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And I'll ask you to stay ...

A series of essays on the countrymen who have disappeared. Essay 2

And I'll ask you to stay ...
Photo: It's scary to remember: the Far East survived this way

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
So, in the mass departure of residents of the Far Eastern region of the beginning of the 90-ies, traditionally Are surprised not to. Yes, hundreds of thousands of Far Easterners, caught up by the storm of the collapse of the USSR, were spread across cities and villages of the seventh land, and beyond. But much more remains. The high authorities left. It always left. Departure almost the entire Soviet period was thought of simply as one of the stages of official career in the region. And not only bureaucratic. Left "invited experts with the preservation of the apartment at the former place of residence." But they were not perceived as permanent residents.

But far from all the workers of the closing defense plants, “unprofitable” housing and utilities enterprises and social workers left. There are even many officers of “optimized” military units. About seven and a half million people remain in place. At this moment, the region’s hidden labor redundancy becomes apparent. That's when the unique adventure begins. Moreover, not an individual adventure, but an entire region. As the doctor-professor said after the detour: Patients want to live. And medicine is powerless here.

The first period, the beginning of the 90s, brought about a massive "shuttle" movement. In neighboring China, they traveled for clothes, if not all, then very, very many. Former Komsomol members and former servicemen, teachers and doctors, workers and scientists rush into the "business". The reason is obvious: I want to eat very much. "Shopping centers", as well as the commercial suburbs, enliven the appearance of the Far Eastern cities. Especially in its southern part.

The north survived with fish flowing into Japanese and, a little later, Chinese ports, with unique natural resources. Didn't live very well. The northerners left, in general, 20-25 percent more active than the southerners. But the rest also somehow survived. Skilled workers of the disappearing military-industrial complex offer their services to repair everything and everyone. The experience of loaders and tutors, showmen and healers is acquired by a variety of, often unexpected people. Criminals are starting to supply "power services" (debt collection, guarantee of transactions, etc.), which the weakening state has ceased to provide. Customs officers and border guards, as poorly provided and laid off as all the other "siloviki", turned out to be quite "negotiable." A kind of total (regional) "free port" arose.

Gradually, much larger business entities emerged from this total business environment. The privatization of the “Soviet trophy” in the region had its own specifics. Defense-oriented industrial giants were of interest only in terms of further resale "in parts" (machines, buildings, premises, etc.). The new owners were not going to use them seriously. On the other hand, forest plots and fishing fleets, land funds, gold-bearing areas, transport, shopping centers, hotels, construction facilities, etc. were of much greater interest. Something that was somehow connected with the economy of the region and the possibilities of export to the countries of Northeast Asia turned out to be valuable.

The new owners also needed a new, legal “power operator”. "Bandits" are no longer satisfied with the new regional economy. At this stage, "power services" to regional business and not only businesses are provided by a completely legal and absolutely legitimate regional government. And although most of the interactions with the authorities in the region were based on informal principles, the principles themselves were generally understandable and effective. When today they say that this or that regional politician or businessman “was associated with criminals,” it should be understood that informal interactions at that moment were general. That is, it means that this person simply WAS and did something.

Without going into the controversy about the structure of the "economy of the roofs" or "the economy of the regional barons" of the second half of the 90-s, we note only that it was a farm that led the region, which was firmly tied to regional interests. For the first time, after a long Soviet period, major regional policy and economic leaders lived in the region, unable to leave it for any long time. Not burdened with tough laws, “accounting” and similar bureaucratic notions, they were tied to the region by a complex system of informal contracts (with government, customs, partners and employees), which only made their business profitable. It was necessary to negotiate "on the spot". This moment was noted by almost all the respondent entrepreneurs in a series of interviews collected by the author in 1998-99 in the course of working on the project “Changing the behavior of the economically active population in a crisis”.

But, living in the region, successful entrepreneurs and politicians were forced to invest in the development of social infrastructure. They built their own homes and roads to them, initiated the creation of the hospitality and entertainment industry. Just in order to be able to receive quality medical care, to teach their own children and grandchildren, they had to invest in education and healthcare. Gradually, by the end of the final decade of the twentieth century, the cities of the region acquire the features of cities, not settlements with factories, and regional capitals with the necessary gloss. A system of economy is being formed, at the forefront of which are local interests. Was it modern and efficient? No. She was simply regional, feeding the region and its inhabitants.

The rate of population outflow is decreasing. If during the first post-Soviet years almost a million people left, then at the turn of the century the annual outflow is already measured in hundreds and thousands. There is work here too. If in the mid-90s, according to mass polls conducted by the Far Eastern Institute of Socio-Political Research with the participation of the author, up to 70% of respondents noted their readiness to leave, then by the end of the 90s and at the beginning of the "zero" years this indicator decreased to 12-15 %.

It seemed that the region "threw off" the excess population, adapted the rest. And, finally, slowly, quickly, such things happen only in fairy tales and government programs, moving from survival to development. But it only seemed. By the middle of the “zero” years, the regional situation changed again. As the desire of the population to look for more hospitable places to stay. But about this my The following essay.
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