July-September 2016 #3 (15)
It happened a little over twenty years ago. At the time, I was working for the international department at a newspaper in Moscow. I was asked to interview some big chief from the Moscow police force, who had just come back from a work trip during which he visited and talked with colleagues in Toronto. I remember how excited he was to tell me about how professional and efficient the Canadian police force was. But more than anything else, I was struck by a sudden confession the chief made: “When I was in Toronto, I felt safer walking outside than I do on the streets of Moscow.”
The nineties were here - a period of time during which violent crime in Russia skyrocketed. When I passed on the interview to the editor, I thought for sure that they would take this part of the interview out. But they left it in. We had just started glasnost and perestorika. We were discovering the world, and were opening ourselves up to new ideas as well.
A lot has changed since then and, unfortunately, not all of these changes were for the best. The world has certainly not become any safer. Is there any place left on Earth where a person can feel completely safe today?
Be that as it may, the Moscow government is doing everything in its power to ensure that Muscovites and the foreigners who come here for work or travel do not fear for their safety. It is no surprise that during one of the government meetings, Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin said that it is not only important to make improvements to public spaces and create comfortable areas, but also to ensure that these areas are safe.
For four years, the city has been successfully implementing the state program “Safe City,” which will last through 2018. According to official data, the number of homicides and homicide attempts has decreased by
21 percent since the program was introduced, the number of robberies and vehicle hijacking incidents dropped by 32 percent and the number of apartment burglaries has decreased by 30 percent. Right now, for example, there are over 140,000 video surveillance cameras operating in Moscow, including in residential buildings, courtyards, schools, public areas, roads and retail outlets. These video surveillance cameras are used to record and investigate 70 percent of violations and crimes committed in the Russian capital.
However, safety is a relative concept. It includes not only personal safety and digital security, but also health security and infrastructure. The Moscow authorities understand this completely. For example, for the first time in several years, according to research carried out by the Dutch company TomTom, Moscow moved from first to fourth place (after Istanbul, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro) in terms of traffic congestion. This, of course, is not an enormous accomplishment, but it does indicate a positive trend. The authorities are working to resolve the city’s transportation problem, constantly building new roads, highways, tunnels, bridges and pedestrian areas. And this is the case with everything. Moscow is truly becoming a better place to live every year - cleaner, more convenient and safer for residents and business.
Editor in Chief
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