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Slide3 : The RFE is in color—this area has been called many things over time, but since the mid 18th century it has been an administrative unit within Russia (there is only a vague boundary between Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East, it is not easy to locate a specific boundary). The geographic attributes of this area looked at using a broad approach: historically this area was in Tsarist times considered the “ends of the earth.” It took 6 months to go from Moscow to the far edge during early colonization. There was no way to sail there, so you had to go on foot the whole way. Far East—who went there? Occasionally tsarist military contingents, but mostly fur traders, dissidents, and people that got sent away by government. 17th to 18th century-- either people out to make a buck, out to escape repression, or people who were pushed there. Not unlike Alaska (making money, getting away from the law). This history is pertinent and relates to how we think of the north-- the enormous distance was important, the people who settled it were trying to get someplace far away from the political center. Even now there is not much infrastructure. A key aspect of both Alaska and the Russian Far East is the lack of infrastructure. In the RFE there is only one major road and the Trans Siberian Railway (and both are relatively recent developments). But with establishment of trade and exploration—both the materials that were extracted and the money that was collected had to get back to the capitol. This created a need to improve transportation. What roads there were (gravel roads created by the serf economy- which was actually a slave economy- made the roads) across rivers cut trees and temporary crossings. Tsarist government wanted to improve ability to move from east to west.
More Information about Molokans
Slide 6: Vasily Surikov's painting of the Boyarina Morozova being dragged off. She was a
leader of schismatics at a very early stage, and was sent into exile because of her support
of Old Believers.
Slide 8: Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Far East. Chuckchi people language similar to Yupik, Evenk. Where the population density is at its highest the density of people probably never exceeds 2 people per sq kilometer.
For forestry and fishing it is easy to comprehend how you can do things
illegally, but there are even illegal open pit mines. Not just under the table,
but with the collusion of high levels of government. Up in the Arctic Dr. Causey knows the
reserves are more extensive than shown on this map, so this is more of a minimal estimate.
(1890-1905). In Alaska the only major train route runs from Seward to Fairbanks.
Anchorage didn’t exist before 1910, and its purpose was for building the railroad,
with the major reason to transport gold. Seward is the major deep water port in Alaska. In Alaska the railroad
goes north-south to transport minerals from the interior to the seaport, nothing goes east-west. In Canada
the train goes to Churchill. Only in Scandinavia do you have trains that actually go
anywhere—in the Arctic as a general rule there is not much infrastructure. In the large scale of things, the train
in Alaska doesn’t cover much territory, but it is the only way to get to some areas-- there is a train that you can stop at any point to get off or flag down (it is a whistle stop train) which is the only way to get to some settlements.
Norilsk tailings and smoke stacks that have devegeted everything down
Dr. Causey's lecture on the Russian North).
The picture is that even for Siberian standards, the RFE is
isolated, rural, undeveloped, lacks infrastructure, people are poor,
depopulating (2 years ago Russian government once again began giving incentives for people to move to the RFE), declining birth rate, high death rate. For different reasons there are
relatively low populations in Arctic regions with the exception of Scandanavia. In Alaska the
workforce moves back and forth to oil fields (2 weeks on and 2 off), transported
back and forth, no one lives permanently. In Tsarist and Soviet Russia people were moved to areas where resources were being extracted and made
to stay permanently-- you can’t do that in Alaska.
Alaska and the Russian Far East are therefore culturally, economically, geologically, environmentally contiguous. So how can the two regions help each other—and should they help each other develop sustained and diverse economies necessary for survival? A recent example of cooperation was the Russian ice breaker that helped deliver heating oil to Nome. This is an example of shared infrastructure.
But are there barriers to working together on diversifying economy? The question was raised-- why should they diversify when oil and gas are so profitable, and why should they cooperate when the monopoly for extraction leads to competition, not cooperation? Political barriers—Cold War legacy, there is the perception that there is gross corruption in the Russian political system, which leads to mistrust, political and geopolitical barriers to U/S.-Russian cooperation. Language can also be a barrier—but the only major language difference is the Russian/English divide, while many of the Indigenous languages are shared in common.
Cooperation may be necessary because returns so great and global needs are so great that it may facilitate cooperation in oil extraction. Is timber a global or regional resource? Can the Beringia region develop the ability to be sustainable and integrated— and is this of global significance? For example, if you take away the taiga it brings us closer to ecological collapse because of the impact on atmosphere ("the lungs of the planet").
