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Politicians call for a new kind of 'capital flight' - to Siberia or the Russian Far East

By The Siberian Times reporter
30 August 2013

The mayor of Vladivostok is fed up with Moscow being asleep when he needs key decisions to be made.

Igor Pushkarev (centre) said the move would end latent fears of a land grab in the east by hungry neighbours. Picture: Vladivostok city administration

Mayor Igor Pushkarev also claims that statistically countries with capitals in the east rather than the west are more prosperous, and develop more quickly and dynamically. While not directly proposing his city takes over as capital from Moscow, he said of an eastern switch: 'I think it's just necessary to do because Moscow and St. Petersburg are so large that they can live by themselves, and without capital functions'. 

Hinting perhaps that a capital (city) flight could lead to less capital (money) flight he said: 'Why did Peter the Great move the capital to St Petersburg? He moved it away from corruption. Countries which have the capital in the east, develop faster and better, because here we are already going to bed when you are just waking up'.

There theme was taken by by firebrand politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky who Tweeted: 'The idea of moving the Russian capital re-appeared. It is more profitable historically and philosophically to have the capital city of Russia in the country's Far East.'

Certainly, it is now a key Kremlin priority now for Russia to exploit its eastern potential, connecting more to the vibrant Asian markets rather than the moribund EU.

Zhirinovsky's choice of an ideal location for a new capital was one of the remotest in the east.  

'Not Vladivostok, not Khabarovsk, but somewhere in the area of Magadan, further away from the Chinese border, on the shores of the Sea of Okhotsk.'

Vladivostok, the Far East of Russia

Russia now needs a window on the east, just as Peter the Great saw St Petersburg as a window on the west. Pictured: Vladivostok Golden Gate bridge, The Siberian Times 

The idea of a Siberian capital for Russia had a boost last year when it was supported by Sergei Shoigu, now the country's defence minister. In fact Moscow's current role as capital is less than 100 years old, though it also had this role prior to 1712. Lenin moved the seat of power from Petrograd - St Petersburg - after the 1917 revolution.

'I believe the capital should be located somewhere further away, in Siberia,' Shoigu said. 'Tomsk, Omsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk are in the middle of the country. They have everything there. Why not to move to Novosibirsk? There we have everything as well'.

He forecast fewer traffic jams than in Moscow. 'Maybe there it would be easier to breathe.'  

Shoigu is a native Siberian, from the Republic of Tyva, and he stressed his opinion was his own - but he is not alone. 

Academic Sergei Karaganov has suggested that Russia should have three distinct capitals - Moscow as the political, military and diplomatic centre; St Petersburg in the west as the cultural centre; and Vladivostok as the new economic hub.

But then he went further, writing in an essay: 'If Peter the Great lived now, he would undoubtedly build the capital not in the Baltic region, but by the Pacific Ocean.' 

Russia now needs a window on the east, just as Peter the Great saw St Petersburg as a window on the west. 

Omsk, Western Siberia

'Tomsk, Omsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk are in the middle of the country; they have everything there', Shoigu said. Pictured: Omsk city centre, The Siberian Tiems 

Radical politician Eduard Limonov has also proposed a new capital should be build from scratch in southern Siberia. 

Pushkarev claimed the move would end latent fears of a land grab in the east by hungry neighbours. 

'Imagine that we have a capital in the east? The question of developing the territory will disappear and the neighbours will stop looking at us thinking 'maybe we we can try once again to take away some territory from Russia?', he said.  'This will put an end to this issue once and forever.'

In Kazakhstan, moving the capital from Almaty to Astana had halted fears of locals that Russia might want its northern territory. 

'Why did (Nursultan) Nazarbayev move the capital? So that there were no questions as to the territory, whether they need to give something to Russia.

'So that enormous issues were solved.'

Comments (2)

Indeed asian markets have future, while the European Unión it's more than moribund as you say: it's already rotting in hell, even if they don't konw it yet.

We see that distance it's no as much un issue as time zone, so putting the Russia's capital east is a good idea.
felix fernandez de castro, palma de mallorca españa
03/09/2013 04:21
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In Brazil , Canada or Australia, there was established a new Capital apart from the former large cities like Rio, Montreal and Sidney....but the new capitals were not far away from the hub of population (South East Brazil, South East Canada or South East Australia)

So, a new Capital in the Russian Federation cannot be too far away from the hub of Russian population (Central District)...even if it can be in a Siberian city like Ekaterinburg or Novosibirsk.

Better Ekaterinburg because if we add both the geographical center of Russia and the demographic center of Russia, Ekaterinburg is the right place.
Enrique, Spain
02/09/2013 09:06
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