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Khabarovsk and Vladivostok: two cities, two regions - one destiny

Leonid Blyakher on the rivalry between Khabarovsk and Vladivostok - the Far Eastern capitals connected by Transsib

Khabarovsk and Vladivostok: two cities, two regions - one destiny

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
Hundreds of texts have already been written about the eternal competition between the two centers of the Far Eastern region. Indeed, Khabarovsk is arguing with Vladivostok for leadership in various fields from transport to education, from music to cinema. The differences are obvious. Vladivostok is a port city, military and, at the same time, incredibly lively, adventurous, ready for the most unexpected and risky adventures. A city located in space not only in the distance and breadth, but also ... vertically. Here, it seems that even machines will soon learn to rock climbing. Khabarovsk, on the contrary, is a city, although it is also a military one, but decorous and well-meaning, merchant and bureaucratic. In Vladivostok, as in the whole country, there are also quite a few officials. But here they seem, rather, entrepreneurs, managers of their "enterprises", rather than sovereign people. In Khabarovsk, not only entrepreneurs, but also journalists, musicians and teachers are incredibly similar to big and small officials. Different cities. Very different and, at the same time, incredibly similar.

They arose at about the same time - in the middle of the 90th century, when, according to the Aigun Treaty, Russia annexed the Amur and Primorye regions. Cities were built, first of all, as fortresses, military centers, from where the territory could be controlled. True, Khabarovsk already in the XNUMXs became the center of the general-governorship, and Vladivostok continues to be the main sea fortress in the Pacific Ocean. But the similarities don't fade.

Both cities are located on the Trans-Siberian Railway, which to this day remains the main thread connecting the Far East with European Russia. True, Khabarovsk is an important one, but only one of the junction stations, and in Vladivostok Transsib ends. And there, and there is a port. True, if the whole city breathes in Vladivostok, in Khabarovsk it is only one of the urban enterprises. Both in Khabarovsk and Vladivostok there are giant bridges, which for their time are considered to be one of the peaks of technical thought. But bridges to match the city, each in its own way. Huge and at the same time air bridges in the city near the Ocean and a massive and solid, for centuries, bridge across the Amur near Khabarovsk. Similar and the rest of the historical buildings. Although there are differences too. There is a common and in relief: the hills of the center of Khabarovsk and Vladivostok, escaping ledges along the spurs of the mountains to their embankments. So, similar or different?

Probably, all the same similar. Than? I think the most important is the Far East. An excellent and mysterious region. The place where the richest land and not the richest people. A place where breathtaking, from the beauty of the boundless plains, clouded by the haze of the mists of the hills, Amur's greatness and the boundlessness of the ocean's expanses. A place where, for some reason, the powers that be have thought and are thinking about anything, not that the people of the region are comfortable living. A place where a trip to China is an ordinary event, and a trip to Belarus is an adventure. Strange, very strange place - our Far East. About this strange place, the fate of its capitals, its future and I would like to speculate.

The main thing, it seems to me, the strangeness of our beautiful land is that in the very short post-Soviet decades, incredible changes in speed have taken place here. The military-industrial complex, on which the regional economy was built from the distant 30s of the twentieth century, collapsed. The star of the commodity industries has risen. Timber, fish, metals, beans and grain gradually replaced tanks and submarines, ships and aircraft. Road construction has increased significantly, by orders of magnitude. Bridges and tunnels, junctions and highways, city, regional, federal. Yes, the roads are still far from perfect. But until recently, they simply did not exist. The airport in Khabarovsk was completely renovated in the 90s and, more recently, a handsome hub in Vladivostok. The Transsib and the Northern Sea Route received a "second wind".

There appeared something about the existence of which they had already begun to forget during the long Soviet period - private entrepreneurship, which generated dozens of new stores and restaurants, cafes and entertainment centers, private hospitals and kindergartens. And, as a crown of renewal, it is a gigantic, to the envy of the whole world, the FEFU campus on Russian Island, more reminiscent of a five-star hotel than a university.

In less than three decades, the region has experienced a change in the number of rulers and political structures, which in a more peaceful place or in a more peaceful time would not be enough for one century. Not life, but a kaleidoscope of economic, political and economic forms that replace one another.

But, strangely enough, in conversations on the street and in transport, in the grumbling of grandmothers at the entrance and journalists in the corridors of publications, the same theme constantly arises: Well, nothing changes! Everything, as it was, remains !!! What is this "all" that does not change, despite constant and, often, radical changes? Let's figure it out.

Let's start with the obvious, that it really doesn't change. The first and, probably, the most unpleasant thing is the tariffs. This disaster has made life difficult for everyone in the region for many decades. Huge energy tariffs make both production and life in the region "golden". It would seem that there are two huge hydroelectric power plants on the Zeya and Bureya. Significant capacities in Primorye. New and new investments in the energy sector of the region. But ... things are still there. Tariffs continue to struggle with the competitiveness of Far Eastern products. Darling she goes out. That is, of course, they buy raw materials. But the products of its processing, sorry. Expensive. Is it just food? The standard situation of a conversation between a Far Easterner and a visitor has two "obligatory" plots. The first is a statement that our salaries are very good. The second is to be dismayed when the Far East names the price for utilities. It turns out to be much larger than, say, in Russian capitals.

The second, already familiar trouble is remoteness, isolation. The point is not only that "the path is not easy" or "ten thousand miles" the hook is not small. Vaughn, the southern neighbor decided to build an expressway at 12000. And nothing. Builds. The fact is that the bosses, who determine how to live in the region, what to be here, live, as a rule, far from the region. There was also an anecdote about the first such bishop Ivan Borisovich Pestel, the governor of Siberia, that he had the best eyesight in the world: he could see all of Siberia from St. Petersburg. Even today, top officials prefer to manage the region from the beautiful far away.

Their ideas about the region are based on official reports and statistical data. Both are good things. Only now people report not for "life", but for very specific "articles." And the statistics does not answer the questions you want to know about, but what you asked about. So there is confusion in the heads of the big bosses. GDP (statistical indicator) is confused with the standard of living (visible in the fridge and wallet). Capital investments are confused with economic management efficiency. Much that and what is confused. Not because stupid or not competent. Just the reality, especially the Russian one, in order to control it, should not be studied by numbers, but by feet, hands and eyes. From a distance it goes bad. Two unrelated realities arise.

This is bad? Yes. But is it so fatal? Is it possible to reconcile these realities? I think you can. This is the next essay.
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