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We master the "empty space"

A series of essays on the countrymen who have disappeared. Essay 3

We master the "empty space"

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
The onset of a new century began in the Far East a little later than the calendar date, somewhere in 2005-2006. It was the time of the year that the price of a barrel of oil, breaking through the ceiling of $ 50, rushed to shining heights. The state has money for serious projects, for large-scale transformations. And here Informality of regional economy began to avenge myself. After all, most of the economic ties and transactions in the region flowed beyond the limits of legal forms of fixation, outside of accounting. According to official statistics, the region was empty and poor, surrounded on all sides by hostile foreigners ("silent expansion").

The reasons for creating such an image of the region are many. Not the last among them is the desire of the regional elite to protect themselves from the center and its control. For this and created all sorts of regional horror stories. The leaders here, of course, were Tatarstan with its Muslim nationalism and, a little later, Chechnya. But the Far East has fully mastered this practice. Regional economic entities did not strive for legality, they preferred “shadow”. The phrase “money loves silence” is found in that period in almost every second interview with entrepreneurs.

But now this situation is beginning to avenge itself. Gained resources, the power goes to save an empty and poor region. The fact that people here once lived and even survived is not taken into account. Everyone knows that the Far East is empty. They do not agree with emptiness, they do not agree with the ways of development with it. Void just master. This is exactly what the federal center did, based on the information it owned. It’s not even that someone set himself the goal of destroying regional business. He simply did not notice. Entire branches of the regional economy (for example, the import and maintenance of second-hand foreign cars, the export of "round timber") in which hundreds of thousands of people worked, were, in passing, destroyed.

But they are replaced by other types of business related to the budget. Reconstruction of Vladivostok, construction of overpasses throughout the region, construction of the ESPO, reconstruction of the Transsib and much more. Some enterprises, which turned out to be excessively profitable, changed their owners, having entered vertically integrated All-Russian holdings. It would seem that for the misfortune: some activities have disappeared, others have appeared. But it's not so simple. The entire structure of employment has been replaced. The number of people engaged in business, engaged in real production, is declining. But the number of inspectors, officials, and office clerks sharply and substantially increases. The reason is obvious.

In the informal regional economy that existed in the 90s, the basis for doing business was the highest level of trust between partners, between employees and the employer. It was he who allowed avoiding petty control, reduced transaction costs, guaranteed against sabotage, and much more. But such a level of trust was not possible between the metropolitan leadership and local enterprises. Moreover, the leaders of the All-Russian holdings were increasingly becoming not entrepreneurs, but people with a qualitatively different administrative background. The consequence of this is total control and an incredible increase in the number of controllers, controllers over controllers, etc. Costs are growing, and the enterprises that fed the region in the recent past are becoming habitually unprofitable. The burden of costs and "social responsibility" is too great.

Much was said and written about the enormous overexpenditure of funds "for holding the APEC summit." It seems that it is not so great. Simply any economic action in a remote region under the new conditions becomes "golden." Since staying in the region is now not a condition for successful business, the "Far East is starting to leave the" oligarchs ". From the point of view of ordinary common sense it is more interesting to be closer to the beginning of the budgetary stream, and not to its end. Accordingly, personal motivation for investing in the social infrastructure of the region is falling. They do not live here. No. Of course, they invest in the region. And invest a lot. But this is only budget money or money from state mega-corporations, that is, in fact, the same budgetary funds. And only where it corresponds to the reporting parameters, and not where the residents need it. The entire regional business is being built on the budget.

Someone was able to "buckle" to All-Russian projects or to social programs in the region, someone served enterprises that received a state (from the budget) order. Even small business, basically, turns out to be oriented on people with "big salaries": officials, military men, siloviki. The region's ultra-small business, being unable to withstand the increasing bureaucratization, goes into the shadows.

Living in the region is getting harder. Since there are still significantly fewer places in offices and control bodies than in previous areas of employment (from shuttles to lumberjacks, car repairmen and fishermen), people are beginning to slowly look again at the surrounding space outside the region. China joins the traditional capitals and the South of Russia - the main directions of migration in the previous period. Far Easterners inhabit not only the familiar Harbin, Dalian, Mudanjiang and Changchun, but also exotic in the recent past Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macau, Kumin, etc. So far, this is not an escape, but only an increased departure, which they are trying to compensate for with a counter flow of guest workers from Central Asia. From the relatively stable situation at the beginning of the century, by the end of the tenth years, an extremely unstable situation is formed, which is supported only by new and new budgetary injections. A magic spell about foreign investment was blocked by hostile magic. Local potential investors prefer to slowly withdraw capital, go into the cash. In these conditions, even a slight jolt is enough to turn the departure into flight. But this is what my next essay is about.
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