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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 of the two centers of the Far Eastern region. Indeed, Khabarovsk is arguing with Vladivostok for primacy in various fields, from transportation to education, from music to cinema. The differences are obvious. Vladivostok is a port, military and, at the same time, incredibly lively, adventurous, ready for the most unexpected and risky adventures. A city located in space not only far and wide, but also ... vertically. Here, it seems, even the cars will soon learn rock climbing. Khabarovsk, on the other hand, is a city, albeit also a military one, but a very orderly and well-intentioned, merchant and official. In Vladivostok, as well as throughout the country, officials are also not enough. But here they seem more like entrepreneurs, managers of their "enterprises", rather than sovereigns. 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 appeared about the same time - in the middle of the XIX century, when according to the Treaty of Aigun Russia annexed the Amur and Primorye. The cities were built, first of all, as fortresses, military centers, from where the territory could be controlled. True, Khabarovsk already in the 90-s becomes the center of the governor-general, and Vladivostok continues to be the main sea fortress in the Pacific Ocean. But the similarity does not disappear.

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, as it seems to me, the strangeness of our beautiful land lies in the fact that in very short post-Soviet decades, incredible changes have occurred and occur here. The military-industrial complex collapsed, on which the regional economy was built since the distant 30s of the 20th century. The star of raw materials has risen. Forest, fish, metals, beans and grain gradually replaced the tanks and submarines, ships and aircraft. By many, orders of magnitude increased road construction. Bridges and tunnels, junctions and highways, urban, regional, federal. Yes, the road is still far from perfect. But more recently, they simply did not exist. Fully updated in 90-e Airport in Khabarovsk and more recently, a handsome hub in Vladivostok. The Trans-Siberian Railway 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, and the truth, does not change. The first and, probably, the most unpleasant is the tariffs. This misfortune for decades has made life difficult for everyone in the region. Enormous energy tariffs make both production, and the very life in the region "golden". It would seem that there are two huge HPPs on Zeya and Bureya. Significant capacities in Primorye. New and new investments in the energy sector of the region. But ... it's still there. Tariffs continue to struggle with the competitiveness of Far Eastern products. Honey she goes. That is, raw materials, of course, buy. But the products of its processing, sorry. Expensive. Yes, except products? The standard situation of the conversation between the Far East and the visitor has two "obligatory" plots. The first is a statement that we have very little salary. The second is a shock, when the Far East calls the price for utilities. It turns out to be much more than, say, in Russian capitals.

The second, already habitual trouble - remoteness, isolation. The point is not only that “the road is not easy” or “ten thousand miles” is not a small detour. Vaughn, the southern neighbor decided to build a high-speed highway to 12000. And nothing. Builds The fact is that the authorities, who determine how to live in the region, what to be here, live, as a rule, far from the region. More about the first such ruler, Ivan Borisovich Pestel, the governor of Siberia, there was a joke that he had the best vision in the world: he sees all of Siberia from St. Petersburg. Even today, the first persons prefer to govern the region from the beautiful far.

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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