and Central Asia. The magazine has a strong network of local contributors, who provide valuable insight into events in the region’s 29 countries.
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