Ilsur Metshin: ‘All 180 billion rubles of taxes cannot stay in Kazan. But at least 50 could be left’
During a traditional meeting with journalists at the end of the year Ilsur Methsin agreed to give Realnoe Vremya online newspaper a short interview in which he, for instance, admitted errors in an experiment on QR codes in public transport that made noise nationwide. Also, the Kazan mayor frankly commented on New Wave music festival the city lost, urged people to wait for the divine resolution of the problem with the construction of the Cathedral Mosque, claimed Kazan was moving towards being a city without homeless animals, complained about the lack of financing of duties and expressed his opinion about other issues.
“We received a decision and followed it”
Kazan became the first city to do an experiment on the introduction of QR codes in public transport. It was an important step, but perhaps with overreach and mistakes in practice?
I agree. It could have been done differently. The republican coronavirus taskforce made a decision. We and you are like soldiers, we received an order from the staff. If every soldier starts to discuss orders... History doesn’t have such an example where it became possible to win a war. We received a decision and followed it. We learnt about what decision was made from you, from the mass media.
I agree that the execution of the decision didn’t depend on the republican taskforce, there were local mistakes, including in Kazan. And there were such errors that were corrected in the process.
The project of construction of the big Cathedral Mosque has been discussed for several years now. But the location is still unknown.
There are four sites, but there is not a decision yet (Editor’s note: in the area of Kyrlay Park, Riviera, instead of Millennium Park, New Tatar Settlement near the River Port were mentioned more often). It is our task. There is a desire to build a cathedral mosque, as a municipality together with the architectural community we provide location options. You know about these four sites. We are waiting for the decision to be made and fall... (raising his eyes to the sky).
There is a desire to build a cathedral mosque, as a municipality together with the architectural community we provide location options. You know about these four sites. We are waiting for the decision to be made and fall...
“Thank God, we weren’t given the New Wave”
We could also talk about the New Wave we lost.
What did we lose? We got the Kind Wave. I am happier about this than about the New Wave that wasn’t lost. Citizens of our neighbouring friendly Latvia lost it in Jurmala. While we wanted to catch up with this Wave across all rivers and lakes to Kazan. We collected 100,000 real signatures, with phone numbers, addresses, whatever. But another decision was made (Editor’s note: the festival moved to Sochi).
After that, together with Igor Krutoy implemented a project Kind Wave when having a tea during Kind Kazan. The fourth festival has been held this year, 5,000 competitors have been on the stage in the final, it is children with disabilities, mental issues. This is why, as people say, it is a blessing in disguise. This is a case in point. One door closes, turn around because another door has been open for a long time.
Thank God, we weren’t given the New Wave. I am happy because the New Wave is held for two weeks, our festival lasted for an hour in 11 cities — from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. The whole country is in. The feedback we receive, for me as a mayor, means much more.
I am sure we will become a city without homeless animals
“We are the first Russian city to lift this ‘barbell’”
A question about homeless animals. When and how can this problem be solved? Will owners be held accountable?
Do you think we want to take charge of everything? Yes, we do. As for homeless animals. We are the first Russian cit to raise this “barbell.” One can pretend as if there is no problem. But you will agree that the federal law doesn’t work. You said the key thing that people who adopt animals aren’t held accountable. They played with a kitten, puppy on the New Year night and leave it outdoors. It is a whole big problem. Now we are dealing with it at local level, thanks to colleagues who cover it.
There are two camps here. One says to shoot. Firstly, it is illegal. Secondly, it doesn’t correspond to those values that make humans different from animals. It is harder to cover the road we are taking. We are working with lawmakers who can bring this issue up in the State Duma. I am sure we will become a city without homeless animals. Nowadays, the measures taken in the last six months have given a result. Statistically, the number of visits with bites has decreased by 30%.
