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"Not planning to move - I advise you to shut up"

EastRussia dealt with the motives and consequences of the transfer of the capital of the FEFD

The main administrative event for 2018 for the Far East was the decision of President Vladimir Putin to transfer the capital of the Far Eastern Federal District (DFO) from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok. The idea became public immediately after the September gubernatorial elections, failed by the ruling party in Khabarovsk and in the Primorsky Territory, and became a reality a couple of days before the December elections in Primorye. EastRussia recalled all the details of this fascinating history at the intersection of politics and economics and concludes that the capital's relocation threatens to remain the main administrative problem of 2019.

"Not planning to move - I advise you to shut up"
Photo: "Rossiyskaya Gazeta"


In autumn 2018, Oleg Kozhemyako offered to transfer the administrative center of the Far Eastern Federal District from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok - right after his appointment to the post of Acting Governor of Primorsky Krai (EastRussia summed up the political results of the year for the governor’s corps a little earlier). “Vladivostok is the eastern gate of the country, and those projects that today are the main drivers for the development of the Far East are launched here,” said Oleg Kozhemyako. The proposal was supported by the presidential administration of Russia, he immediately declared.

Khabarovsk has been the capital of the Far Eastern Federal District since 2000, since the formation of federal districts. Of course, the Khabarovsk authorities strongly opposed the loss of capital status. “Khabarovsk is the largest logistics center where new facilities are constantly being built,” said Khabarovsk Mayor Sergey Kravchuk. “If someone has such feelings or thoughts that can be transferred, I think that this will not work,” said the recently elected governor of the Khabarovsk Territory, Sergei Furgal.

In world practice there are numerous successful cases of the transfer of capitals, and even of states For example, Brazil was able to cope with this task: in 1960, its capital was moved from coastal Rio de Janeiro to the city of Brasília, specially built for this, located within the country, close to its geographical center. One of the goals was to slow down the growth of numbers in the overpopulated coastal part of the country and to give impetus to the development of the backward central regions of the country, in other words, to balance the development of individual territories of the national economy.

In the case of the Russian Far East, the relocation of the administrative center, on the contrary, was proposed in the direction from the hinterland to the coast. Despite the fact that this coast can not be called densely populated, and the inner regions are backward, the motives of transfer, as in the case of Brazil, can be classified as economic. First of all, the prerequisites for such a decision were formed by the recently actively reorienting processes of foreign trade, economic and investment relations to the APR countries (including in response to the loss of a number of relations caused by sanctions from the West), which implies the growing importance of coastal centers, including increased competence in administrative decision making.

Experts, however, even at the stage before the decision on the transfer of the capital was made, differed in the assessments of its main motive: politics or economics.


Moving is “not an economic, but a political decision,” said EastRussia, an expert in the field of socio-economic development of the regions, Natalia Zubarevich. According to her, initially Khabarovsk was chosen as the capital, since it, as a logistics center, is more closely connected by air with other areas of the Far East - Chukotka, Kamchatka, and Sakhalin. At the same time, in her estimation, the transfer procedure will not be too costly for the budget of the region: “rearrangement of chairs can be more expensive”. Five thousand new jobs promised by the Deputy Minister for Development of the Far East Alexander Krutikov at one of the meetings that Vladivostok moved to Vladivostok’s capital - this “roughly corresponds to the total number of employees working in the Ministry of Oriental Development in the staff of the Far Eastern Federal District, the Fund for the Development of the Far East and others official institutions that will move from Khabarovsk in the event of a change of status, ”said Natalia Zubarevich.

EastRussia help. All the capitals of the federal districts (FD) in Russia are the largest of its cities, with the exception of the North Caucasian FD: its capital Pyatigorsk is in sixth place in the district in terms of population after Makhachkala, Stavropol, Vladikavkaz, Grozny and Nalchik. Before 2015, the same situation was in the Far Eastern Federal District, while Khabarovsk was less than Vladivostok, as well as in the Crimean Federal District (Simferopol is less than Sevastopol) until its abolition in 2016 and the merger with Southern Federal District. In addition, in two federal districts, administrative centers are themselves cities of federal significance: Moscow in the Central and St. Petersburg in the North-West Federal District. The Southern Federal District is the only one in Russia where the capital (Rostov-on-Don) does not coincide with a city of federal significance (Sevastopol).

