On top of that, they've passed some new laws specifically to accelerate this process, that skip some usual review stages before demolition, and curtail the ability of affected citizens to contest either the decision itself, or the amount of their compensation, in courts.
Simply put, as implemented, it's a blatant money grab. Many of these buildings are in areas where real estate is very expensive now, and their residents in many cases couldn't afford it if they were buying new; they own apartments there because they were living in them back in USSR, and could privatize them afterwards. Now these residents get kicked out, "compensated" with much cheaper apartments further away from downtown (and their jobs), while new expensive real estate development can be done in that place, and sold for full market price.
And it's a "soft authoritarian" system. Meaning that elections not only exist, they actually do count for something. Sure, there's still a lot of electoral fraud by the ruling party, to get higher percentages. But even without it, Putin would still be the elected president, and his party would still have the majority in the parliament.
So, for starters, people can start voting against politicians who pass laws like this.
1) The government controls the media, so it is really hard for an honest reformer to get his message across to the public.
2) If a reform politician starts to really get somewhere, the government throws him in jail or has a bullet put through his head.
1. a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.
2. (often initial capital letter) a system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.
In what ways is current Russia different than the second case? From what I understand Putin's party fits much of this description. I'm not being argumentative, I appreciate your insight.
I generally feel that taking a definition from a dictionary dominated with post war US propaganda terminology, might not be the best way to hold a constructive conversation regarding communism.
Just because I can't resist if you are curious, try to read about how Marxists proposed to implement communism, and what sort of pre-requisites they envisioned in order for a transition to be successful, versus how it was implemented in existing societies.
National-socialists had one, too. I'd say it's pretty upfront about what they really were about:
Any modern form of Communism must have some link to the theories of Marx and Engels. Putin's Russia has no such thing, it's a simple oligarchy led by a semi-formalized dictator for life. See also: Gaddafi, Pinochet, Batista, Mugabe etc etc etc.
Another interesting point that the article doesn't bring up is that "khruschevka" apartments are not just limited to ex-Soviet countries - you can find them in other ex-Soviet allies, most unexpectedly in Cuba!
The advantage for me was that I always knew where the bathroom was, even if I didn't speak the language. Rather than my usual act of disappearing into a cupboard...
It's not five stories, though.
If you're from Russia you probably get the reference, for everybody else:
Absolutely and strongly concur. USian housing is a complete shitshow, between the government's disinvestment from any sort of public/social housing and the existence of zoning laws (and other land use restrictions) that make any sort of high-density housing extremely difficult to build.
For many people in US (especially those who are poor or elderly or disabled or working-class) a unit in one of those "khruschevka" would alas be an upgrade.
Probably built in an area where you have to commute by car, though, so eliminating or reducing the car-owned space to make it more walkable, attractive, and human-friendly is likely not feasible. Which means you'll also have to drive to shop, and, and, and... further driving things apart with more parking, driving surface, and buffers for cars, and removing all other options as they become impossible (walking, biking) or impractically slow/expensive (buses, trains) due to low density. Same disease most of the US has.
Kinda looks like hotel/condo developments along the US East and Gulf coasts, actually.
A large reason why planners leave open spaces around tall buildings are for environmental reasons like shadow impact, and wind tunneling. Without the open space, the canyoning effect would be much worse--look at most financial district areas. So the taller the building, the more open space required.
If you've been to Berlin, I think their altbaus strike a fine balance between housing a lot of people while still maintaining good street life. The flip-side is that Berlin's streets are generally wider than most other cities.
I say this after having lived there, in several other places and by being an architect. e.g. Is Australian / US low income housing better than Soviet?
So as somebody who lives in London, explain to me why Los Angeles always looks so featureless, so lacking in any kind of urban identity I'd expect to find in a city?
It always looks to me no so much as a city, but rather merely some buildings that are connected by freeways.  
I ask because the Chinese in recent decades seem to have decided that letting Westerners steal their cultural treasures was undesirable, but there doesn't seem to be huge government support for preservation either (yet?). This based on what I saw at the Great Wall.
