Donetsk city council held an unusual and important meeting today during which deputies voted to double housing charges in one stroke. A council commission had proposed a threefold increase, but the mayor of Donetsk, Aleksandr Lukyanchenko, held out for a less punitive increase.
During the session deputies could not agree on the increases in tariffs, and the speaker called for a break during which 'Regionaly' held a meeting on their own. Eventually, Lukyanchenko's proposal to 'only' double tariffs was upheld by 50 deputies, 4 voted against, 2 abstained, and 6 did not vote. Out of a total of 81 deputies, only 61 turned up on the day. The city council comprises two fractions - PoR with 68 deputies, and 13 'Vitrenkovtsy'. Motions are normally carried with boring regularity almost unanimously, just as in 'the good old days'.
This is the second time this autumn that communal tariffs have been increased. From 1st October bus fares increased by one and a half times in Donetsk, and on the 4th October 'GorElektroTransport' also went up. Heating and hot water charges have almost doubled too. The leader of urban opposition, the chairman of the civic organization "Gromads'ka Rada" Aleksandr Kolchak, made several statements to representatives of the media about the local authority's extortion of the city's inhabitants.
"When the local authority is converted from the defenders of people and social partners to prison guards and tax collectors - they becomes a general evil, so it is completely possible that in the very near future, inhabitants themselves will terminate the authority of those whom they elected by mistake in 2006," said Kolchak.
Commenting to novosti journalists, the secretary of city council Nikolai Levchenko stated that, "Today any opposition between the council deputies arose around just small dispute, we had a discussion," and when asked about the legality of voting on the motion which took place three times, he claimed 'the reglament' had not been breached.
Representatives of the Nataliya Vitrenko bloc severely criticized the decision of their associates, and declared they will refer the matter to the procurator and a court of law in order to cancel today's decision. There had even been rumour that the "vitrenkovtsy" would block the speaker's platform preventing any vote taking place.
PoR's website announces to visitors today that 'In three months of work, the Min. of Finance has corrected the negative situation with the execution of the 2006 budget, which occurred during the first half of the current year.. The article is accompanied with this graph - maybe inappropriate in the light of the huge increases in housing and utility charges facing the citizens of most Ukrainian cities ..
ps some interesting photos on the novosti.dn link