Staunton, August 19 – In the name of development and national security, Moscow demographer Yury Krupnov has called for shifting the Russian capital from Moscow to somewhere east of the Urals as part of a much larger effort to “de-Muscovize” the country which he says is now at risk because of “hyper-centralization.”
Krupnov of the Moscow Institute of Demography, Migration and Regional Development has called of shifting the capital before as have others, but this time he has embedded that idea in a much more ramified system for “de-Muscovizing” Russia lest it fail to develop or lose control over portions of its territory (russian.rt.com/russia/news/420742-rossiya-stolica-ural-moskva).
He has presented these ideas in a paper on this to Vladimir Putin.
According to Krupnov, Russia is “’hyper-centralized’” with the Moscow region now having nearly a fifth of the country’s population and the other 15 to 25 largest urban agglomerations bringing the total in such concentrations to more than half of the total number of citizens in the country.
He argues that the continuing internal migration toward these centers may mean that Russia “cold lose its geopolitical advantages and even sovereignty over territories distant from the big cities.” More than that, concentrated in such center, “Russians will continue to lose the impulse of vital creativity.”
Already, Krupnov continues, Russians don’t want to increase the size of their families and are falling victim to the global plague of small families and thus withering away … We today on one-seventh of the earth’s surface live seven to ten times more densely than do the English or the Germans.”
To change this vector, he says, several things are needed. First of all, the capital should be shifted “beyond the Urals.” Then all small cities of the country should be joined together by air and water networks. And finally, Moscow must give priority to the Far East and Siberia in order to decentralize the country.
Cities should be restricted in size, and the country should move from megalopolises consisting of high-rises to smaller cities based on one and two-storey housing. That will allow Russians to develop and overcome their current demographic problems, something that will ultimately require building “thousands of new cities and the infrastructure linking them.”
There is little or no possibility that Krupnov’s ideas will be accepted, but one thing the current run-up to the presidential elections is doing is offering the possibility for many to offer grand plans for the future. Out of these may come some significant changes, although any move away from Moscow almost certainly won’t happen under Vladimir Putin.