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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Suspends Increase In Household Energy Prices

The Moscow city government has suspended an increase in energy prices for households, delaying the move until the City Duma passes comprehensive housing reform legislation, the chairman of the Moscow City Duma said Tuesday.

The decision was announced following a meeting Tuesday between City Duma representatives and Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. The mayor has been a strong critic of federal government moves to end subsidies to domestic energy consumers.

The city raised prices by up to 20 percent for electric power, heat and hot water from Nov. 1. But the Moscow City Duma, the city's legislature, which faces an election next month, asked the city to suspend the price increase.

Yury Roslyak, director of the city's department of economic policy and development, said the legislative and executive branches wanted a common approach "on every step of housing reform," Interfax reported.

Vladimir Platonov, chairman of the City Duma, said the Duma could pass a bill on housing reform as soon as the middle of December, paving the way for a rise in prices.

But Platonov said city officials and deputies had agreed that energy prices should rise only if citizens' incomes do too, Interfax reported.

"There are people that can pay 100 percent of their energy bill, and there are people that can't pay their bill at all. This needs to be thought out so that every person can pay," Platonov said.

Elections for the City Duma will be held Dec. 14, although deputies retain their seats until the new Duma convenes. Platonov denied that the decision to suspend the price increase was politically motivated to help deputies in the elections.

"This is clearly an economic issue," he said. "Now we will discuss laws on housing reform, but the decision [to temporarily halt price increases] is not connected with elections."