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May 28, 2003

Ungrounded accusations from the Moscow Government representatives

Lately, the Moscow Government has stepped up criticism against AO MOSENERGO. This time, a fire at Beskudnikovo transformer substation triggered the criticism. This fire forced the temporary electricity cut-off at a number of residential and industrial areas in northeast Moscow. The resulting damage was eliminated in the shortest time possible; however, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov used the incident to accuse AO MOSENERGO of "lack of order and unqualified management."

The Moscow Government has not objectively assessed the consequences of the fire. According to Sergei Tsoi, Moscow Government spokesman, as a result of the fire a "huge hospital no. 20 and the maternity clinic" remained without electric power. The truth is that though the power supply from AO MOSENERGO was discontinued, these facilities had local power generators that were used until the situation was redressed.

Mr. Tsoi's statement about "the stoppage of metro traffic between Babushkinskaya and Botanichesky Sad stations for up to 24 minutes" is not correct either. In fact, the power supply to all stations that were situated in the area of the incident was not interrupted for a single minute. AO MOSENERGO used back-up power supply systems in the circumstances.

The slowdown of metro traffic at the Taganskaya-Krasnopresnenskaya line on Friday morning was also blamed on AO MOSENERGO. Due to higher voltage signal lights the line went down. In these conditions, the trains had to move with minimal speed. As a result, many passengers arrived late to their destinations. The press service of the Moscow Metro blamed the whole incident on AO MOSENERGO. In reality, the voltage spike at Moscow metro was within the standard limits. The metro's personnel did not react in a timely fashion to the voltage increases and did not turn on the back-up system.

On May 25 the Moscow Government found another pretext to criticize AO MOSENERGO—a "fire" on the electric line at Nizhnyaa Maslovka 1. The company's dispatch was hastily blamed for hampering the extinguishing of the fire. In this case the Moscow Government has exaggerated the incident, which was caused by damage in the manifold of the feeder. The damage did lead to a small fire; however, the fire crews were called in accordance with safety rules. The power supply was not cut off, as back-up cable lines were used. The disconnection of the damaged line was carried out in strict compliance with fire-safety rules.

It may be expected that in the future the Moscow Government will use any technical breakdown (unavoidable due to the existing shortage of financing) as a way to discredit AO MOSENERGO. The Moscow Government has tried to gain political capital by speculating on the existing difficulties in the power sector, which, in retrospect, seems logical before the elections. However, we point out that such populism is turning into an obstacle in AO MOSENERGO's normal operations and may eventually hamper the reliable electricity and heat supply in the region.




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