Muscovites Protest Mayor Sobyanin’s ‘Tile Aggression’

"Put a stop to the tile aggression!" Source: Kasparov.ruAfter bearing witness to nearly two decades worth of corrupt business dealings under former Mayor Luzhkov, Muscovites have begun protesting a move by Mayor Sergei Sobyanin to repave the capital’s downtown streets with stone tiles – the exact type of business that his wife happens to own.

On June 22, a small group of protesters stood outside the Moscow mayor’s office holding posters reading “We had a beekeeper for a mayor and now we have a tile layer,” “put a stop to the tile aggression” and “Sobyanin! Enough digging around in the budget money!”

“There are serious grounds to suspect an element of corruption,” said Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, present at the protest. “Stones are being laid at a rapid pace, the quality is low, the stones are swelling up, some parts are collapsing.” He called for the work to be temporarily halted until an experiment could be carried out on the tiles.

Police initially tried to detain the protesters, but chose not to in the end.

At the end of this past February, Moscow Vice Mayor Pyotr Biryukov announced plans to tear up 4 million cubic meters of sidewalk pavement and replace it with stone tiles in 2011.

The Russian press explains the mayor’s interest in the project as connected with the fact that his wife, Irina Rubinchik, owns a stone tile business. Whether or not the stones being laid in Moscow were purchased from her company is unclear. But according to Novaya Gazeta, the entire center of Tyumen was laid with stone tiling while Sobyanin was governor of Tyumen Oblast between 2001 and 2005.