Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Mukhosransk, Russia’s ‘Third City,’ Dying So First Two Can Live, Provincial Blogger Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 23 – “In Russia, as is well known, there are three cities: Moscow, Petersburg, and Mukhosransk. People go to Moscow for a career and money. They go to Petersburg for culture and money. But they do not go to Mukhosransk: they flee it if they can” because there is nothing for them, Oksana Zabelina says.

            In a Snob.ru post, the provincial writer points out that this third city is “a failure,” even though it is the largest and most Russian,” with 85 percent of the urban population living in it and “trying to figure out what the capitals are creating. In all sense of the word, ‘creating’” (snob.ru/profile/31960/blog/151492).

            Everything in this third city is different from the situation in the first two.  All government decisions are made elsewhere, and officials only do what they can to enrich themselves with what Moscow and Petersburg give them, Zabelina says. Sometimes they simply disappear into prison or into Moscow.

            This third city doesn’t own any of the factories on its territory: ownership has passed to people in the first two cities, and they feel no sense of responsibility to “the aborigines.” When it suits the owners who keep their money abroad, they close the factories in the third city and make the situation there even worse.

            The third city has almost no banks of its own, and even when there are local banks, local people don’t make decisions about investments or the well-being of “the natives.”  It has few hospitals and often doesn’t have even basic medicines. Things people in the other two Russian cities take for granted simply don’t exist in the third.

            The streets of the third city aren’t taken care of. “Architecture in the third city long ago ceased to exist as did any plan for city development.” All such plans were sent to Moscow for approval and never came back or came back with no money to allow them to be realized.  Many things aren’t a problem because they simply don’t exist in the third city, except in museums or on television.

            “The native residents of the third city are varied,” Zabelina says. “They speak a different Russian” than do those in the other two cities.  At the same time, they still assert they are Russians. “They do not read in the metro and do not go to theaters.  Instead, they watch television and believe everything it says.”

            The residents of the third city are “politically passive and economically passive as well.” Those with any gumption have left for the other two cities. “And who remains? 120 million provincials who don’t earn anything and don’t need anything from life.”  They have come to terms with the fact that good medicine, theaters and museums are only in the other two cities.

            For the third city’s people, Moscow is “a black hole” that swallows all the resources of the third and “what does it give in exchange? Ineffective administration, a regional policy based on theft and a doubtful culture. Thank you very much.”

            Russia is “an enormous land living in two cities and standing on top of a third. And all of this is being done not by one president or even 100 oligarchs. This is being done by the hands of the residents of the capitals” who are all too ready to steal from the residents of the third city and close their eyes to what is happening to them. 

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