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Russia's capital city should move from Moscow to Siberia, says businessman Oleg Deripaska

By The Siberian Times reporter
25 January 2014

Historic cities of Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk ideal to connect country to buoyant Asian markets.

'I believe the capital should be located somewhere further away, in Siberia'. Pictured: 'White House', Irkutsk

'If we really want to develop Siberia, people who are present here today, including the governors, must move the capital to Siberia,' he told a business lunch on the sidelines of the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland. The issue of looking east and integrating Russia into the Asian markets was was a 'question of the country's survival', the billionaire was quoted as saying. 

'Moscow means excessive centralization and corruption,' said the chief executive of Rusal, whose business empire is largely based in Siberia. 'To boost the development of southern Russia, a decision was made to host the Olympics there. The country strained, and a new cluster appeared in the south.'

His proposal, which echoes a suggestion from close Vladimir Putin ally Sergei Shoigu in 2012, was heard by deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who was present at the lunch. 'Moscow has no significant value for the [surrounding] region, and we realise that keeping the capital in Moscow means corruption and excessive centralization,' he claimed. 

Putin in his third term as president has made the development of the country's eastern half a top priority, but this part of Russia starts from a low base with major infrastructure problems. He has shown no public inclination for moving the capital. 

Krasnoyarsk was hailed by Chekhov as the most beautiful Russian city while Irkutsk was once known as the Paris of Siberia. Shoigu, a native Siberian who is now the defence minister, said two years ago: 'I believe the capital should be located somewhere further away, in Siberia,' he said.

For a long period, St Petersburg acted as Russia's royal capital, even though the tsars were crowned in Moscow. There have been some calls to restore St Petersburg as a Western-facing capital but critics say the European economy is stagnant and Russia has more in common with Asia. In 1998, the capital of neighbouring Kazakhstan was moved from Almaty to Astana, closer to the centre of the country. Other countries where the largest city is not the capital include Australia, Brazil, Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.

Comments (8)

Leave the capitol in Moscow, because that's where all the riffraff are; and so far Siberia is very good at ruling itself & has avoided massive corruption. The business man says Moscow is very corrupted, well leave it corrupted, but to bring the capitol to Siberia would bring the corruption to Siberia.
Jaker, Dundalk
20/12/2016 23:47
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Lana, united Russia is the best choice. If we start breaking of land, there won't be a Russia anymore. It will just be another middle east for USA and other foreign powers to exploit. I am against polluting Baikal, but moving the capital to Siberia is a good idea.
Artem, USA, originally from Irkutsk
20/12/2015 19:20
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Perhaps the RF could take a leaf out of South Africa's book. During the years I lived there, in the 1960's, there were three capitals. Pretoria was the Administrative Capital, where the Government was located, Johannesburg was the Business Capital, with the Stock Exchange, the Central Bank and financial centre, and Cape Town was the Legislative Capital where the Parliament met and laws were passed.





With a country the size of Russia it does not make sense to concentrate all of these functions in one city. Even Germany has its Central Bank and financial centre in Frankfurt in the south of the country..
David Robertson, Perth, Scotland
01/09/2014 14:49
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Take into account that all the capital cities of large countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, USA) are never too far away from the hub of national population. At first I thought about Krasnoyarsk as it is at the geographic center of Russia, but we have to add the demographic center of Russia. So, if we combine both, the new capital would be Ekaterinbug, which is at the same time a Siberian city next to the hub of Russian resources and to the hub of Russian population.
Enrique, Spain
08/02/2014 09:19
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I do believe that Deripaska and Shoigu has a point. Moscow is simply too far away from Siberia and the far east to lead to anything other than feelings of disconnectedness for the gigantic parts of the country east of the Urals.

If Australia can have Canberra, Switzerland Bern, Canada Ottawa and so on, why can't Russia have Krasnoyarsk or Irkutsk?

Good point Alexander Leopold. Krasnoyarsk sounds like it would be a better choice. Sure wouldn't want to see Baikal polluted any more than it has been already by that paper mill.
Erik, Sweden
28/01/2014 04:07
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to Lana - aren't you in New Zealand to write about someone going to 'pollute your land'?

And to the question of 'bringing more Russians to Siberia' - well, I am Russian, and I was born in Siberia, how would you define me then?
Denis, Novosibirsk
27/01/2014 10:35
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No! Don't bring anymore Russian to Siberia :( I don't want to seem racist, it just causes pollution to our land and they can be racist to us. I dream of a liberal independent Siberia with peace and freedom (even set an example for Russia), but I know it's silly, but this is just pushing that dream even further away :(
Lana, New Zealand, originally from Sakha
27/01/2014 10:27
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Deripaska is absolutely right. But if to choose between Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk I would strongly suggest Krasnoyarsk. Irkutsk lies directly beside the lake Baikal. And a capital beside a lake is a 100% - guarantee for polluting the lakewater. Of course the Enisey river, which flows through Krasnoyarsk, is also in danger, if Krasnoyarsk becomes a capital. But at least it is a river. Flowing water has a better chance to stay clean. The lake Baikal must be and stay protected under all circumstances. Clear drinking water will soon be the biggest worth on earth. Far more expensive than gold, diamonds, uranium or any other material. So - I vote for Krasnoyarsk. And I think it has a good chance to become capital quite soon :)
Alexander Leopold, Vienna
26/01/2014 19:56
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