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Thousands of people resettle from Arctic to warmer Russian regions

February 28, 8:21 UTC+3 KRASNOYARSK

Most often those leaving the region are retirees

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© Anatoliy Strunin/TASS

KRASNOYARSK, February 1. /TASS/. The programs to resettle people from the Arctic to regions with warmer climate refer to thousands of families. The Krasnoyarsk Territory has resettled 5,000 families from the 11,000 planned. More than 26,000 families are on the list in the Murmansk region, local authorities told TASS.

"We have an agreement between the Ministry of Regional Development, the government of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, and administration of the Norilsk city and the Norilsk Nickel Company on support in resettlement," Norilsk’s Mayor Oleg Kurilov said. "The program’s term is ten years, it refers to 11,000 families in Norilsk and Dudinka. The program began in 2011, and by now almost 5,000 families have moved under it."

The program has proved to be effective, he continued. "People are leaving for the mainland, we get their flats, which we repair and give to Norilsk’s residents, as construction of new housing would be five times more expensive for the city," the mayor said.

The Murmansk region’s official Elena Abramenko said as of January 1, 2017, the region had more than 26,000 families on the list of those having right for social subsidy to resettle. "The list of people, who want to leave for regions with better climate, is growing all the time," she said.

Respectable retirees

The program in the Krasnoyarsk Territory is effective for those who have worked in the Extreme North districts for at least 15 years. They mostly come from Norilsk, the territory’s second largest city with population of more than 178,000 people. Historically, the migration processes are very active there - most people, who have the necessary work term in the north, are trying to leave the severe climate for better regions in the country. At the same time, Norilsk is a well-known city where citizens have high incomes due to the ongoing inflow of labor resources - for several years running the unemployment rate there remains at 0.8%.

The region’s government reported, in 2011-2016 the families who moved to other regions bought real estate objects there under the program worth more than 10 billion rubles (about $172 million). Most families chose districts of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, Moscow, Leningrad and Krasnodar regions. The State Duma (lower house of Russian parliament) legislator Raisa Karmazina said, in 2011-2015 the resettlement was financed by Norilsk Nickel, federal and regional budgets, but in 2016 the federal budget stopped the agreement’s financing.

The Murmansk region also confirmed problems with federal financing. While back in 2015, the financing made 468.29 million rubles (about $8 million), distributed among 287 people, in 2016 the financing made 416.8 million rubles (about $7.2 million) - sufficient to resettle 192 people. In the current year, the Murmansk region receives 348.86 (about six million dollars), while the required sum is 7.2 billion (about 124 million dollars).

The region’s minister of social development, Sergei Myakishev, said most people who want to leave the region, move to southern regions on their own. Over 2016, the population reduced by 3,000 - those were people who chose to move to regions southwards. Most often those leaving the region are retirees. The labor force does not have problems with finding jobs, as the unemployment lately has lowered and in 2016 it was 1.5%.

Role of Norilsk Nickel

Corporate processes also influence the migration. The city of Monchegorsk, home of the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company (Kola MMC), is a center of labor force attraction. Deputy head of the local employment committee Kseniya Zinatullina said, in 2016 the share of unemployed in the city got down by 16%, and the number of vacancies grew by 1.3 times. Within that year, 1,088 people got jobs - a growth of more than 6% year-on-year.

The Norilsk Nickel Company reported the number of its employees at the Kola MMK and in Pechenega district in 2016 at 10,200. Lately, the company has been employing more people due to higher amounts of nickel and copper refining and due to implementation of strategic projects.

In 2016, Norilsk Nickel closed down the outdated Nickel Plant in Norilsk, which had been working there since World War II times. Thus, the environment in the city has improved greatly. About 1,600 former employees got new jobs, and about 1,000 of them were trained and one in two received new skills. The decision to close down the plant was made three years earlier. Reports said the final technology stages of getting pure nickel would be relocated to the Murmansk region - to the Kola Mining and Metallurgical Company.

"As for closing down of the Nickel Plant and the production’s relocation to Murmansk, I consider the decision correct from the ecology point of view. The plant’s staff are offered training, subsidies and housing, support in moving. This option is more attractive to Norilsk Nickel, in view of the current environmental legislation, than to keep the production facilities and pay big fines for emissions," the State Duma’s lawmaker Raisa Karmazina said.

Presidential order

During an earlier meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Director General of the Norilsk Nickel Company Vladimir Potanin said people should have the opportunity to be working in Norilsk for an unlimited term, however, should circumstances change they should be able to move. The president, in his turn, ordered the company’s head to establish direct contacts with local and federal authorities to settle the problem of moving and employment for those, who prefer to leave the northern area.

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