Work and live in Sochi as in the capital city
Preparations for Winter Olympics-2014 in Sochi attract close attention of the public and authorities
Anatoly N. Pakhomov has been Sochi mayor since April 2009. Born in 1960 in Krasnodar region he graduated from the Kuban Agriculture Institute. He worked in the Young Communist League organization of the institute, as Soviet Communist Party committee secretary of Krasnodarskoe training and test farm, first secretary of Krasnodar City Committee of the Young Communist League. He later worked in various commercial and production companies and headed the consumer market and pricing policy department of the mayor’s office of Krasnodar and the territorial department of State Trade Inspectorate for Krasnodar region. In 2006-2009 he was the mayor of Anapa. He holds the degree of Candidate of Technical Sciences and PhD and was awarded with the Sign of Honor Order. Married with a son and daughter. He headed Krasnodar regional federation of beach sports.
PRIORITY ATTENTION TO WAR VETERANS
– Mr. Pakhomov! World War Two veterans and specifically housing provision to them are not less important than Olympic construction in the year of the 65th Victory anniversary. How did you resolve the issue in the city where housing has always been a major pain?
– It is an important question for me, as we took major effort to resolve the issue. This year the Sochi administration will completely resolve the problem of housing provision to war veterans. After a corresponding decree of the Russian president was issued the Krasnodar region designed a special program that listed all war veterans in Sochi in need of improved living conditions. Targeted subsidies were appropriated to finance a major part of construction. The rest was financed by the city and the investor that quickly built a multi-apartment block in the settlement of Lazarevskoe, which is a district of Big Sochi. On the eve of the Victory Day a gala ceremony was held to hand over keys from new apartments to most of the veterans. Others are waiting for their turn in the settlement of Golovinka near Dagomys where finishing work is going on in a house ready for commissioning. The tenants will be mostly veterans who for various reasons were not included into the list of people in need of improved living conditions before March 1, 2005. I will not go in detail what difficult work we had to accomplish. The list of veterans in need exceeded 100 people. But the main thing is that the house will be commissioned shortly.
I have heard people claim that housing for veterans was provided at the expense of Olympic funds. That absolutely does not correspond to reality, as the money was used from completely various and unrelated “pockets”. The upcoming Games only helped comprehend the status of the capital of the Olympics and the growing responsibility. The situation makes us work and live as in the capital city today, tomorrow, and up to 2014.
INTERESTS OF THE CITY AND RESIDENTS
– Do city residents think likewise? Two years ago the locals publicly expressed their opposition to becoming the venue of the Olympic Games. They staged rallies with slogans specifically in places where private houses had to be pulled down. What is the situation today?
– First and foremost, it shall be noted that both the city and residents have already profited from the upcoming Olympics. In 2008 Sochi was in a plight and people were well aware of that. The city had dilapidated infrastructure, there were frequent disruptions with energy and water supplies, transport logistics were in a deadlock and could not cope with the growing traffic. Evil tongues even proposed to list record-long traffic jams in Sochi in the Guinness Book of Records. The garbage dump in Adler expanded close to the sea and posed a major problem. Nobody has been properly dealing with Big Sochi problems for a long time. The Olympics gave an impulse without which it would take local authorities a hundred years to cope with all the tasks.
The people initially expressed dissatisfaction as they were unaware of all the circumstances and were afraid of losing traditional lifestyle and getting nothing in exchange. Now, as they see undergoing changes and begin to benefit from them, Sochi residents clearly understand what benefits they will enjoy in the final end. For example, the recently commissioned bypass road and tunnel considerably improved the traffic situation in the city although road construction still continues.
The new road and railway shuttle traffic to Krasnaya Polyana radically improved the situation. In previous years the hard-of-access area was considered forgotten by God. Nobody even applied for land for construction purposes. Today the situation is radically different. The 177-kilometer long Dzhugba-Lazarevskoe-Sochi gas pipeline is of major importance. It is being built along the seabed four kilometers from the coast. It will be the energy artery not only for the Olympic Park and all Alpine skiing facilities, but also for numerous residential settlements on the Black Sea coast.
I can continue the list of benefits however, unfortunately, it is too early to say that all our residents have appraised the situation and that everything is quiet and fine. A new apple of discord appeared in April between constructors and residents of the Imereti Valley where the main Olympic Park objects are being erected when geological prospecting began at the site of the main stadium which is to host the opening and closing ceremonies of Olympic Games in 2014. Residents barricaded access to the lands of their vegetable gardens and demanded all project documents and clarifications. Experts of Olympstroi State Corporation, representatives of Krasnodar regional Olympic department, social security services of the city administration, and the head of Adler district met with the people… As similar situations periodically occur in other places, we designed a common plan of actions. It is clear the people whose realty will be pulled down want to enjoy maximum compensation. They have heard Prime Minister Vladimir Putin say that Olympic needs should not affect the interests of any Sochi resident. His words are our guide for action.
