Russia plans major population shake-up: report
Russia is planning a major shake-up of its population structure by concentrating the bulk of its people in 20 urban centres rather than scattered across the country, a report said Tuesday.
The Vedomosti daily said that the plan, which would mark an end to the Soviet vision of covering Russia's vast territory with urban areas, had been worked out by the government and Kremlin administrations.
It said that the plan could form a part of President Dmitry Medvedev's annual keynote address later this year and was in line with his drive to modernise Russia's economy.
According to Vedomosti, the secret document says that developing small towns with a population of less than 100,000 people -- which make up 90 percent of Russia's towns -- had no perspective in the future.
It said that the conditions have to be created to quicken the migration of the population from small towns to larger centres.
"There is no need to fight against the current and we need to develop big cities and urban centres," the document said, according to Vedomosti.
The plan would also end some absurdities of Russian contemporary geography whereby 48,000 strong Kanevskoe in south Russia calls itself a village while Gorenskoe in the Far East calls itself a town although it has just 160 people.
"Changing the map of the country is a necessary but not simple task which needs to be done very carefully as any overreaction could lead to a fight for urban resources," a government official told the newspaper.
The document also warned that if the process was carried out in a disorganised fashion there could be serious risks for the state due to imbalances between regions.
The Kremlin declined to comment, Vedomosti said.
The process is made all the more urgent by the decline in Russia's population which means that between now and 2025-2030 only six cities will see an increase in their population.
© 2010 AFP