Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Video of ‘Ryazan on Mars’ Only Highlights Problems of Ryazan Here on Earth, Degtyanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 22 – A new video featuring an imagined Ryazan outpost on Mars has provoked a very different and far more negative response than those who produced it hoped for, raising questions not only about what the real future holds but also about Moscow’s extensive rather than intensive approach to development, Andrey Degtyanov says.

            Instead of inspiring residents of Ryazan to imagine themselves in such a “cosmic” future, the regionalist says, images of future residents of Mars decorated with Ryazan motifs only highlights the fact that Moscow may keep the trappings of regions but is prepared to let current ones die and replace them with something that only appears similar.

            As a result, Degtyanov says, the video clip, which has been viewed by more than two million people and praised by Roskosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin, has only highlighted the problems residents of the region near Moscow now face and the near certainty that the center will do nothing to address them (

            And consequently, this film designed to inspire is infuriating them, yet another case like the film “The Man from Fifth Avenue” which was supposed to have Soviet citizens focus on the travails of a street person in New York but instead had them looking at the full windows in that American city at a time when shelves in stores in the USSR were empty.

            The robots shown in the new video are beautifully done and feature various Ryazan-related motifs, and the imagery of the Mars landscape looks almost exactly like much of the territory in and around Ryazan. But this positive image of the future stands in “diametric opposition” to the reality of the present-day federal subject.

            “The rural backwoods in the region is rapidly dying out. Over the last 30 years, the population in some villages has fallen to zero. Almost have of the residents of the oblast (more than a half million out of 1.1 million) now live in Ryazan itself, which has already swallowed up neighboring settlements,” Degtyanov says.

            And the oblast center has not become the final goal of those moving out of the villages but only a stepping stone to their moving out of the region altogether to big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg or even beyond the current borders of the Russian Federation. Ryazan as a reality is being allowed to die, and Moscow is quite ready to replace it with something else.

            That is the unintended message of the video clip, the regionalist writer says. If one Ryazan is dying, there is no need to try to save it, the authorities are suggesting. Instead, it should simply be replaced with another one, perhaps with a few reminders of the past but without the continuity community requires.

            Russians beyond the ring road have long felt that this is Moscow’s modus operandi, absorb and use up a region and then move on to another rather than developing the region for the benefit of its people and the country as a whole. Moscow’s destruction of democratic institutions at the regional level limits their ability to resist that approach.

            But it does nothing, Degtyanov suggests, to limit their anger. And efforts to prettify the situation as with this unfortunate video clip will only exacerbate that still further. 


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