Main page > Comments > Politics > The Far East must become the Near East

The Far East must become the Near East

Russia may lose its Far East if it fails to introduce urgent measures for its developmen. President Medvedev is concerned over the future status of Russia's eastern remote areas.

Recently President Medvedev made an unprecedented announcement. He said that Russia might lose its Far East if it fails to introduce urgent measures for the region's development. According to experts, that was an attempt to remind local businessmen and functionaries of the area' resources, and to warn that world competition rules that may threaten Russia's territorial integrity. In experts' opinion, in the future Russia's Far East may turn into Asia' raw material appendix.

At the recent meeting focused at the Kamchatka Area regional social and economic development, President Medvedev said, "If we do not work more actively, we are risking to lose everything... Sometimes even the most stable from the point of view of ordinary people things end in a most dramatic way". Here the President reminded the assembly of the collapse of the USSR. In his opinion, the aftereffects of inaction may occur rapidly, so " is necessary to take decisions, and not to hide behind other issues or seek for excuses".

So, last Tuesday during his visit to Chukotka the President opposed the idea of evacuating local residents to the mainland. When he met with Magadan Governor Nikolai Durov, the President said that the region's economic potential was built of blood and sweat of millions of compatriots, and noted, "We have no right to waste what we got with such a high price". Additionally, the President criticized federal authorities for the failed adoption of the long-term development strategy of the Far East and Transbailkal Areas.

During the session, Dmitry Kossak, head of the Ministry of Russia's Regions, promised to allocate some 57 mln rubles for the development of Kamchatka. However, authorities and experts have different views on the development of the Far East. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov believes that another feat like the one performed by explorer Sergey Vitte will only be able to resolve that issue. In Luzhkov's words, the Moscow government in cooperation with Rostechnologies have been re-equipping the Atlant Soyuz company's airplanes, so that the Russian internal airlines system be reinforced. Additionally, Moscow has been building residential houses in Vladivostok, and will extend such assistance in the future. Sergey Shoigu, Emergency Ministry head, suggested to employ methods of the old tsarist Russia to revive the Far East, including issuing interest-free loans to local residents, and release of men from the draft. Vice Premier Alexander Zhukov noted that the federal budget had just started to invest funds in the area development, so it would take some time to see results.

In fact, problems of the Far Eastern area are critical. According to Maxim Perov, head of the North-West Strategic Developments Center foundation, this territory has already been torn off from the rest of Russia, as in its activities it has to focus on big Asian business centers like Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo, importing 90% of its needs from Asia. Meanwhile, local transport tariffs and high energy fees do not allow to develop local businesses, especially from the SMB segment.

Withdrawal of population and its migration to other regions is one of the main problems in Russia's Far East. According to Rostislav Turovsky, Regional Research Agency General Director, when we say 'the Far East' we mean half of the country. Future expansion of foreign business may lead to the fact that de facto this area will be Russia's territory, but de jury it will be a raw material appendix of China and Japan.

Vyacheslav Glazychev, Chair of the Public Chamber for Regional Development, believes that primarily it is important to fight corruption, "Regional authorities have strangled local SBM companies, that is why they are increasingly fleeing to China".

Alexander Kynev, head of the regional department of the Information Policy Development Fund, insists that taking into account Russian's huge territory, it is urgent to resolve the communication issue, including transport tariffs, availability of railways, aviation and car transportation routes.

The state alone can cope with such problems. According to Konstantin Simonov from the National Energy Security Fund, "Private businesses will not make huge investments under current risks. For that, peoples mobilization equal to that one of Stalin's GULAG will be necessary, but our state is too slack, loose, and lotus-eater, and is afraid of accusations of dirigism at that. This is very strange for the biggest country in the world, 15% of which lives in Moscow".

Source: RBC Daily #182, September 26, 2008.

Bookmark and Share

Analytical series “The Political compass”:

Political power in Russia after presidential election
State Corporations in the Russian Economy
Political Results of 2007: Russia on the Eve of Power Shuffle
Political Landscape Ahead of the Parliamentary Election 2007
«Centers of influence» in the Russian politics

All reports for: 2009 , 2008 , 2007

Rambler's Top100
About us | Products | Comments | Services | Books | Conferences | Our clients | Price list | Site map | Contacts
Consulting services, political risks assessment on the Fuel & Energy Industry, concern of pilitical and economic Elite within the Oil-and-Gas sector.
National Energy Security Fund © 2007