Sunday, May 21, 2017

By 2035, a Third of All Russians Will Live in Moscow, Zuyev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 20 – By the mid-2030s, Sergey Zuyev, an urban specialist at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, says, “more than 30 percent” of Russia’s population will be concentrated in and around the capital,” Moscow, a development that can be either open new possibilities or create new tragedies for the city and the country as a whole.

            This outcome, the coordinator of the experts group for the development of a plan for the socio-economic development of Moscow, says not only reflects the growth in the population of Moscow by 4.5 million since 1991 but also the perhaps as many as 4 million more that demolishing the khrushchoby may make possible (

                Moscow already has a population density almost that of Hong Kong, something that is “neither good nor bad” in itself, he continues. That is because if there is sufficient infrastructure, it can stimulate “the development of new kinds of production and new economics” but if it reflects only the growth of housing within such infrastructure can lead to disaster.

            Most of the growth of Moscow since 1991 reflects immigration first by Russian speakers from non-Russian countries or from Russia east of the Urals, mostly of people will relatively high levels of education, and more recently by gastarbeiters from Central Asia, who have been increasing Moscow’s population over the last 15 years by 50-60,000 annually.

            “Moscow has one very big problem,” Zuyev says. “It is absolutely monocentric. In a very small area are concentrated all functions which make the city a city: administrative, political, cultural, touristic, and business. The issue here is not even in roads [and other forms of infrastructure] but in functional divisions.”

            There should appear “alternative centers of attraction for human, transportation, and financial-economic flows. This is an issue of a serious special policy in the framework of which the project of the renovation [of the five-storey khrushchoby] should be a part” rather than simply an isolated program as now.

            An agglomeration of the kind Moscow is becoming, Zuyev argues, “requires greater special flexibility than that provided by those administrative borders which formally exist now.” The Troitsk and New Moscow administrative districts are a good start, but they “don’t solve the problems.” A general strategy about housing, infrastructure, and new centers is needed.

            “Such major megalopolises like Moscow are world cities,” set apart from other cities. As a result, even now, Zuyev suggests, “the difference between Moscow and Mumbai or Los Angeles, on the one hand, is significantly less than between Moscow and Tula, on the other” (emphasis supplied).

            Unfortunately, he says, neither  Russia nor other countries have “adequate administrative mechanisms” to deal with such dominant cities on which the economic development of these countries depends not only within each of the cities but also between them and the increasingly depopulated countries surrounding them. 

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