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Residents of the Russian Far East: Demography, New Quality of Life, and Opportunities

September 06, 18:29 UTC+3
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Key conclusions

The Far East has great potential to attract people

“Aspects that appear to be more attractive in the Far East than in the places of residence for Russians whom we surveyed include: ecological safety, opportunities for opening one's own business, the way people treat each other, opportunities to improve housing conditions, employment opportunities, and conditions for starting families and having children,” Valery Fedorov, Director General of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) shared.

The region is already seeing steady growth both in industry and the number of jobs

“Today, as far as I know, my colleagues at the Ministry of Far East Development are working on a project that will stimulate the creation of new jobs and benefits for those who are creating new jobs and launching new projects,” said Maxim Topilin, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation.

“Industrial production growth last year exceeded the average Russian rate by 70%.  The amount of investments in fixed assets for the past year rose 8.5%.  The first half of 2017 saw investments in fixed assets grow by 20% compared to the same period last year,” explained Artur Niyazmetov, Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East.

Our orientation target is to have 6.5 million people in the Far East. That's 300,000 new people. Today, in accordance with projects that have already been initiated, there are 110,000 new jobs. Contracts for 68,000 of them have already been made,” Artur Niyazmetov said.

An important role in developing the region can be played by foreign immigration

“Many people who come to the Far East will be migrants from different cultures, including from countries where different religions are practiced,” said Igor Barinov, Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs.

“We have drafted a federal law about sociocultural immigration for foreign citizens.  We have presented it to the legislature.  I hope that we will be able to get it passed as soon as possible,” Igor Barinov added.

Anti-alcohol legislation in the region brings successful results

“Nearly a quarter of residential areas have adopted the regional law for municipalities to make decisions on prohibiting the sale of alcohol <…> This has slashed the sale of alcohol by more than 12%.  It has led to a reduction in crime.  Murder is down 40%, the death rate has declined, and the number of patients treated for alcoholism and psychosis has nearly been halved,” said Evgeniy Chekin, Chairman of the Government of the Republic of Sakha Yakutia.

Challenges

Low standard of living

“Residents of other Russian regions feel that the Far East is poorly developed: the standard of living, level of safety, cultural life, and quality of education,” Valery Fedorov said.

“Mortality in the Far East is much higher than in other regions <...> This is why if we aren't able to solve this problem in the region and significantly reduce the death rate, we won't be able to count on natural growth or migration flows,” Maxim Topilin said.

“Housing is not one of the things that makes the Far East attractive.  And the situation is getting worse.  Today, programs led by development institutions don't provide state support for investment projects in housing construction,” said Alexander Puzanov, General Director of the Foundation Institute for Urban Economics.

Solutions

Creating an attractive environment and a high standard of living

“We asked people what would make life in the Far East more attractive. The opportunity to earn good money and provide for families came in at the top. 40% people answered this way. If we to see a strong influx here, we need to have not just jobs, but jobs with high salaries,” Valery Fedorov explained.

“The first thing we need to deal with is seriously reducing the death rate.  The second is infrastructure, not only from the point of view of healthcare, but also education, culture, and comfortable urban space,” Maxim Topilin stressed.

Strengthening of regional development programs should be done at the legislative level

“In order to develop the Far East, a legislative code needs to be adopted,” said Nikolay Kharitonov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Regional Policy and Issues of the North and Far East.

A differentiated approach for various groups of the population; relying on young people

“The question of mobility is something that needs to be pointed at different categories.  Now we are thinking about how to look at students <...> The thing is that young people are the main instrument and the main resource that we have to rely on,” said Vsevolod Vulkov, Head of the Federal Service for Labor and Employment.

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