Public utility and housing companies in 13 Russian regions may at least face Gazprom’s gas supply shutdowns or cuts, the Izvestiya daily reported. In six regions such restrictions have already been imposed: last week consumers in Makhachkala, Vladikavkaz, Bryansk, several towns in Krasnodar Territory and Ingushetia, as well as the Moscow region’s Sergiev Posad were cut off from hot water. Further on, such measures may affect the Moscow, Tver, Volgograd, Vladimir, Smolensk, Yaroslavl and Astrakhan regions, as well as the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, as these regions are put on the list of Gazprom Mezhregiongaz company’s biggest and most troubled debtors.
According to Gazprom Mezhregiongaz cited by the daily, as of July 1, Moscow region has the most serious debt problems with Russia’s gas giant. Its debt totals 10.6 billion rubles, of which 7.8 billion rubles are indebted by heat generating companies that supply hot water to the population. The Tver region ranks second on the debtors’ list owing 4.36 billion rubles (of them 3.23 billion rubles should be paid off by Tver Communal Utilities Systems). North Ossetia-Alania comes third owing 2.85 billion rubles.
At the same time, an official at Gazprom Mezhregiongaz noted that gas supply shutdown is a last-ditch measure that is taken only when other means exhaust themselves. For instance, this happens when debtor companies ignore court verdicts or disrupt debt payment schedules, while the regional authorities fail to encourage debtors to pay off their debts. Thus, in the Moscow region, which reports the highest debt, the number of shutdowns is minimal as the regional authorities actively cooperate with the fuel supplier.
Public utility companies’ debts to Gazprom have been accumulated for several years. The chairman of Gazprom Board of Directors, Viktor Zubkov, said that in 2012 alone the Russian gas consumers’ debt snowballed by 47% to 143 billion rubles, of them approximately one third accounts for public utility companies.
What are Russians proud of?
Most Russians are proud of their country’s history, sports, culture and art, according to a recent survey of the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (WCIOM) published by RBC Daily. However, respondents say their well-being does not evoke any feeling of pride.
In reply to the question “Could you say you are proud of Russia’s history?” 85% of polled answered “most probably, yes.” To a similar question about sports 77% of respondents answered positively, 75% said they feel proud of their culture and art, 63% - of Russia’s army and military power, 60% - of science and scientists and another 50% of respondents - of Russia’s position on the international scene. Russia’s living standards make feel proud a mere 14% of those polled, while another 80% are not inclined to express such optimism.
WCIOM interviewed Russians using such formation of questions on what they are proud of for the first time. “These questions have not been asked before, although our previous surveys demonstrate that our compatriots most of all feel proud of the Russian history, literature and culture,” WCIOM communications director, Psy.D. Olga Kamenchuk said. “Living standards, well-being and everything the majority of the population includes into this notion (mainly, economic indicators - the inflation and unemployment rates, etc.) have always been our country’s top five problems irrespective of how the domestic economy feels, when a survey is conducted.