The transfer of the capital of the Far Eastern Federal District from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok is possible for three reasons, among which there is a place for “revenge” and populism, said Ilya Grashchenkov, head of the Moscow Regional Policy Development Center. “Now, the ruling authorities cannot directly control the territory of the Khabarovsk Territory, whose population has chosen LDPR Governor Sergey Furgal as governor, and in turn, Oleg Kozhemyako, as a local popular politician, uses Primorye’s zeal for Khabarovsk in his election campaign,” he said. In addition, many representatives of other states, the same China, already see Vladivostok as the capital of the Far East, which is largely due to the implementation of many image projects in the city related to the “turn to the East”, the expert said.

About the forced shift to the East as a way of "survival" of Russia, which was in a desperate situation due to the introduction of Western sanctions, writes Vyacheslav Shuper, Professor of the Department of Economic and Social Geography of Russia, Moscow State University. Mv Lomonosov. In his study "The territorial organization of the population and the economy of Russia on the threshold of tectonic shifts," he points to the dystonium of the Far East and the rivalry between the two cities.

According to the expert, in the traditional rivalry between Vladivostok and Khabarovsk, the first is doomed to victory, due to a more favorable macro-geographical position, which promotes Pacific integration, and the presence of prerequisites for the formation of a larger urban agglomeration. Now the population of both cities differs by about 14 thousand people (in 2017, the population of Khabarovsk was 618 150 people, Vladivostok - 604 901 people). At the same time, Vladivostok can double the number of residents at the expense of such settlements as Nakhodka, Ussuriysk, Artyom, Partizansk, Bolshoy Kamen, Slavyanka, Posiet and others, whereas Khabarovsk has practically no such possibility, Vyacheslav Shuper said.


December 13, three days before the voting day at the gubernatorial elections in the Primorsky Territory, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree transferring the center of the FEFD from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok. By this time, however, the federal authorities did not receive any public economic rationale for the transfer of the capital: despite the fact that the Far Eastern Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev instructed his office and supervised ministry to prepare a detailed report on the transfer for December 1 in December EastRussia Ministry of Eastern Development assured that they did not see the document.

Unofficially, EastRussia sources said that the relocation of all representative offices of federal structures in the Far Eastern Federal District from Khabarovsk to Vladivostok, according to the data provided to the embassy, ​​will cost 23-24 billion rubles. - that is, in an amount comparable to a quarter of the budget of the developed Far Eastern region.

Yury Trutnev said that the move to Vladivostok of the structures of the plenipotentiary apparatus based in Khabarovsk will take about a year, and has even already found a suitable building from among those liberated by the Far Eastern Federal University when it moved from Vladivostok to Russky Island. But from the side of other federal structures at the end of the year there was a powerful administrative rattle: representatives of Rostransnadzor, Rosguards and other power structures said one after another, they did not intend to move.

The deputy prime minister, who combines his post with the post of presidential envoy in the DFO, can only say: “Regarding the departments that intelligently state that they do not plan to move, I would recall the advertisement“ Sometimes it is better to remain silent. ” This is a decree of the President of Russia. He and I will prepare proposals, with an understanding of the cost of the move and its feasibility, and he will decide. And exactly we will carry it out, and certainly not the arguments of the heads of departments ”(quoted in the“ Rossiyskaya Gazeta ”).

So far, Vladivostok hasn’t received anything from the capital relocation, except for promises of five thousand new jobs supported by promises of new investments: Yuri Trutnev said that since Vladivostok comes “most of the investment is about 60 percent,” the proximity of control and supervision structures to investment projects will only accelerate the service of investors. Another idea of ​​the deputy prime minister-plenipotentiary is to solve the issue of Vladivostok traffic jams, perhaps even through the construction of the Egersheld Cape – Russian Island bypass road: the project was tasked to prepare the Ministry of Transport.

But Khabarovsk, the governor Sergey Furgal is sure, lost almost nothing: “If we consider financial losses from the point of view of losses, there are no losses. The capital, in addition to the name, did not in itself give any money; no additional subsidies or transfers were received from the federal center. From the point of view of image, yes, there is image loss. ” Moreover, the past year the head of the Khabarovsk Territory concluded with a promise to seek another special status for his administrative center: “We will jointly develop a program and go to the federal center with a request to grant Khabarovsk the status of a city of federal significance,” he said.

So the race of capitals in the Far East, quite possibly, is still far from over.

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