Food kiosks to be erased from Moscow’s map

The Moscow government plans to start removing the capital's take-away food kiosks, which it claims are damaging the city's visual appearance and are a potential health hazard. Just days before a government deadline, Moscow kiosk owners say they have no in

The government of Moscow believes there are now enough shops and restaurants in permanent buildings to serve its 10 million inhabitants. So the 12,000 temporary kiosks across the capital are surplus to requirements.

The Mayor’s Retail Marketing Department, which is responsible for the kiosks, refused to return our calls for clarification, but this is what Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin told them:

“The time has come to close all these stalls, we can get by perfectly well without them. This must be done by the end of 2007,” Resin said.

The Mayor’s press service has released a statement on what will be closed, and what can stay.

The Mayor believes there are still not enough ice cream, news and flower sellers in buildings, so these kiosks can breathe freely for now. But Russian favourites like Shaurma (selling kebabs) and Kroshka Kartoshka (baked potatoes) will be moved on, with the authorities citing dirty premises, sale of alcohol to the underage and tax evasion.

Most stallholders had no idea they might be shut down within days. They claim to have all the necessary permits and their very popular.

The reaction from consumers was mixed. While some see the benefits of competition and consider the kiosk convenient to use, others concentrate on the raising prices and flaws in the quality of the service.

Stall conditions aren’t ideal. With the rodents breaking into the stalls, scientists found 70% of the shaurmas sold in Moscow are infected with the dangerous e.coli virus. But the manner of the close-down move is still unclear, with some reports claiming a possibility of a phased removal to 2009.

Many stallholders are unawares, as are many consumers who’ll find their local fast-food outlet will  disappear overnight.