Staunton, May 12 – Residents of 70 percent of the cities of the Russian Federation, both those that are classified as company towns whose basic industry has disappeared and others that are not, now feel that they face the choice to “either leave or die” because there are no prospects for work, according to Mariya Gunko, a geographer at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics.
Her conclusion, offered in a recent lecture (msses.ru/media/video/mariya-gunko-gorodskoe-szhatie-zamalchivaemaya-problema-planirovaniya/), has prompted the Seven by Seven regional news outlet to examine one such city, Kolpashevo in Tomsk Oblast, in a richly detailed and heavily illustrated 5700-word article (lr.semnasem.org/kolpashevo/).
Their conversations will residents of that once vibrant city far from civilization confirm Gunko’s findings and suggest that the forces that are usually assumed to be confined to company towns alone are now hitting an increasing share of Russia’s more than 1100 cities. To the extent they are, the dying out of much of Russia and the growth of its megalopolises isn’t going to stop.
And that in turn means that the current Russian government programs to help company towns are not only inadequate for those places but need to be extended to a large share of Russia’s small and mid-sized cities that have never been included in the category of “company towns.”