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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Wait to Hear Heartwarming Gurgle

Face it, it's getting cold.

Twenty-eight people have already frozen to death in Moscow since summer, and some Muscovites are still waiting with chattering teeth for that gurgling sound in the radiators that means the heating is on.

"There is still no heating in our apartment," said Maria, a pensioner who lives on Komsomolsky Prospekt.

"I am using electric heaters, but it is still cold, especially in the mornings," she said Monday.

But while Muscovites can rest assured that they will have warm apartments all winter, tens of thousands of people across the country are crossing their fingers that there won't be a repeat of last winter's heating crisis.

The government is scrambling to carry out orders by President Vladimir Putin to make sure that the regions have sufficient reserves to provide fuel for power stations. But they are already running behind schedule. An October deadline has been pushed forward to November.

Moscow city government officials say that heating will be on in all buildings by Wednesday. Places such as kindergartens and hospitals got heat at the start of October.

The heating situation is the same in thousands of other cities, meaning many residents in colder regions did not automatically got heat just because winter set in last week.

Following the energy crisis that that struck Far East and Eastern Siberia last winter, the preparation for this winter has been a top priority for the government.

In August, after repeated dressings down from President Vladimir Putin, the Cabinet allocated an additional $700 million to pay for a steady supply of warmth to residents.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday that the transfer of money for fuel was running behind schedule.

Only 42.7 percent of promised funds to Evenkia have been sent, while Chukotka, Kamchatka and Sakhalin have only received 69.75 percent, 75.5 percent and 51.8 percent, respectively. Primorye, which suffered a large-scale energy crisis last year, had 56 percent as of Thursday.

Supplies of coal, crude oil and diesel fuel remain dangerously low in some of the very regions that have faced energy crises in the past, according to the ministry.

The Far East regions have on average purchased and taken delivery of only 49 percent of the coal, 39 percent of the crude oil and 21 percent of the diesel fuel needed to survive the season.

In Primorye alone the figures are even lower, standing at 24 percent of needed coal, 62 percent of crude oil and 21 percent of diesel.

With the delays in mind, the government has extended the deadline for the country to be ready for winter to Nov. 1 for national power operator United Energy Systems and to Nov. 15 for the country's housing complex, Izvestia reported.

"Of course, it's typical that a lot of the planned shipments are being done at the last minute, but given the fact that none of those regions are terribly remote or hard to reach in the cold time of the year the situation should improve," an Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman said.

UES is expecting to receive a 3 billion ruble ($103 million) loan from the government to secure fuel supplies for power stations across the country -- particularly to power stations in the Far East and the regions of Ulyanovsk and Vologda.

Despite the government's efforts to avert a seasonal disaster, its work is being met with a degree of pessimism.

Residents in the Far Eastern town of Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka Peninsula had a close encounter with disaster last year. Electricity supplies were cut to just a few hours a day and heating was rarely on -- never mind that the outside temperature can fall to 15 degrees below zero.

"I and my wife often opt to live at our dacha instead of the apartment in the city center. At least in the country house we have a fireplace so it's warm," Alexander, a businessman, said by telephone from Petropavlovsk.

"It's really unpleasant when there are problems with energy supplies," he said. "When it comes on, everyone turns on heaters and cables start to burn."

"Anyway, you Muscovites will never understand our problems," he added with a sigh.