Moscow to extend beyond city limits

Vladimir Putin and Sergey Sobyanin (RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has supported the idea recently floated by President Dmitry Medvedev to enlarge the city of Moscow.

­The decision to extend the limits of the Russian capital is long overdue, Putin told Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin during a meeting on Wednesday. “Moscow, as we know, has long been suffocating within its current city limits,” Putin said. He expressed the hope that enlarging the city’s boundaries would help invigorate the construction industry, among other things. He noted that the volume of residential housing being constructed in the city has recently been decreasing.  

Sobyanin said that city authorities and the government of the Moscow Region had reached an agreement on the incorporation of more land plots by the Russian capital.

On Wednesday, the Moscow City Duma approved the agreement with the Moscow region on the land swap. The city of Moscow will integrate 7,234 hectares of land which is currently administered by the Moscow region to its territory. On the other hand, the region will incorporate 3,284 hectares of the city’s land. The regional Duma will vote on the issue this Thursday, where, if the motion passes, it will be sent to the Federation Council (the parliament’s upper house) for approval.

More decisions may follow as the governments of Moscow and the Moscow Region fulfill the president’s order concerning the enlargement of the nation’s capital. Speaking at the world economic forum in St. Petersburg on June 17, Medvedev suggested that the boundaries of Moscow should be enlarged.

The move will make it possible to create a federal capital district, where some executive and legislative bodies could be transferred. Currently, Moscow and the Moscow Region are two different subjects of the Russian Federation, which receive separate financing and individually appoint their respective leaders.

The president had earlier announced plans to form an international financial center in Moscow. He believes the extension of the Moscow city limits may improve the development of the megalopolis and the quality of life for a huge number of people. Many federal administrative functions and state institutions may be moved beyond the current boundaries, he noted.

Fifty-one percent of the Muscovites surveyed by the Russian Public Opinion Study Center (VTsIOM) said they like the idea of forming a capital federal district.

Sobyanin had earlier said that the resettlement of federal agencies would be the president’s decision. The head of state and the government will decide which agencies must move. The mayor also noted that the city authorities have complete understanding with Moscow’s regional government on this issue. But he said there will be no unification of the city and the region around it. A special territory will be allotted for the development of Moscow, without holding a referendum on the broadening of Moscow’s limits.