On 12 November, several dozen residents of the city of Khasavyurt in the east of the Russian Republic of Daghestan tried to break open the doors to the office of a local Gazprom subsidiary due to a lack of gas in their homes.
A video was posted on Facebook which shows a dozen or so people, mostly women, using a wooden bench as a battering ram in an attempt to break down the door to the Gazprom Mezhregiongaz Makhachkala branch in Khasavyurt.
Employees of the gas company hid behind the metal door, occasionally opening a small metal slot in order to shout at the women. The door held until riot police arrived.
Raisat Malikova, a resident of Khasavyurt, told OC Media that there has been little to no gas supplied to her since the beginning of October.
‘The cold has come, and we are freezing. We know that the gas networks are worn out and no one is doing anything about it’, she said.
According to Malikova, at the end of October they appealed to the Khasavyurt administration and blocked a nearby highway in protest.
But, she said. ‘They never paid attention to us’.
Meanwhile, Malikova said, affected residents were still expected to pay their gas bills, and that was the ‘last straw’.
There have reportedly been problems with other utilities as well. On 2 November, a number of homes in Khasavyurt had their electricity and gas turned off due to ‘heavy rainfall’.
Maryam Aminova, another Khasavyurt resident, told OC Media that, at the moment, over 500 residents in the districts of Yubilyeinyi, Sadovyi, and Novyi in Khasavyurt remain without gas and are unable to heat their homes.
According to Aminova, the Khasavyurt administration told aggrieved residents that the lack of gas delivery was the fault of Gazprom.
She said that the residents came to the company’s offices in person ‘since they no longer believe in the promises that the situation will be fixed’.
The press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Daghestan was the first to respond to the attempted break-in at the Gazprom office, calling the anger of the Khasavyurt residents ‘righteous’.
‘A dialogue between representatives of gas companies with a rightly indignant population is necessary’, a post on the ministry’s official Instagram account read. ‘They have the right to receive both: warmth in their homes in mid-November and the answer to the question why it is not there.’
A Daghestani Interior Ministry spokesperson told OC Media that administrative reports were drawn up on the two women who participated in the attack on the Gazprom office in Khasavyurt. After the incident, the two women were taken to the local police department and released shortly thereafter.
Gazprom Mezhregiongaz declined to give a detailed comment to OC Media about the incident, stating only that they were not responsible for the gas supply problems. They refused to comment on the gas bills which were allegedly issued to affected residents.
On 24 October, Gazprom Gas Distribution Daghestan, a separate entity from Gazprom Mezhregiongaz (both are subsidiaries of Gazprom, the latter controls the gas supply, while the former services gas infrastructure) reported that the reason for the problems with the gas supply in Khasavyurt and its suburbs was an unauthorised interruption of the gas supply by Daggaz, which owns and operates natural gas infrastructure in the city.
‘The summer rate’
A spokesperson for the Khasavyurt administration told OC Media that disruptions in the gas supply reported by residents occurred due to weak pressure in the gas distribution networks.
‘The reason is that the gas supply is at the summer rate’, the spokesperson said, adding that the Khasavyurt Administration ‘repeatedly contacted the gas company about the need to switch to the winter rate’.
Additionally, the spokesperson said that the city leadership had repeatedly met ‘the head of the gas distribution company and Daggaz, representatives of the Ministry of Emergencies of Daghestan, and the Civil Defense Department’ about the issue.
The Khasavyurt administration said that gas supplies would be suspended again from 13 November for repairs on the high pressure gas pipeline — which aim to address the issue.
Saygidpasha Umakhanov, the former mayor of Khasavyurt and current Minister of Industry and Energy of Daghestan, held a meeting with representatives of Gazprom Gas Distribution Daghestan and the Khasavyurt administration on 12 November.
During the meeting, he voiced dissatisfaction with the conditions of the gas pipelines in Khasavyurt and recommended that officials and gas workers carry out technical measures to restore the gas supply and prevent further restrictions on gas supplies to Khasavyurt within three weeks.