New Ministry to Oversee Russia’s Troubled Utilities Sector

MOSCOW, November 1 (RIA Novosti) – The Kremlin announced on Friday that a new ministry had been established to oversee the country’s troubled utilities sector, a major source of public discontent in recent years.

The new ministry, based on the federal construction agency Rosstroi, will absorb the functions of all the agencies overseeing the country’s construction and utilities sectors, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement.

The ministry is intended to oversee the final work of the state-run Olympstroy corporation, which is constructing facilities for the most expensive Olympics ever.

Utility prices have risen steadily over the past decade, and a recent opinion poll showed that more than 50 percent of Russians consider utility payments the biggest concern in their lives.

The number of major accidents in Russia’s utilities sector increased sixfold in the first nine months of last year, compared with the year before, the government said in January.

The new ministry will be led by former Ivanov Region Governor Mikhail Men, who worked in the Moscow Mayor’s Office from 2002 to 2005 and is the son of a Russian Orthodox priest.

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