Staunton, September 12 – In the past, Moscow viewed many villages and small cities as being without a future, Boris Kagarlitsky says. Now, the central government is increasingly inclined “to write off major cities” and even entire regions. In the future, he suggests, the center may view the entire country beyond the ring road that way.
In comments to the Regnum news agency, the director of the Moscow Institute for Globalization and Social Movements says that conclusion is justified by the contents of the just-announced Strategy for the Spatial Development of the Russian Federation Up to 2025 (regnum.ru/news/economy/2480531.html).
The left-of-center Moscow commentator says that this strategy paper “does not include in the list of prospective major centers of economic growth” Arkhangelsk. That city is reduced in its pages to being only “an administrative center of a federal subject” and thus slated under the terms of that document to become ever less important to the country as a whole.
“The situation with regard to the Russian North is beginning to deteriorate in all directions,” Kagarlitsky says. “On the one hand, [government officials] say that the Arctic must be mastered because there are many valuable natural resources there that can help Russia as a whole develop.
But “on the other hand, there is no money for serious work in that direction; [and] even if there were, such funds are to be concentrated in a small number of places and growth points which by themselves will be insufficient in order to improve the situation not only of the regions generally but of those points themselves.”
Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is that this strategy paper will bring incomes to those who compiled it and then the report itself will be put on the shelf to be ignored completely from now on, Kagarlitsky says. But its basic thrust reflects Moscow’s views and these are hardly good for the regions or the country as a whole.
The Russian Far East provides a clear example of what he is talking about. Vladimir Putin is promising to make that region a growth leader, but his policies, as documented by Aleksandra Koshkina of Profile, are having the opposite effect, emptying the region of people, destroying the economy, and opening the way for the Chinese to come in (profile.ru/obsch/item/126790-tak-khorosho-azh-uekhat-khochetsya).
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