Thursday, March 26, 2020

‘Moscow on Its Way to Becoming Mumbai,’ New Research Shows

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 22 – In a relatively short time, ‘Moscow will become a Mumbai, a center with bright lights surrounded by slums which will operate according to their own criminal laws,” new research shows, according to Svobodnaya pressa commentator Aleksandr Sitnikov (

            “In essence,” he continues, “our capital city as a result of the egocentric tax policy of President Putin is repeating the fate of megalopolises of all developing countries which are in their own way ‘a tragic repetition of the worst aspects of mass urbanization which took place earlier in the West.”

            Sitnikov bases his conclusions on research conducted by L.E. Limonov and M.V. Nesen of St. Petersburg’s Leontyev Center and presented by them in a series of slides ( АНЦЭА_Л_Э_ Лимонов М_В_Несена.pdf) and in a new article, “Disparity of ‘Large’ and ‘Small’ Cities of Russia” in Russian, Zhurnal Novoy Ekonomicheskoy Assotsiatsii, 4(44) (2019): 187-216 at

            “Residents of the Russian Federation already for a long time have called Moscow another country, more precisely a metropolis for which the rest of Russia has all the marks of a colony. Inequality existed earlier, but under President Putin, it has reached absurd levels,” Sitnikov suggests.

            Now, after the business of constitutional amendments that will allow Putin to remain in power for life, this trend seems likely to get worse, with ever more money concentrated in the capital and ever less available to the millions of people who don’t live there but rather in Moscow’s “colonies.”

            At least some of the colonials will continue to want to move there, but those who already have are warning that what faces them as opposed to what those in the elite experience is anything but attractive.  Instead, they will be confined to slums at the edge of the city where conditions will be increasingly barbaric.

            Limonov and Nesen say that people from small and mid-sized cities will still want to come, not because the situation in Moscow is so attractive but because the situation in the places where they now live is becoming ever more dire.

            Sitnikov notes that in the 1960s, economic geographer John Friedman argued that “inequality is an inevitable characteristic of the social-economic development of countries.”  Some Western countries since then have sought to mitigate this by investment and tax policies. Other countries like Russia under Putin have done the reverse and exacerbated it.

            What he has done is build Moscow’s wealth by extracting via taxes and ownership profits earned by people working in small and mid-sized cities, Limonov and Nesen say, something that means the situation in the regions reflects the real economy while that in the capital reflects a distorted and wrong government approach.

            That means that “internal migrants, working even at the lowest paid jobs in the megalopolises all the same live much better than from where they have fled.” But that on arrival, they do not benefit from the bright lights of the center but are confined to slums on the periphery of the cities.

            And that in turn means, the two researchers say, that “after a certain time, Moscow will be converted into Mumbai with a bright center surrounded by slums in which their own criminal laws will function” and in which there will be an upsurge in crime, “above all connected with drugs and prostitution.”

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