But if this road isn’t taken, nothing will happen. People say: ‘Why did he say there would be a metrobus to Rainbow Residential Complex? Why isn’t there anything?’ My dear, there aren’t transport corridors, blocks of flats need to be demolished, there is a first-category forest there, it is necessary to design, calculate it. Nowadays the opening of one route costs some 17 billion rubles. Okay, may I say nothing at all. I explain, and at this moment I ask our citizens for advice. Some say: ‘No, let’s build a metro here.’ We won’t build it there because this project is astronomic, not just expensive.
The same is with homeless animals. There are two sides of the coin. But you have said the key phrase: people’s attitude is irresponsible.
Imagine, you have three kids. The third one doesn’t have a school uniform, they go to school in rotation. This is how we live, all municipal Russia lives this way
“They could also think about money for all duties spelt out in Federal Law No. 131”
There is an issue of water supply, sewerage, there are much-discussed stormwater drainage system.
Water and sewerage, stormwater drainage, great. The Soviet Union dissolved. The enterprises Tochmash, Vacuummash, Kazankompressormash, Khiton, Tasma were the leaders of the sector. They went and abandoned social infrastructure. We take care of it.
The Ministry of Finance doesn’t give us money not because it doesn’t want or because it doesn’t love Kazan but because this is how it works. They cannot do this in Moscow... While we pull everything on our own like before New Year sometimes when you go shopping, buy a lot of things, there is a bag hanging on every finger, you walk and hope not to fall.
Your colleague asked about changes in the layout of public authority in municipalities. Instead of appointing and firing, they could also think about money for all duties spelt out in Federal Law No. 131. A third of our duties isn’t paid. Citizens fairly ask: ‘Don’t you see this?’ Imagine, you have three kids. The third one doesn’t have a school uniform, they go to school in rotation. This is how we live, all municipal Russia lives this way.
As for stormwater drainage. Of course, we see a problem. Again, I can say that we collect 180 billion rubles of taxes in Kazan, with all programmes 30 billion, sometimes 40 billion, come back. But the country is large. It needs to be protected, defended, this is why I understand that all 180 billion cannot stay in Kazan. But at least 50 could be left.
Of course, there is a problem. Your job, of course, is to keep this on the agenda and ask us. But believe me, as we solve these problems and sore points with the support of the Tatarstan president, the federals as other cities do, we certainly don’t feel ashamed. Everything is relative.
We collect 180 billion rubles of taxes in Kazan, with all programmes 30 billion, sometimes 40 billion, come back. But the country is large. It needs to be protected, defended, this is why I understand that all 180 billion cannot stay in Kazan. But at least 50 could be left
“I became an Olympic champion”
A Russian city mayor seems to be a dead-end development vector. Where to move further?
When I started playing hockey, I wanted to become a master like our stars. When children start doing sport, they follow champions’ example. I became an Olympic champion this year. I became the president of the United Cities and Local Governments, which has 240,000 members. It is a gorgeous opportunity to collect all the best practices for themselves, grow further. Something can be launched in Kazan, something will remain as knowledge. I continue growing, I am learning English, I speak Tatar. Thanks to my father-in-law, when our first son was born he made us speak Tatar with him. And my language woke up. Before age three when I went to the kindergarten, I knew only the word ‘mom’ in Russian.
I have room for growth. 15 years ago I couldn’t dream about chairing such an organisation. It is intangible growth. I also try to grow spiritually every day, fight with our drawbacks.
By the way, a couple of years ago you announced the creation of some Wikipedia for mayors. Is there any progress?
There is. How to deliver your practice to 240,000 municipalities? A Bogota mayor come to us on my request, he delivered a lecture for us. Now we are creating a website. It is a long story, it will appear in February or March. It will be on this website.
Finally, about crematory near Kazan. Why is it municipal? Will there be private investments?
There is federal legislation. A cemetery cannot be private, the same happens here. I asked directors of funeral services questions. Cremation isn’t our thing, there is soil. But it turns out there is big demand and even a serious necessity. A crematory on the public soil must also be public. There can be public and private partnership services inside.