Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Russia, Lacking Transportation Net, ‘Only Nominally a Single Country,’ Orekh Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 27 – “A country which is not linked together by a transportation network is in fact not a single country,” Anton Orekh says; and that is what Russia now is, a place where it is far easier and less expensive to travel abroad than domestically and where the only thing linking the country together is Moscow television.

            In a blog post on Ekho Moskvy yesterday, the Russian commentator observes that he will be unlikely ever to have the chance to visit Vladivostok, at least at his own expense. There are ever fewer flights, and prices for those that remain have risen astronomically, far beyond the ability of most Russians to afford (echo.msk.ru/blog/oreh/1647270-echo/).

            Russians “don’t know what to do with such an enormous territory; they don’t understand how to administer or understand it,” he suggests. And the situation is only getting worse as it appears that all airlines except Aeroflot are going to die. At the very least, “no other firm can be certain about its future.”

            In Soviet times, the government put up signs saying “’Fly the Jets of Aeroflot’” as if someone had a chance. Now, a choice exists: “it is possible to fly abroad,” Orekh writes; and “it has turned out that it is cheaper to fly to Paris or even the US than to another city in one’s own country.

 Within Russia, however, things are very different. “In order to reach a neighboring city, one has to fly first to the capital and then from the capital to where he wants to go,” travelling “thousands of kilometers” out of his way. Moreover, “in the majority of cities, there is no normal airport.” In many, there isn’t a train station; and between them, there aren’t decent roads.

With the onset of winter, these various places nominally within the borders of the Russian Federation will be isolated from one another as if by an ocean, Orekh says.

Moscow is encouraging Russians to vacation within the country, and “who would be against that?”  But it may not be possible: “there is no normal infrastructure, no communications network, and no chances to expect help if God forbid something happens.”

            “In such circumstances,” he argues, “Russia is only nominally a single country, but in fact for a long time has been split into parts which exist autonomously but uninterruptedly receive valuable directives from the center where they even do not understand what the real requirements of the regions are.”

            Indeed, Orekh concludes, “the only thing which connects us all together on a firm basis is the television.”

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