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Moscow city officials took 789 days to ‘fix’ a broken street light. (In the end they just removed it.)

Meduza
Note to readers: Meduza correspondent Ivan Golunov was not involved in the writing of this article.

Once upon a time, Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov noticed that a street light not far from Vnukovo Airport had stopped working. Good Samaritan that he is, Golunov reported the outage on Moscow’s “My City” Web portal, where fellow citizens can notify local officials about problems in the area. Three weeks after Golunov submitted his report, the city responded and promised to repair the street light. So he waited. And then he waited some more. Seven-hundred, sixty-eight days later, Moscow officials finally acted, dismantling the street light and removing it completely.

Ivan Golunov / Meduza

Throughout this process, staff at “My City” stayed in touch with Golunov, cataloging their endeavors over the course of two years. What follows is a paraphrased retelling of this exciting correspondence.

Day 36

Oops. We don’t have personnel access to the electronic control room.

day 47

We’ve decided we might need to purchase the repair materials.

day 161

This purchase order is taking way longer than expected. We had no idea it would be like this. Our bad!

day 167

Phew! We got the materials! We’ll bring the street light back online just as soon as the repair schedule allows.

day 313

We did it! But we’re unable to get permission to turn the light back on.

day 369

We’ve encountered problems trying to obtain the documents needed to turn the street light back on. But never fear! We’re working on getting it back on before all the paperwork is finished.

day 551

You won’t believe this: the paperwork is done and we’re finally turning the street light on soon!

day 656

So it turns out there’s road work planned on this street, and we’ve decided … to remove the street light.

day 759

Holy hell — this isn’t even our street light! Someone remove it already!

day 789

We have deactivated your report about a malfunctioning street light. There is no longer any street light.

Moscow’s Construction Department did not respond to inquiries from Meduza.

Despite the two-year street-light saga, Ivan Golunov says he still believes Moscow’s “My City” online portal is an “effective tool” for reporting ice build-ups on the sidewalks and even lighting malfunctions in apartment buildings. “In this situation, the bureaucracy got off on the wrong foot and screwed up,” he wrote on Facebook.