I can state with full responsibility that all emerging problems with compensations for pulled-down private houses and erections are resolved individually and people are offered a wide choice in exchange. In the village of Nekrasovskoe on the territory of Imereti Valley a cottage settlement with all infrastructure is ready to host re-settlers. If a family does not want to resettle there it can receive monetary compensation and build a house itself on a land plot offered by the city administration. There are enough options so that nobody remains offended. Besides, people have to comprehend that re-settlement from the area of Olympic sites is a general world practice, that the national prestige of the country rather than local interests are at stake, that the time of the Olympics will not be delayed because of private ambitions, and that the city will be anyway ready for the event by the fixed time… I believe there is no more comment.
– Mr. Pakhomov, how true is the information that mostly foreign workers are employed at Olympic construction sites?
– The issue is outside the competence of city authorities as it is Olympstroi that arranges all construction tenders and supervises the progress. However the city is aware of the situation. Olympic construction program comprises 235 objects. Currently the work is going on at 44 objects where nearly 16 thousand workers are employed. Foreigners comprise slightly above one thousand of the workforce. As far as I know the ratio has been observed since construction began. The approach is absolutely correct as federal appropriations earmarked for such a major project shall remain in the country rather than support a foreign economy.
– Vancouver, which hosted the latest Olympic Games, was recognized
the best in the world by favorable residence conditions. Life in Sochi is likely to also improve after Olympic construction is over. What is being done today for that?
– The answer to the question is both easy and difficult. It is clear that everything what is being erected today according to the Olympic construction program will not be dismantled or withdrawn. Sochi residents and guests will be able to use every facility in full. I will cite one example. The Barrier-Free Environment Program has been launched to make the city accessible for handicapped people. They comprise not only people in wheelchairs as many may think, but also pregnant women and mothers with infants, post-surgery patients, and simply obese people. The group includes everyone for who it is difficult to walk without entrance ramps and who cannot use ordinary toilets, etc.
Yet before the work began social security service staff in Sochi examined nearly a thousand buildings hosting various offices. They turned out to be completely unfit for low-mobility people. We also resolved the problem of their movement along city streets. Leading architects of Sochi got into wheelchairs and drove in the city center. The impressions they got were more eloquent than any talk on the subject. It is no secret that requirements of the International Olympic Committee for Olympic host city gave an impulse to the barrier-free city development. We used Vancouver example as a starting point. All developers and constructors have committed to erect buildings and pave pedestrian zones barrier-free. By 2014 the four main zones – the mountain cluster, the Imereti Valley, and two clusters in downtown Sochi – will fully meet international hospitality requirements. In future the work will continue to make the whole of Big Sochi barrier-free.
– You mentioned Olympic objects which anyone wishing will be able to use after the Games. And what do you think about fears there will be nobody willing to use them?
– The fears originate because of lack of knowledge. Already today we have a draft program of post-Olympic heritage where the mission of each facility has been determined after the end of the Games. Even the network of doping laboratories, which seems quite unclaimed in ordinary conditions, will be used for health improvement and medical prophylactics. We shall accommodate feldsher-midwife stations there and offices for general practitioners. The city of Sochi includes 78 rural settlements and such health posts are of major significance for them.
All sport objects in the mountain cluster – Alpine ski-runs and bobsleigh/ luge tracks, ski jumping hills, snowboard and freestyle facilities – will develop into an excellent year-round training base for Russian teams. There was much talk after Vancouver Olympics that our athletes in the sports have nowhere to train in Russia. The possibility will appear after 2014. The city will get additional business-class and social housing space. It will be used to accommodate medical staff who Sochi catastrophically lacks. One of the reasons is the absence of the necessary housing. Big future is also in store for ice palaces in the Olympic Park. The main Snowy Peaks stadium accommodating 45 thousand people will develop into a concert hall. The speed-skating rink will transform into a big exhibition facility. The media center will become a major trade center in the south of Russia. All big sport facilities will develop into social and cultural objects that will form the basis of the future world spa in Sochi. Besides numerous aqua parks in Olympic objects the Imereti Valley will also get a big recreation park of the same level as Disneyland in Paris…
Our plans have nothing in common with grandiose and fantastic New Vasyuki ambitions of a well-known literary hero. We are convinced Sochi will offer all leisure and recreation possibilities which our people enjoy abroad today. We expect major tourist flows from Russia and abroad after the Olympic Games.
Interviewed by Viktor SIRYK