Снос ларьков / Demolition of the Kiosks

Demolition of the Kiosks

Audio content: Multiple pedestrians briefly sharing their opinions on the demolition of Moscow kiosks.
Visual content: The demolition site and ongoing demolition work outside Metro Sokol

Link to video at Телеканал Дождь
(the video is currently accessible to non-subscribers)

One of the most-discussed events of the last week in Moscow was the “removal of the kiosks.” Small semi-permanent retail structures — tent markets, kiosks and small buildings — had been a fixture in the city since the 1990s. They were common around metro stations and other public transportation stops and sold newspapers, flowers, drinks and food, etc. The city administration had declared many of them “незаконные постройки” / “illegal structures” or “самострой” / “self-building” because they had never been properly permitted. City leaders expressed concern that these structures were hazardous, blocked access to public spaces, interfered with maintenance of city infrastructure and disfigured the city.  On the night of February 8th, about 100 of them were demolished in a coordinated action. (Apparently the owners of these retail spaces had been notified that their structures were considered illegal and needed to be dismantled, but the sudden nighttime bulldozing was a surprise.) In the video featured here, various pedestrians share their opinion on the event. The site is the metro station “Sokol” in the northwestern part of Moscow.

Russian Life published a blog post on this topic, from a very critical perspective.
Gazeta.ru has a great photo gallery with aerial perspectives that give an idea of the spaces involved.

Заметки о языке: Some common names for these small retail spaces are “ларёк” / “kiosk”, “торговая палатка” / “trading stall” or “торговый павильон” / “trading pavilion.” The verb used to describe the removal of these spaces is “сносить” / “remove, carry away,” a good transitive verb of motion, with the “с-” prefix indicating a movement down and away. The speakers express their opinions with the verbs “считать” / “to have an opinion” and “относиться” /” to relate to.” The full construction for the latter verb is “относиться к чему? как?” / “to relate to something in a certain way,” but, as is often the case in Russian, something that can be assumed from context is often omitted, so speakers say “я отношусь плохо” rather than “я отношусь к сносу ларьков плохо.”

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Click on the link to view the video in another window, follow along with the text below, and scroll down for the English translation.

Link to video at Телеканал Дождь
(the video is currently accessible to non-subscribers)

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Note to subscribers and visitors

Dear subscribers and visitors:

I was dismayed to realize that the video of the mortgage borrowers (the post from two weeks ago) was behind a paywall at телеканал Дождь. I’ve contacted them to try to work something out for the future. I would post the video files directly on my page, but I want to respect their copyright. Unlike Первый канал, Дождь doesn’t offer the option to embed their videos on my page. In the meantime, you can get ten days of free access if you click on the button “Бесплатно на 10 дней.” Or you could subscribe — it’s only about $6.00 / month, and they could use the support!

Ипотечники штурмуют банки / Mortgage Borrowers Storm the Banks

Russian language practice from the contemporary Russian media - mortgage borrowers

Audio content: Borrowers describe their difficult situations and engage in some fiery arguments with bankers.
Visual content: Upset borrowers, gathered outside banks and restaurants, with protest signs.

Link to video at телеканал Дождь

A few weeks ago I featured the protests of the truck drivers. Now we look at the protests of mortgage borrowers, one of the leading topics in last week’s news. The borrowers who have been storming the banks recently belong to a specific, relatively small and unfortunate category, the “валютные ипотечники,” i.e., those who took out a mortgage denominated in foreign currency, usually in dollars. The value of the ruble with respect to the dollar has plummeted in recent years, moving from about 32 rubles to the dollar in 2012-2013 to around 78 rubles per dollar today. (This sharp change, beginning in late 2014, was driven by factors such as the sanctions imposed upon Russia in the wake of the annexation of Crimea and the sharp fall in the price of oil worldwide.) Since most of these borrowers receive their salaries in rubles, the amount of money that they owe has in effect almost doubled and they can no longer keep up with payments. They are asking banks to restructure their loans by converting them to rubles at a more favorable rate, one closer to 40 rubles per dollar rather than today’s 78. Bankers — and, for the time being, Putin’s press secretary Dmitri Peskov — are reluctant to offer any blanket remedies. They suggest that the borrowers need to accept responsibility for the risky financial decisions they made. Some borrowers claim that the banks pressured them into accepting foreign-denominated loans for technical reasons related to the different interest rates charged for loans in different currencies. Banks have been contacting borrowers individually to make arrangements (or threats), but during the last week borrowers came together and occupied the lobbies of numerous different banks in Moscow and other Russian cities, demanding to speak to the management and receive a workable solution to their problem.

In the videos below we’ll hear from both the borrowers and the bankers. The tone of the segment grows progressively more passionate, moving from the matter-of-fact comments of the first featured speaker to a heated confrontation between a banker and several borrowers at the end of the segment.

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