Monday, January 15, 2024

Sakha Historian Urges Putin to Move Russia’s Capital to Irkutsk

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 12 – Afanasiy Nikolayev, a Sakha historian, is urging Vladimir Putin to include in his re-election program a plank calling for moving the Russian capital from Moscow to Irkutsk, to help achieve many of the goals that the Kremlin leader has already outlined in his speeches.

            According to Nikolayev, shifting the capital from Moscow to Irkutsk would “ensure the balanced development of the European and Asian parts of Russia, provide for the security of the leadership of Russia, accelerate Russia’s socio-economic development by moving closer to the Asian Pacific region, and contribute to the development of the Eurasian Economic Union (

            In contrast to Moscow, he says in an open letter to Putin, “Irkutsk is close to the geographic center of Russia, Novosibirsk, and close to Lake Baikal, the largest source of fresh water on the planet. In addition, Irkutsk was not only the administrative center during the exploration of Siberia, the Far East and Russian America but also a center of legendary Tatary.”

            Putin is unlikely to take up this idea, but its appearance is a reminder of the ways in which residents of the Russian Federation can use the election campaign to bring to the attention not only of candidates for the presidency like Putin but for broader audiences of ideas that may take root in unexpected ways in the future. 


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