Who keeps Moscow's stadiums clean -- and how

A Novaya Gazeta reporter spent a day working with the Central Asian cleaners of Moscow's main stadium to find out how the city stays sparkling clean during the World Cup.

Daria Sukharchuk
Daria Sukharchuk NewsMavens, Central & Eastern Europe
Who keeps Moscow's stadiums clean -- and how - NewsMavens
1244017 Russia, Moscow. 09/22/2012 A regular streetcar route is launched from Lesnaya Street to Moscow Transport Engineering Institute. Vladimir Pesnya/SPUTNIK

Why this story matters:

The World Cup has brought thousands of football fans to Russia, changing the face of the city. It felt like a bright-colored summer festival, full of friendly people and spontaneous parties in the street. Everyone also noticed that the capital was very clean --  cleaner than usual. And many Moscow inhabitants noted that most of the cleaners there are young men from Central Asia. 

Alla Geraskina, a Novaya Gazeta reporter, spent a day with the cleaners and their managers, learning all about their long workday with only one short break to get food, and even more demanding hours on the days of the matches. The men still manage to talk to fans or take pictures with them -- and they keep track of who's scoring from outside the stadium. In their bright orange uniforms, cleaners are highly visible, but most people look right past them.

Geraskina's report is rather detached -- she is more interested in the World Cup angle than in the cleaners' everyday lives, and also most of her interviewees are too busy to talk at length. But it still is a useful reminder of the price of daily cleanliness in the Russian capital -- and in any other big city out there.

Details from the story:

  • Moscow hosts some of the major games of this World Cup, and many of them take place in the Luzhniky stadium -- the biggest and best-known in the city, where many concerts also take place.
  • Thousands of cleaners take care of the capital's streets every day, and Moscow has been remarkably clean for the last few years. The city outdid itself by keeping the areas around the stadiums, the fan zones, and the city center exceptionally clean during the World Cup
  • All of the city's cleaners are managed by one company. The"Zhilischnik" agency is a powerful organization closely affiliated with the city's authorities.
  • Almost all cleaners in Moscow are young men from Central Asia.
  • Many of them come from very poor areas with few employment opportunities and are ready to work for salaries below minimum wage.
  • This report does not talk about the salaries, but many reports suggest that they get about 15,000RUR per month. A studio apartment in Moscow costs 35,000/month, and the median salary in Russia is 30,000RUR per month.

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