Bad Roads, Drinking, Utilities – Russians’ Chief Concerns

MOSCOW, January 30 (RIA Novosti) – Bad roads, the spread of alcoholism and the critical situation in the housing maintenance and utilities sector are Russia’s most pressing problems, followed by poor healthcare services and drug addiction, the Federal Statistics Service (FSS) said on Wednesday.

Last September, the FSS conducted a survey covering 10,000 households in all parts of Russia and a total of 19,800 respondents aged 15 and above.

Over 60 percent of respondents said bad roads and traffic safety were their main concern, followed by alcoholism (46.6 percent) and the inadequate state of the housing maintenance and utilities sector (40.5 percent), FSS head Alexander Surinov said.

These results echo other recent surveys, particularly one conducted by the VTsIOM state pollster, which also found that the majority of respondents were concerned by utilities tariffs. Utility payments account for one-tenth of an average household’s budget and are constantly growing.

Experts forecast electricity prices will rise 12 to 15 percent by July 2013, heating prices will be up eight to ten percent, and natural gas prices will keep growing at a rate of 15 percent a year.

This past September hundreds of people took to the streets of Moscow to protest the rising cost of utilities. Demonstrators demanded that rates for water, heat and electricity be frozen. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities across the country.

In early January the Civil Defense and Emergency Situations Ministry said the number of major accidents in Russia’s utilities sector has increased sixfold in the first nine months of 2012, year on year. The principal causes of accidents are the obsolescence of infrastructure and equipment, water supply and sewage systems, mistakes committed by personnel and external forces (road accidents, construction work near a utility system), the center said.


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