A mass demolition of Russia’s iconic Krushchevka apartments will leave 2 million people with no choice about their next home. So why did so many approve it?

Moscow is enduring one of its periodic urban convulsions: plumes of dust fill the air, cranes proliferate across the skyline and the streets are soundtracked by pneumatic drills. In the city centre, new parks, infrastructure and freshly decorated historical monuments are the most visible signs of renewal. But there is another, less visible reconstruction programme going on – and one that is startling in its scale.

In June this year, the Moscow Duma unanimously approved the demolition of more than 4,000 apartment blocks in various sites across the sprawling city, home to nearly 2 million people. Most of this housing is privately owned, the consequence of the privatisation of state housing after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has been a highly controversial decision, bringing thousands of Muscovites into the streets in protest.

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