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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Luzhkov: City Is Ready for Winter

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov moved to ensured Muscovites on Tuesday that, come winter, they won’t be waking up to ice-cold floors and a lack of hot water.

"We are ready," Luzhkov said at the weekly City Council meeting. "And not less so than in years past. You could almost say that there’s been some improvement."

Officials said the city has thus far accumulated 425,000 tons of fuel oil and 537,000 tons of coal reserves, with 9.02 billion cubic meters of natural gas scheduled to be delivered in the final months of the year.

To prepare for winter, 1.17 billion rubles ($42.1 million) was allocated in the city budget, with an additional billion rubles available from the mayor’s reserve fund, said Nikolai Pavlov, head of the department for buildings and utilities maintenance.

All apartments in the city are to have their heat turned on by next Tuesday or Wednesday, after which heating for factories and other industrial organizations will begin, said Mikhail Lapir, head of Moscow’s energy department.

"[Companies] will receive their heat as long as they are current in their payments," Lapir said.

Most hospitals, schools and kindergartens had their heat turned on Monday.

It was not easy to achieve the fuel goals set earlier this year, city officials said. And most of these problems are due to energy users who chronically fail to pay what they owe the city’s utilities.

Alexander Remezov, chief of power utility Mosenergo, described his company’s financial position as "difficult and complex."

"We just don’t have the reserves that we had last year," Remezov said.

While the city has enough to heat all living quarters, there is still not enough supply for hallways and podyezdy, apartment building entranceways, Lapir said.

Currently, energy consumers owe Mosenergo 15.4 billion rubles. Mosenergo itself owes 15 billion rubles to its suppliers, which means that if everyone paid their bills, Mosenergo wouldn’t be wallowing in debt.

But the picture isn’t all that grim, Remezov said. In the last year, the amount owed to the utility decreased by about a billion rubles.

The Defense Ministry owes Mosenergo 1.8 billion rubles. Other major debtors are car manufacturer AZLK and the Serp i Molot machine-building plant.

To offset these liabilities, Remezov sent a request to City Hall earlier this year asking for a 30 percent increase in energy tariffs. The request was put off indefinitely — most likely because it would create a political firestorm.