Sep 28, 2021
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Shoigu shock construction volunteers

Shoigu shock construction volunteers

Photo: Sergey Karpukhin / TASS

Analysts of Otkritie Bank conducted a sociological study on the readiness of Russians to move to the new cities of Siberia, which the head of the Russian Defense Ministry proposed to build there. Sergei Shoigu… 48% of survey participants were ready to change places.

Moreover, 7% of respondents in Russia on average and 16% of Siberians expressed their “unconditional readiness” to move. Another 41% are not against the move, but “under certain conditions.” Namely, if they are guaranteed a job and a salary two to three times higher than now (29% of respondents answered this way), “lifting” over one million rubles (12%), comfortable living conditions and developed urban infrastructure (11%).

At the same time, 51% of the participants in the study said they did not want to change their place of residence. Of these, 60% are Muscovites and Petersburgers, and 32% are Siberians.

People motivated their refusal by the too cold Siberian climate (44%), the inconvenient geographical location of the region (31%) and simply a lack of desire to part with their current place of residence (28%). In addition, one in five (20%) does not believe that moving will increase earnings.

In general, the idea of ​​building new cities in Siberia was positively assessed by 40% of the respondents. However, 27% reacted negatively to the project, considering it a waste of money.

Recall that in early August, at a meeting with the scientific community in the Novosibirsk Academgorodok, the Minister of Defense and the head of the Russian Geographical Society proposed to build in this part of the country three, and preferably five cities with a population of 300 thousand to a million people. Moreover, according to Shoigu’s idea, these should be “scientific and industrial centers”, each with its own specialization – power engineering, timber processing, petrochemistry.

The initiative immediately caused a lot of controversy. According to some, the construction of a city “from scratch” does not make sense – it is easier to improve the infrastructure and life in the already existing agglomerations. Others, referring to the famous saying Mikhail Lomonosov that “Russian power will grow in Siberia”, saw great prospects in the proposal.

To comment on the situation, taking into account the data of the opinion poll, “SP” asked Deputy Director of the Institute for Demographic Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, urbanist Vadim Bezverbny:

– According to foreign experience, we can say that Shoigu’s idea is quite feasible with very significant government spending. We know quite successful projects for the transfer of capitals. For example, in Kazakhstan, the main city of which used to be Alma-Ata, and now – Nursultan (former Astana), a city built in fact in the middle of the steppe from scratch.

But the amount of budgetary funds spent on all these ideas is so great that a natural question arises as to whether it is necessary to create new cities in our Asian part in the conditions of the rather difficult situation of the existing ones. I’m talking about Irkutsk and Omsk, as well as Khabarovsk and other cities in the Far East. The Jewish Autonomous Region with Birobidzhan, for example, is now in a very difficult situation – it is a depressed region.

This list can be continued for a very long time.

That is, there is no doubt about the feasibility of Shoigu’s initiative – it can be implemented. The question is in the price and volume of costs. Which, in my opinion, makes it impractical.

Second point. Against the background of the depression of many territories and cities, we see as a result the outflow of the population to Central Russia. Siberia and the Far East are just a separate entity here. But who, again, will go there to work in such numbers?

“SP”: – According to sociologists, there seem to be those who want to. But can these data be considered objective if a little over a thousand people participated in the survey?

“That is why I would not jump to conclusions. Moreover, then a reasonable question arises – why does not anyone from the European part go to the same Vladivostok, where there are industries that are experiencing a colossal staff deficit. Moreover, they are ready to offer quite substantial money – much higher than the average values ​​even in Moscow. I personally know entrepreneurs who are willing to pay one hundred and even two hundred thousand specialists in certain areas, but few are ready to go there.

That is, the idea itself is, however, non-trivial. However, in practice, there are doubts that in such a number people are really capable of making such a dramatic step in their lives. After all, we need to rely not on the rotational method of employment, but on the permanent population. And all of Siberia – about 25 million people.

For comparison: we already have more than 20 million in the Moscow region. It turns out that the asymmetry in development is very significant.

Perhaps, of course, new cities are just capable of solving this problem. But against the background of the fact that we have a significant number of even regional capitals in a very difficult situation – in a state of underfunding, in a state of very low quality of the urban environment and infrastructure – all this raises questions. Moreover, we are talking about three to five new cities at once.

Maybe it would be worth starting with one, if there is such a great desire. Look at the results, at the effects.

But, again, do not forget that it is necessary to support the already existing territories, which also need an influx of population, an influx of investments and attention from the federal authorities.

Director of the Institute of Contemporary State Development, political scientist Dmitry Solonnikov in turn believes that the idea of ​​new cities in Siberia should be treated from two sides:

– First, this is just an excuse to talk about United Russia, a pre-election speech that will be forgotten with the end of the elections. Shoigu made a bright speech, which, indeed, was in the top of the news for several weeks. And we began to discuss Sergei Kuzhugetovich as a person involved in state planning, and not just the Minister of Defense. With a controversial proposal, debatable, but that was the point – to provoke a discussion.

If he said “Let’s do energy saving and environmental protection”, no one would have noticed. Such performances are a dime a dozen. Shoigu said something new, so it was noticed.

That is, it was a really competent political technological campaign. But if it all comes down to this, then in the coming weeks we will forget about this performance.

The second point: behind this may lie the lobbying interests of large corporations that want to use billions (or rather trillions) of budget money for the development of infrastructure – the construction of roads, bridges, the construction of cities in the desert … etc. Their interest is also understandable. They do not care for what, the main thing is to get budget funding. And then find lobbyists who will carry out these projects. If they reached an agreement with the management of United Russia, why not? It is quite possible that in this way the money will be channeled, and the owners of these large corporations will receive the corresponding profits, the corresponding dividends. It is quite logical.

“SP”: – Do you think there is any real prospect for this initiative?

– If we talk about the real prospect, then, of course, no one will go to these cities in the current conditions. Because in order for people to change their current place of residence, as correctly indicated in the study, a salary is needed that is significantly higher than the average level for the region where people now live. That is, it should be a high level of salaries and, accordingly, a comfortable environment.

The first is the trillions of money that needs to be invested in creating this environment. Secondly, it is necessary to get a production where the profit will be such that it will be possible to afford salaries two to three times higher than they are now at similar industries in already existing cities in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk. Otherwise, it is not clear why go to the “Siberian desert” and not to Petersburg or Moscow.

What kind of production facilities with such efficiency and such profitability can be built from scratch in Siberia is a big question. But nobody answers it.

So far, we see several small successful projects, when a new city is created around a new production. But these are small towns.

There is, for example, in the Arctic the port of Sabetta with the village of the same name. North, difficult conditions, but huge profits, and there is an opportunity to pay big money. People go there. But these are not millions, not hundreds of thousands, but a couple of tens of thousands, at best, together with the service personnel living there.

The same city Tsiolkovsky near the Vostochny cosmodrome – a new project. And if the space industry in our country is not completely covered with a copper basin, then it will develop. People who want to do real space exploration will live there. Highly qualified specialists must be in demand and their salaries must be high.

But this is also a few thousand people, maybe tens of thousands, along with service personnel. Not more.

What kind of production can be invented, which will give profitability from scratch for the existence of one hundred thousand, half a million and million cities, remains a mystery. Not a single economist has spoken out on this so far.

“SP”: – Maybe it is cheaper to develop already built cities?

– Indeed, it is necessary to develop the cities that exist. With the millions that can be allocated, you can raise Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, you can finally make a metro in Omsk – it was built there for 20 years, and then filled up, because there is no money.

All cities in Siberia need investments. Hundreds of thousands of people already live there. Let’s help them somehow.

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