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Sobyanin sworn in as Moscow mayor, outlines plans for city

RIA Novosti

18:14 21/10/2010

MOSCOW, October 21 (RIA Novosti) - Sergei Sobyanin, former chief of staff to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, was sworn in on Thursday as Moscow mayor and outlined his plans for the Russian capital.

"I swear to faithfully and devotedly perform the duties, to serve the city's prosperity and the citizen's well-being," Sobyanin vowed during the ceremony, which was attended by President Dmitry Medvedev.

"The duties of the new mayor will be to not only avoid a decline in the standards that have been set but to increase the living standards of Muscovites and all those who come to live and work in our capital," Medvedev said. "This is a difficult task."

Sobyanin's appointment was approved by the Moscow City Duma earlier in the day, and he outlined his plans for the city of over 10 million at a city council meeting, emphasizing measures to tackle Moscow's infamous traffic jams, new standards in the construction sector and easing bureaucratic hurdles to life in the Russian capital.

Sorting out the traffic problems

"Around 300,000 more cars appear in Moscow every year; the average speed is getting slower and slower. There is a risk that one day the city will just grind to a halt," Sobyanin said.

He vowed to improve the capital's traffic infrastructure by constructing more junctions, parking lots and pedestrian crossings.

Sobyanin also said the lines of the Moscow metro should be extended so that the system can be used by commuters in neighboring towns.

Reforms to the construction sector

Sobyanin said that in 2011 he would introduce new construction standards meeting energy saving norms.

"Moscow needs new standards in the construction of residential housing and offices. The houses should not be designed according to the old standards," the newly approved mayor said.

However, he also stressed that new construction developments should not harm the capital's historic buildings.

Sobyanin criticized the location of the Moscow City International business center, a pet project of Luzhkov's, saying it had only served to increase Moscow's traffic problems, already among the world's worst.

"I think that Moscow City, built practically in the centre of the city, is a design error. But what is done is done," he said.

Tackling bureaucracy

Sobyanin promised to hold a total audit of administrative barriers at all levels of society in order to create "a modern investment climate."

"The main problems faced by small and medium-sized businesses are bureaucratic barriers," he said. "The investment climate will change completely if they are eradicated."

Repairing social structures

Sobyanin vowed to repair Moscow's ailing public and social infrastructure, calling the capital's public utilities "ineffective, non-transparent and corrupt."

He outlined the importance of attracting migrants to Moscow.

"It is necessary to attract migrants to Moscow, to avoid a labor shortage," Sobyanin said, adding that it was also important to ensure that there are also enough jobs for Muscovites.

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