Then there's the whole thing about suppressing the bits that are hard to whitewash. There are a bunch of laws currently in force that ban "denial of facts established by the ruling of the International Military Tribunal, approval of crimes, established by that ruling, as well as dissemination of knowingly false information about actions of the USSR in WW2 period". That last bit is the catch-all that can be used to censor pretty much any opinion not in line with official propaganda. Here's the law in question (in Russian):
For example, last year, a man was convicted and fined for sharing an article about Soviet occupation of Poland on his social media feed, because said article stated that USSR attacked Poland jointly with Germany, and therefore both countries bear equal responsibility for starting WW2. This was deemed as "contrary to the findings of the IMT" by the court (which is true, since any such questions related to Poland were effectively sidestepped under Soviet pressure). Here's the article in question (in Russian):
Many of the major attractions in St. Petersburg and the surrounding areas are historical and were rebuilt after the siege of Leningrad, though at great pain due to difficulty in raising funds to do the restorations. The city thrives on the more world renown cultural heritage (ballets for example), and many of the old soviet performers are still draw huge crowds and fill arenas/auditoriums. Many older Russians I've met look very fondly back at the USSR; younger generations have a mixed attitude, many just echoing their parents' sentiments, others enjoying modern Russia.
As far as preservation goes, I think it depends on just how crappy it is. There's a few buildings downtown in St. Petersburg that are the last few that were directly involved in the Siege of Leningrad (remnants of former buildings) and there is discussion on what to do with them - knock'em down and replace or restore as a historical site. It's prime area and the buildings weren't of any importance, but at the same time, the history of WW2 is just really tightly woven into pretty much everything, so there is some deadlock on what to do. Much of SPB was rebuilt to "it's former glory" after the siege so there is interest in restoring what was lost. But it also hasn't stopped gigantic shopping malls from being installed downtown in these spaces, with the exterior of course matching the surrounding architecture.
Many older Russians I've met look very fondly
back at the USSR; younger generations have a
mixed attitude, many just echoing their
parents' sentiments, others enjoying modern
We (partner and I) haven't pressed much into how much she actually knows about what was happening politically, but that's the perspective that a lot of other older folk echo. The few older people I have seen pressed on it usually just get stubborn about the bad parts of the USSR and don't want to talk about it.
This seems to be the main point rather than democracy being hard to comprehend or inefficient.
Looks like they're beginning to rewrite it. "Russian state is 1000-years old", "Russia singlehandedly won WW2" and so on.
Combined with "Westerners are evil" rhetoric it helps keep population under control.
> letting Westerners steal their cultural treasures
I cannot see where this comes from. Is there any stealing at all?... The movie Great Wall uses Great Wall in a way that is trade-mark hollywood, i.e., purely symbolic, none of cultural connection at all. The story of Great Wall can be made on almost any world famous building/artifact... If that counts a steal, then hollywood cannot make anything not stealing...
I'd put it on par with a small town's local museum. Maybe the expectation was that people would go to the larger museums downtown, but it seemed surprisingly undersized and thrown together for a large tourist site on a pretty amazing object of historical significance.
There is a lot of new development going on here as well, but when it costs €80k+ for a 40sqm studio it's unaffordable for most people (minimum wage is €380/mo). New developments usually have underground parking which is a plus, but developers are often selling the spaces at over €10k. It's a good time to be a developer here :D
Wide ranges of age in apartment stock allow for more than one group to live in the same place. For the elderly or the young who have no accumulated wealth, crappy buildings like this can be wonderful. Not every apartment needs to be something a doctor or lawyer would be happy to live in. Plus, if you can get those different demographics living close to one another, you get the huge benefits of varied patterns of life, where people are around during the day and not all trying to use infrastructure and retail only during peak times.
The fact that this is happening mostly in Moscow hints at what others have suggested this is: a new development money grab for land that has become expensive...
(I'm typing this from a "temporary" building that was supposed to be demolished "in the next few years" since the 1960s)