In reporting Potyaev’s argument, Regnum’s Aleksandr Deyneka points out that the Transbaikal is in worse shape that most other regions of the country. “There is no production at all, the standard of living is extremely low, there is no work, wages are small, and people are leaving the kray.” And that is in the cities.
In the villages, he continues, “the situation is still more difficult, people receive 4,000 to 5,000 rubles (60 to 70 US dollars) a month.” And consequently, they will try to move to other regions in order to get a larger pension and the possibility of earning more money by means of second jobs.
The Kremlin has adopted a variety of policies to get Russians to move to the Far East, and it will certainly be concerned that collateral damage from its pension plans will further undercut these largely unsuccessful efforts. But Moscow faces a Hobson’s choice: if it does what Siberians would like, other regions will make a similar argument.
If it doesn’t – and that is far and away the more likely outcome – then the numbers of Russians in the population beyond the Urals will sink still faster – and the ethnic balance will shift away from them in the direction of immigrant Chinese and gastarbeiters from Central Asia. And because of both these trends, regionalists are likely to win ever more support.