What do outdoor toilets tell us about Russia?

According to data put out by the Russian Statistics Service 22.6 percent of Russian households aren't connected to a sewer system, most of them in rural areas. Russian commentators are divided about how vital an achievement modern toilets are.

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Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

You can't run a state without warm toilets

Radio Kommersant FM argues that sewer systems are essential to stop the rural exodus - and to stabilise the political system:

“The lack of urban-style toilets is the main reason why people leave their villages for the cities. First and foremost it's the young people, for whom living in the 21st century means at least enjoying the most basic comforts. Yes, things are improving, but not very fast. ... In some regions of Siberia and the far east the situation is appalling. It is said that as many as a million people leave the region every year. Hence the eternal question: where is our country headed? Will it continue to live without urban-style toilets while repeating the mantra 'We build missiles'? The bottom line is that it's hard to build a stable political system without sewers and warm toilets.”

Vedomosti (RU) /

Outdoor toilet is a piece of freedom

For Vedomosti, by contrast, the outdoor toilet is also a symbol of autonomy:

“Private homes everywhere have the possibility to build a standard toilet, except in the regions in the far north. But the lack of centralised sewer system is, particularly in villages and small towns, often a deliberate decision by the inhabitants - since being connected also entails monthly payments for this service. And ultimately it's not the availability of a warm 'city toilet' that matters: the habit of using the outdoor toilet is stronger. You enjoy a certain autonomy from the state - and for free.”