We can conclude that we have constructed a good argument that this region is a global resource hot spot (salmon is one good example). Since it is an ecosystem services hotspot, the only way to make it continue as functional is to form a regional collaboration for sustainability.
Eastern Siberia extends from the Yennisey River to an indistinct
boundary formed by the eastern mountains which separate the Russian Far East.
Until 1867 Alaska was Russian America. The town of Seward was named after the U.S. Secretary of State who engineered the purchase. Alaska was a territory until the 1950’s when became state.
The RFE during the Cold War was heavily fortified (in common with Alaska). Vladivostok is unofficial capitol of the RFE, has always been (relatively young city) a port city. During the Cold War it was a heavily fortified port. There has been talk of Vladivostok becoming an economic free zone (duty free/tariff free) although this hasn’t yet happened.
Russian Far East
place names that are important to mention—Chukotka Peninsula (Indigenous People historically inhabiting were Chuckota). Kamchatka Peninsula— Vast majority of active volcanoes of the RFE. Possesses enormous
natural resources, most important are fisheries. Economy of RFE consists of both legal and
illegal extraction. There is a tremendous potential
for sport fishing and hunting—ecotourism could become big business.
The Kamchatcka Peninsula can be thought of as the
largest part of an archipelago—there is a chain of islands that come off of it called the Kurile Islands. Some of the islands are Russia's, the rest are Japan's. This has been contested territory
for a couple of centuries (it is still contested).
Sakhalin Island—in terms of Russian history this was a site of an infamous prison. Helen Hundley will talk about the cities of Siberia and how they came into being. In two weeks she will talk about imprisonment and exile. Sakhalin can be thought of as the “Devil's Island” (French) or “Botany Bay” (British) of the Russian empire. The prison ended around 1900 but previous to that it was where people were sent from all over Russia. Sakhalin holds an important place in Russian Siberian literature. Chekov (1869-1904, died of consumption-TB), Russia’s greatest playwright, greatest short story writer was first a medical doctor. He took the train in 1890 as far as he could, then after Ural Mountains went by horse drawn carriages for many months, finally got to Sakhalin, and spent about 6 months interviewing everyone (including prisoners and Indigenous Peoples). He came back with a huge number of pages of notes for the book Island of Sakhalin—this book created a tremendous stir, and it caused a transformation of public opinion in the reading public. In less than a decade the government closed down Sakhalin as prison. Before 1880s, the southern half of Sakhalin belonged to Japan, only by way of conquest in WWII did the Soviets got the entire island plus some of the Kurile Islands. Lots of oil there, Harry Sinclair tried to work out deal with Lenin but it fell through because the U.S. State Department shut it down. Sinclair wanted to start developing oil resources. Russians with help of Exxon Mobil and other western oil companies are making efforts to develop offshore oil resources.
We began the semester taking the big picture view of Siberia, but next week when Dr. Hundley talks about cities we will start focusing in on smaller areas and specific subjects.
The KU students were given two articles to read for the upcoming lectures:
The Man Who Saved Siberia by Nikolai Ignatiev, in Condi Nast Traveller. Sergei Zalygin (1913-2000)
lectured at KU in 1987 and 1998. He was born in Western Siberia. Zalygin was a hydrologist by
training, and worked as a professor at Omsk University, then became full time creative writer and
editor of Novy Mir Новый Мир. His work was important for the preservation of the natural world—in the late
1950s-1960s he led the environmental movement that stopped the reversal of the flow of Siberians rivers
(Ob, Yennisey, Lena). Engineers were planning to build enormous canals and dams
to send water to the Central Asian cotton fields. Scientific opposition was important
to stopping it. Zalygin won an award for his work.
Empire at the End of the Earth by Brett Forrest. Western Siberia's Yamal Peninsula is also called the Yamla-Nenets Peninsula (the dominant Indigenous group is the Nenets). The Yamal Peninsula is important to President Putin. In a recent position paper published about Russian economy he said that Russia needs to diversify the economy so that it no longer is dependent on extraction. This needs to happen, because if the price of oil and gas plunges it will disrupt the economy. Even as he says that Russia pushes to develop gas and oil resources at a fast rate. One of the latest schemes is to develop natural gas from the Yamal Peninsula. They have begun to build the pipelines. North of the Arctic Circle the climate is severe, which creates a problem for development. Murmansk is at the furthest point of the Gulf Stream, which moderates climate or northern Europe. But the Yamal is beyond the extent of the Gulf Stream. Russians are leaders in the development of atomic ice breakers to keep waters open for oil and gas development (as well as getting supplies to communities).