What a campaign to revive Russia’s urban spaces means for civil society

SOVIET SQUARE in Voronezh no longer looks especially Soviet. Children dart through a dancing fountain. BMX bikers barrel across new tiles. Grassy groves play home to picnicking teens. “It’s practically Spain,” gushes a pensioner.

The newly reconstructed square is one piece of a sprawling campaign of blagoustroistvo, or urban improvement, spreading across Russia’s cities and towns. The trend began in Moscow, where city authorities have rebuilt hundreds of streets and public spaces since 2011, transforming the centre into an unrecognisable pedestrian paradise paved with plitka, the project’s distinctive tiles. Other World Cup host cities received more modest facelifts ahead of this summer’s tournament. The results have pleased the Kremlin. Last month President Vladimir Putin made his first appearance at the Moscow Urban Forum, extolling the importance of “a comfortable, friendly city atmosphere”. A broader national effort, launched in 2016-17, is…

Link to article: www.economist.com/news/europe/21747665-residents-are-actually-being-consulted-what-campaign-revive-russias-urban-spaces-means?fsrc=rss%7Ceur


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