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Newsagents’ kiosks in Moscow are cut off from electricity supply in the wake of sub-zero temperatures

Moscow press distribution is on the verge of yet another collapse. No, this time it is not about tearing down or sudden and compulsory redesign of the outlets. No, this roadblock was far more unexpected. In anticipation of a snowy winter, the city government has made an absolutely right decision to put all the cable lines underground. However, the press retailers must do that at their own expense – despite the fact that the industry is already on its last legs – and in a very short time. The officials did not specify how the press distribution business with its low profit margins should finance such a costly effort. There are testimonies of kiosks being cut off from electricity supply in some districts of Moscow…   


“The situation with electricity supply of newsagents’ locations on the outbound highways is catastrophic. The city has decided that all kiosks’ cable lines have to be buried under the ground. This is a very expensive task, involving permits and excavations. On top of that, the city represented by the government-owned corporation MOSSVET has already started to cut off the electricity to our retail outlets,” – one of the newspaper distributors said.

Faced with such hard terms, the press distributors sought the assistance of the city government by submitting an official petition to a number of industrial committees (see the text of the petition at PlanetaSMI.RU.) According to it, on October 17, 2014 one of the press retailers received a warrant from MOSSVET, demanding the overhead power lines located along the outbound highways to be dismantled. The warrant also stated the power cables must be laid “under the ground or id a different way, except for overhead.” The progress in implementation of these mandatory measures had to be reported to MOSSVET by October 28, 2014.

According to the press distributors’ petition, MOSSVET’s demands are hasty and may lead to a total collapse of retail press distribution in Moscow.

To begin with, it is impossible to dismantle all the overhead power cables and to replace them with underground ones, because of the bylaw on the excavation and ground works, adopted by the Moscow City Government Decree on December 7, 2004 and stating that permits for works conducted on City's thoroughfares can be issued only after being considered and approved by the Excavation Regulation Committee. Also, permits for excavations anywhere else are issued after consideration and approval by a district committee. Beside, the same bylaw introduces a number of restrictions on subsurface utility engineering, which requires drafting the plans and getting the regulatory approval and permits. All of that comes with substantial financial and time costs, neither of which press distributors have.

We'll see soon how the situation evolves and whether the periodicals will stay in the darkness until the government makes an adequate decision on newsagents' future. However, it is reasonable to ask: why this yet another demand was not put forward earlier, in spring or summer? Why the need to cut off the electricity supply to the mobile retail units just as the temperature drops below zero? And why the initiatives of Moscow officials seem so arbitrary at times?