Moscow Renovation: The True Cost of Consent

Getting the Moscow renovations approved is proving to be difficult, but the government’s spending campaign behind it is easy money.  

Experts estimate the cost of demolishing all of the “Khrushevok” 5-storey buildings in Moscow will total 3.5 trillion rubles. Thankfully before any of the construction begins, money needs to be spent to convince residents of the benefits of renovation. Toylike showrooms and make-up artist for officials, Sofia Savina figured out how much the suppression of popular unrest costs.


Not all citizens support the capital’s government renovation program with the Facebook group "Muscovites against demolition" boasting 26.7 thousand followers. And anywhere between 20 to 50 thousand participants, according to various estimates, went to the May rally against the renovations in Moscow.

The authorities started the resettlement program with a "renovation of opinions." To reduce the degree of discontent, they hired bots to astroturf positive comments on social networks and bought advertising from well-known bloggers deemed "in the interests of the Moscow Mayor's Office" were ordered from Ilya Varlamov.

The mayor has solidly invested 20 million rubles to be spent by the Committee on Architecture and Urban Planning on "information-analytical and advisory support" of its activities. The corresponding application was published on the state procurement website.

According to the documentation, officials want to "popularize the decisions of the Moscow Government." For this, it is necessary to cover their work in print media, social networks and blogs before the end of 2017.

Terms of reference for public procurement for information and analytical and advisory support of the Moscow Architecture and Urban Planning Committee

Another service is a study of the perceptions of the renovations, where the "expectations and fears of the population" associated with the program should be identified.

Another service monitors the media and social networks from Odnoklassniki to Instagram for "negative statements" about Moscomarchitecture.

Also, 20 million rubles includes payment for a "stylist, make-up artist, and image-maker" for a photo shoot, as the chairman and head of Moscow Architecture and the chief architect of Moscow want to make a portfolio.


The Moscow Mayor’s office is using more than just the internet to convince residents of the benefits of the program. In VDNKh several model homes were built and shown to the public on July 6 in the framework of the Moscow Urban Forum.

The structure was called a "show-room" and were examples of the new apartments’ designs; a one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom with a yard, lawns, parking places, lights, and playgrounds.

The model homes, according to the organizers, were seen by 30 thousand Muscovites. Visitors could go into the apartment, touch the finish, check the plumbing, windows and doors. In an attempt to create a sense of homeliness, paintings were hung on the walls of the "show rooms" and flowers were placed on the windowsills.

Twitter users’ react to Sobyanin’s showroom

However, what the city districts will look like after the renovations is still unclear even to the Moscow Construction Complex, as the results of the development competition will be finalized only in the fall. At the same time, the Department of Urban Development Policy of Moscow has already given 49.9 million rubles for the development of the renovation program, won by the Research and Development Center "City Development" LLC.

The city authorities plan to build showrooms in every district of the city affected by the renovations. According to data on the website of the mayor of Moscow, citizens have voted for demolition in 91 districts of Moscow.

How much will the exhibition houses cost for the government? It is difficult to calculate, as authorities responsible for the renovation program have not published an application for the showrooms’ construction on the procurement website.

The organizers of the exhibition assure that real materials are shown in the designs used to decorate future apartments of the Khrushchevs’ residents. The interior was not made up of cheap goods, in them were installed non-woven wallpaper, laminate, plastic windows, tiles in the bathroom, furniture and interior items. To build similar four-apartment houses-mock-ups in each "renovation" district of Moscow is equivalent to the repair budget of 300 Russian families’ apartments.


On July 3 in VDNKh, construction of the Moscow urban development exhibition center began. Later, the above mentioned show room will be transferred to there from the Moscow Urban Forum.

The pavilion will be opened in September. Designing the exhibition area will cost the city 36.5 million rubles. The construction of the exhibition center will cost 128.2 million rubles.

These types of exhibitions usually cost the capital budget a pretty penny, the Moscow Department of Urban Policy has spent 16 million rubles this year for only  organizational and technical support for its participation in the Moscow urban forum. An additional 16.9 million rubles will be spent in the production of an interactive map of Moscow for the exhibition.

The participation of the Moscow Committee on Architecture and Urban Planning in the festival "Golden Section of 2017" cost 2.9 million rubles and the organization of the stand at the Moscomarchitecture international exhibition of architecture and design "ARKh Moscow" cost 7.4 million rubles.

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