Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu's initiative to build new cities is being discussed in Siberia. It might work out if Kremlin decides to go ahead with the plans to launch major investment projects in the region.
Shoigu earlier said that scientific and industrial centres for 300,000-500,000 people would give an impetus to the country’s new development beyond the Urals.
“We need three, or better, five of them,” Shoigu said. “With a population of 300,000-500,000, or better, up to a million people. The proposed locations for the cities, dubbed “shoigucities” by people, have already been chosen. Two industrial metallurgical centres might appear between Krasnoyarsk and Bratsk in the Baikal region. A coal-chemistry project could be implemented in Khakassia in southern Siberia, and two more locations are proposed in the Krasnoyarsk Territory around the towns of Kansk and Lesosibirsk where coal chemistry and timber processing could be developed.
“This is not just about building new settlements in the taiga, but this is precisely the development of Siberian macro-regions and the entire country,” said Shoigu.
Shoigu’s initiative has been already supported by Deputy Prime Minister Victoria Abramchenko. The Soviet experience is being reinterpreted on many fronts, including the accelerated development of Siberia and the Far East, where “there will be a garden city in four years.” For example, the Baikal-Amur Mainline which was made fun of during the perestroika years is being expanded. Construction of a railway to the Taimyr is being discussed again. The development of the Northern Sea Route is already underway. The idea of new clusters fits perfectly into this logic.
“This is a follow up of the Soviet-era projects to tap Siberia’s potential. It is the development of industrial, research and technological clusters in Russian regions,” Abramchenko said with confidence.
If one takes a good look at the map, it becomes clear that Shoigu did not name the locations for the new clusters randomly. For example, there are the closed administrative-territorial entity of Zelenogorsk and the town of Taishet between Krasnoyarsk and Bratsk. Zelenogorsk (Krasnoyarsk-45) will eventually accommodate a copper and nickel concentrate production facility. This is a project of the Intergeo holding to develop the Kingashsky deposit. It is also called “mini-Nornickel.” As wek.ru wrote earlier, a new aluminum smelter and a fired anode plant will be launched soon in Taishet.
In Soviet times, Kansk housed a number of important industries. There was a biochemical plant, which, of course, did not survive the reforms of the 1990s. Lesosibirsk is already the forest capital of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. All the largest logging and woodworking industries in the territory are located there. Segezha Group has a project to build a pulp and paper mill. The Krasnoyarsk Territory lost this type of production many years ago when the Yenisei pulp and paper mill was shut down and dismantled in Krasnoyarsk.
“A concept of a cluster of this kind is needed. We provide about 7.2 % of all Russian forest products accounting for about 1 % of global output. At the same time, the city has faced problems of population decline, lack of personnel, and deterioration of infrastructure. This project could solve them,” said Lesosibirsk Mayor Andrei Khokhryakov.
Besides, Khakassia is a relatively small region where coal mining, metallurgy and power-generation are well-developed.
Local experts believe that a “shoigucity” is likely to be located somewhere between Abakan and Minusinsk, on the border with the Krasnoyarsk Territory. “The ideas to transfer a number of capital city functions to new towns have been voiced for a long time. The large number of NATO bases on the borders of the European part of Russia is a serious argument in favour of this. Chances are the situation will only get worse with the development of hypersonic technology. Therefore, Defence Minister's proposal to distribute the capital's functions between several centres is quite reasonable. We see that the president noted its urgency as well. Experts of academic institutes are working on the proposal,” Evgeny Mamaev, a public activist and former chairman of All-Russia People’s Front in the Republic of Khakassia, told wek.ru