YAROSLAVL, June 2 (RIA Novosti) – A group of activists in the Central Russian city of Yaroslavl planted potatoes in road potholes “to see if these potatoes will grow sooner than the city authorities repair the roads.”
Road construction and repair in Russia is notoriously inefficient, with funds allocated for road maintenance often embezzled or misused. The quality of the road surface in many parts of the country remains extremely poor, even when highways are frequently repaired.
Participants, equipped with light-reflecting vests and spray paint, ringed several hundred of potholes on the city roads with bright-colored paint on Sunday morning in a bid to attract the attention of city authorities.
The activists, most of them drivers, also planted several kilograms of potatoes in particularly deep potholes. They made photos of their work and plan to send them to the city mayor’s office with a letter demanding to improve road maintenance.
“I want my voice to be heard by the authorities. [I want] them to start improving roads, which, in fact, are non-existent new,” one of the activists, Ruslan Allayarov, told RIA Novosti. “I drive my car daily, and every five or ten minutes I run into a pothole. I’m outraged by that.”
Similar campaigns, organized by the Angry Urbanites public organization, were held in numerous Russian cities this spring. In the Siberian city of Tomsk, activists planted flowers in the deepest potholes in the city’s streets in late May.
On April 1, activists of the movement have found over 100 potholes on the roads of Moscow and spray-painted them at night.
According to an old popular Russian saying, “Russia has two woes – fools and roads.” In a survey released in late January by the Federal Statistics Service (FSS), over 60 percent of Russians cited bad roads among their main concerns.
On April 10, Samara Region Governor Nikolai Merkushkin ordered more funding for road maintenance after UK media published lurid reports about giant potholes in the city’s streets. British media published images showing cars and trucks which had fallen into huge sinkholes, claiming all of them were in the same city – Samara in the Volga area, Russia’s sixth largest city.