Kiev Residents Prepare to Face the Cold
Date: September 20, 2014
Location: Kiev, Ukraine
Residents of Ukraine are facing the danger of living in the cold during this coming winter. The threat of the gas supply being cut off brought panic among Kievians. The prices for electrical boilers jumped ten-fold due to the increase in demand.
Heating of dwellings depends on the supply (including from Russia) of the natural gas, which is used for heating and hot water. In view of the devaluation of the national currency, pension payment delay and lack of jobs, many families cannot afford another big expense.
This video was filmed in Solomenka, one of the old districts of Kyiv, a neighborhood with a low quality of life, inhabited mostly by working class, state workers and many retired. The district is dominated with the blocks of Khrushchev and Brezhnev from 60s and 70s with outdated infrastructure.
Obviously, the multi billion loans by World Bank and IMF provided to Ukraine at the EU taxpayers’ expense were not used for updating those infrastructure facilities.
A woman in her kitchen pours water into a pan, whilst holding her child and puts in on a gas hob to boil
A woman plays with a child near the electrical heater
A school building
A young man with a child standing on the steps of the entrance
A street road
Public transport in the street
A Ukrainian balcony
Façade of old multistory building with the gas pipes (yellow pipes installed externally)
Façade of old multistory building with a number of balconies
Big picture of the gas pipeline
Stickers on the wall of the building advertising house and flat insulation
Stickers advertising electrical boilers installation
A yellow gas pipe on the façade of the building, grates on the ground floor windows
An entrance of the residential apartment block painted in the colors of the national flag of Ukraine
Gas pipes on the façade of the residential buildings
Balconies with drying laundry and Ukrainian flags
A general plan of a residential apartment block
Kyiv woman with a child in her apartment
The woman has a decent apartment, however, heating, electricity and gas supply system is a standard one, shared with all other people residing at the apartment block. Current situation requires changes to enable electrical heating, however, current power allowance will not sustain simultaneous use of electric heating by the residents.
“At present, our family uses an electrical kettle or we heat the water on the gas hob. However, if we install the electric boiler we will have to pay significantly more for the electricity. It would be a big hit on the family budget. We cannot pay more that we pay now, says the woman.
Furthermore, when all the residents rely exclusively on electricity the system can get overloaded and not only will they be unable to use an electrical kettle, but electrical heaters either.”
A woman with a stroller in the street
The woman in the street is seriously considering spending winter out of town, where wood/coal heating is available and the electricity prices are one and a half times lower compared to those in the Capital. She mentions the price of the boiler being over 5,000 UAH, plus the cost of installation. This amount equals to her salary for two months or a retiree pension for half a year.
“Naturally, I am against gas and the hot water cut off. Maximum that we can do is to insulate our windows, exactly what we’ve done. I am not letting us get cold in the winter, we will fight the cold. We will either use the electric heaters or, maybe, we will have to leave the city and stay with relatives in the country. This would be possible if the winter break will be longer than usual. We certainly will get a boiler installed at home because we are a family of four.
Journalist: did you research already the availability and the price of boilers?
Last time we inquired about the price in the summer, when we were carrying out a refurbishment. It was expensive even then: around 5-6,000UAH. Scary to think how much they may cost now.”
A woman in the street
The woman in the street tells about the cooperation between the residents, that many make a joint decision to install gas and water meters and are trying to come up with the best financial solution. Many insulate windows and walls. Residents do not believe that gas storages can be filled in quantities sufficient for the winter. People do not trust authorities and the new mayor of Kyiv, world boxing champion, Vitaly Klichko.
“The fact that there is no hot water in the whole city is incredibly inconvenient, so what maintenance companies do to improve the situation? They blame the water supply authorities. The water supply authorities blame electricity suppliers. As for us, we have no idea who is really responsible. As a result there is not hot water, however the gas prices went up and we have to pay for both, the gas we use to heat the water and for the hot water we do not receive. As a result, we are paying twice. Our residents are very unhappy with that. We had to buy plenty of synthetic foam to insulate the walls. What else can we say? When it comes to the electrical heater, the energy consumption is not their main downside, rather drying the air and burning the oxygen are. Especially this is noticeable in connection with my little granddaughter, whose skinis getting very dry when the electric heaters are in use. I borrowed such a heater a few days ago and returned it. Do not want to use those.”
Two aged women, sitting on the bench.
Nevertheless, not all Ukrainians complain, many are prepared to face the hardship, as they understand that the country is at war. And living in cold is the lesser evil than being bombed by the Russian Army. That’s what the aged ladies are talking about sitting on the bench near the apartment block they live in.
“Cold winter is better than the war. Peace is the most important thing. One can survive the winter, but hot water and radiators will be of little use against shelling. That is it. If there is electricity one can turn the heater on, if not – we will have to rely on warm duvets, coats and hats. I want to stress once again: I am not afraid of the cold. But I am very much afraid of the war. I am afraid that they will shoot and we don’t know where to hide. We have nowhere to run. That’s why all we can do is sit here and wait.”