20th Century ‘Interred’ Russia’s Villages; 21st Will Kill Off Most of Its Smaller Cities, Limonov Says
November 23 – Despite all the talk of developing new agglomerations to drive
Russian innovation and growth, specialists on cities and regional development
say, Russia has only one real agglomeration now and is unlikely to develop even
a single additional one in the coming years.
reasons, as they pointed out at a meeting in Yekaterinburg this week are rooted
in demographic decline, the hypercentralization of the state, and the absence
of opportunity for cities and businesses to make their own choices or develop
the networks and infrastructure necessary for such places.
of talking about what will never be unless there are fundamental changes, they
say, Russians should be focusing on what they are about to lose. According to
Leonid Limonov of St. Petersburg’s Leontyev Center, of the roughly 1100 mid-sized
Russian cities in existence now, only about 150 are more or less flourishing.
The remainder are gradually dying.
the ones that are doing more or less well, the analyst says, are those which
are located close to major cities and industrial centers, near the border of
the country, or have “God-given” natural resources, not because of government
policy.Any city lacking at least one of
these is condemned to “a gradual but inexorable withering away.”
fact, Limonov says, just as the 20th century put the Russian village
in its grave, so “the 21st century will wipe from the face of the earth
‘useless’ settlements and small cities.” Russia will thus be returned to what
it was centuries ago, an enormous empty “plain” with only a tiny number of “hearths
Trunova, a specialist on spatial development at the Moscow Center for Strategic
Planning, is even more bleak. “Today,” she told the Yekaterinburg meeting, “there
are 145 million of us. Fifteen years from now, given technology, the raw
materials economy will need no more than 50 million.”
will drive what people may choose to call “the development of Russia,” not strategic
planning documents that have no positive real-world consequences but simply
bleed off resources into the hands of the elite as a result of the power
vertical’s preference for “giant projects” that most assuredly are a bridge to nowhere.