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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grime War Hits the Courtyards

Litterers, late sleepers and slovens beware: Closing around you, at this very moment, is the dragnet of Operatsiya Dvor.

The city government, introducing a three-week crackdown which translates as Operation Yard, is legislating neatness in the city's 9,000 dvori, the inner courtyards where city dwellers leave their cars, their children and occasionally their trash.

A series of "raids" aiming to ferret out unshoveled and messy courtyards began Wednesday, said Gennady Klimov, a spokesman for the Administrative Technical Inspection Department, the agency responsible for controlling sanitary conditions on Moscow's streets.

And in the grand tradition of Moscow's city government, slovenliness will not go unpunished. An unshoveled courtyard will incur a fine of 6,000 rubles (about $1.50) per square meter of ground. For every unremoved container of trash, the responsible organization will be fined 40,000 rubles. Inspectors will also report abandoned cars, fallen trees, and cracked pavement.

As the second day of Operation Dvor came to a close, Klimov said preliminary results showed that 20 percent of the inspected territory was "not in compliance with winter maintenance regulations."

Muscovites interviewed agreed. Pointing out three overflowing dumpsters nearby, Irina Goshkova, 62, said it was about time the city took action, since conditions around her apartment have been deteriorating for five years.

"Someone should be punished for letting this happen," she said. "We give them money to clean this area. The big mystery is how they spend it."

Operation Dvor is only the latest salvo in Mayor Yury Luzhkov's war on grime.

In recent years, the city has levied fines for unwashed windows, muddy cars, unlit storefronts, sloppy construction sites, unsightly piles of dirt and undumped garbage.

About 70 percent of the courtyards in Moscow are in municipal housing, so the guilty party would be the local Repair and Exploitation Administration, or REU. These areas tend to be better maintained, said Klimov. Although the remaining 3,000 yards are still considered government property -- and so are subject to city investigation -- they fall under the auspices of private owners, whose budget problems and lack of organization often mean that maintenance falls through the cracks.

Other apartment dwellers said the quality of municipal service depends, more than anything, on the quality of the area's dvorniki -- the city-employed street cleaners who are entrusted with maintaining the apartments.

Lyuba Yakovleva, 54, said she had not lived in an apartment with a really clean courtyard since she was a little girl. "We had such a good dvornik in that house," she recalled. "There was never any trash. What a professional."