Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sobyanin ready to leave if people want

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is proud of his tackling of traffic in the capital and says he is ready to work wherever the state sends him.

Sobyanin, in an interview with Echo Moskvy, said he was ready to leave the job as mayor if he does not earn the people’s trust.

“If the majority stops trusting me, I will leave the next day,” the head of the capital said. He also added, however, that “if the country leaders say I must go, I will say yes and will go wherever they tell me, but I would like to stay in Moscow.”

He added that he was not planning to run for president.

Muscovites, however, would like a chance to elect a mayor (68 percent of respondents, up from 51 percent last year), according to a poll by the Levada Center polling agency. Only 13 percent want the mayor to be appointed, as he is now, down from 32 percent, and 18 percent do not know.

He said he thought Muscovites have started trusting the City Hall and the mayor more.

“Most importantly for me, perhaps, is that in Moscow there are timid sprouts of trust in the government of Moscow and, perhaps, in me,” he said, adding that before he came “there was a difficult psychological situation in Moscow.”

He cited a change in the city’s architectural policy as his main achievement, the starting of a metro construction program and major modernization projects in education and health. “That’s why I blow my own trumpet,” he said.

The mayors view is supported by another Levada poll, where 25 percent less people are disappointed with Moscow authorities than in 1999, and 33 percent less Muscovites are complaining about the lack of action from the local authorities.

Sobyanin insisted that the answer to traffic problems is public transport development, but did not mention complaints from car owners after bus lanes were introduced.

Sobyanin himself evaluates his work pretty highly. “I did not have to take risks. I could have said: guys, this problem cannot be solved at all in Moscow.” But he stressed that he took responsibility and promised that it will be easier to move around the city in two to three years.

He reiterated that the priority is public transport, however, when asked whether he would use public transport himself, he answered that “the live interview would have to be done in a different place.”

As for traffic, 60 percent of the population does not believe that Sobyanin will be able to solve the problem, up from last year’s 48 percent. But 20 percent of Muscovites remain positive, while 20 percent do not know.

As for complaints that in Sobyanin’s year in power 11 architectural monuments were demolished in Moscow, he said that none of them were actually monuments.

“There was an ugly three-story house on Bolshoi Kozikhinsky. Should we consider that a monument? Then the whole city should be considered a monument,” he said, adding that he was not an architect or an expert.

He also confirmed his stance on gay pride marches in Moscow, saying that Muscovites were against it. “Come out on to the street with a microphone, Muscovites will tell you everything,” he said, adding that the people’s opinion should be respected.

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