I hope the understanding will appear: if they continue to develop just Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, things can end badly.

What will be Ekaterinburg like 10-20 year later? This question we discussed with Deputy Head of Yekaterinburg on Strategic Planning, Economic Affairs and Finance Alexander Vysokinsky. The conversation was difficult, we were constantly moving from the optimistic to the pessimistic scenario And which of them is closer to reality is hard to understand.

-          Before we start to talk about the future, it makes sense to understand what is happening in the city in recent years. During the 20 years after the revolution we have come a very long way in terms of the formation of Yekaterinburg as a whole. Many have forgotten today that Sverdlovsk didnt exist as a whole in the Soviet times. There were several cities combined by the single name. There was Mono-Khimmash, Mono-Uralmash There wasnt single set of municipal services. The problem was clear, but it went no further discussion.

So I worked already in the Administration. The pipes of the war time, welded from defective gun barrels, were elevating on the Uralmash plant. They were putting the pipes as they were told by director. The task of linking all the communal system, traffic flows, and movement of huge masses of people - into a single complex - fell on Chernetsky. And he, in my opinion, was able to solve this problem brilliantly. First achievement was yes, we have survived. And we managed to establish the city as a single organism. The second step, in 1992-95, was strategic decision-making about the way the city has to move. From the geopolitics point of view existing near by the three cities with millions of population in each is nonsense. The cities which have developed by evolution (Chicago, Birmingham, and Seattle) always have around them scorched earth in a radius off four hundred kilometers. The prime example - Moscow, around which up to 600 kilometers is the scorched earth. Not because no one is being born there. Just because when only he is born and started to walk he goes to Moscow. If youre born in Vladimirskaya region and graduated the school, you have nothing to lose. Moscow sucks human streams, devastating these lands. The Nizhny Novgorods development (its situated in 400 km from Moscow) is now a big question. We are safe due to the distance of 2000 km. But here are three megacities. Everybody realizes if you begin to tread on one meadow, the competition occurs.

-          As I understand, the three cities are we, Chelyabinsk and Perm. Why there is no Tyumen in that list?

-          It is too far and it is rather a large oil pumping station than the city. There is no economy there, there is Pipe. For example I was told: The city has a great competitive advantage - military-industrial complex. I answered: -Yes, great. In 2000 everything was in a terrible state. Now it is really a support for the city as the Government properly finances the state defense order in recent years. Any world crises are nothing for those who work in defense industry. So what will be next? What if the oil price reaches $ 50? The defense industry will come to a stop.

So on the basis of all this, in the mid of 1990-th, it was decided that Ekaterinburg is no longer an industrial center. We are becoming the multifunctional center to serve "Khanty-Mansi emirates', Tyumen, Chelyabinsk Weve got Trans-Siberian Railway, we are engaged in logistics, begin to develop finance, wholesale trade, retail.

-          That is, no one has ever proceeded from the assumption that oil would soon be worth $120?

-          That is not the question. We argued with Kovaleva, Minister for Regional Economy then. She was saying: The program of distribution of productive forces forever, we will create new jobs, people will get paid, and everything will be fine.

-          - Who will buy it then, at what cost will it be obtained? I asked.

We can create the jobs in Severouralsk Bauxite Mine, but if mining is at a depth of 700 meters, the production will be golden like, itll be cheaper to bring everything by the train. To produce necessarily that was the main Soviet approach. But we said: - No, nothing like that. The strategic plan of Ekaterinburgs development radically differs from the plans of social-economic development of the Soviet era. You know how? We do not consider a man as a productive resource, the resource with the encumbrances, which has to be served somehow - somewhere to settle, treat, and entertain. So the development of social sphere and man himself becomes a secondary. We always want to buy cheaper resources. But we said: No, first of all - human development. And developed person, community of the developed citizens will develop the city economy.


In fact, it is a withdrawal from the industrial way of life, by which all try to live. I cannot say that we were able to do everything, but we did a lot. We have overcome that stage, when many were shouting: Chernetsky spread traders! If only one of them apologized now. Thats usual situation. Now those who used to say that, enjoy the infrastructure and all created over the years benefits, go to stores, shopping centers and tell the Muscovites that we have as cool things as they. If earlier, coming to Moscow, you felt a real difference, now you dont feel it. Now people are important, but not plant. They tried to construct on the border of Ekaterinburg and Berezovsky, on the shore of Lake Shartash, the Metallurgical Works. How did it end? The townspeople sent them away. They were against the situation when some merchant arrives and starts making money, at the time as they will be breathing the dirty air. This is the radical change of the way of peoples thinking.


Ekaterinburg now is the settlement and behavioral project, project of changing the citizens way of thinking. Now citizens realized No one owes anything to anyone, despite all the promises, you can wait a long time for the benefits: nothing ventured, nothing gained. The windows glow until 9 p.m., people are working. We got economically active citizens. Of course the specific policy of the state suppresses many things, but nevertheless. If 20 years ago Sverdlovsks citizens didnt differ from Chelyabinsks, now the Ekaterinburgs residents are accustomed to a much higher quality of life.


Naturally, the coin has another side. We constantly have to upstage ourselves. Weve got clean city, really clean. But if after the snowfall we didnt remove the snow for two days, some excellent citizen, driving a Daewoo Matiz (the summer car by definition), begins to cry in her blog that this is impossible to pass the city by car, that all the people lost conscience at City Hall. I really want to answer: ride your car for about 50 km in any direction from Ekaterinburg, and compare.

-      --    No, - she is saying, - I live in this city, my children live here, I have the right to ride what I want, and you have to provide that!


-          Not only the metallurgical production, but any economic activity is meeting a hostile reception. Economically active citizens are not glad to the new jobs.


-          Thats right. Unemployment in Ekaterinburg is about 0,7 %. The critical however is 12% level. People do have job, a place to live, their basic needs are satisfied. So we begin to think about eternal values: the parks, bicycle paths! We begin to think about the things, which do not bring the economic return. Im here, according to my post; speak as an apologist for mammon. These are our arguments with Mr.Lipovich (Deputy Head of Administration of Yekaterinburg on the accomplishment, Transport and Environment). He says: We shouldnt let the heavy transport in the city; let us all transfer to a bicycle and public transport. There is perfect strategy. But when after several years he will come to me for the money on improvement of public services, Ill say: There is no money, because there are no taxes. You have strangled the business. Those people, that do business, pay the taxes and make the city such as we see it now all of them are behind the wheel. Its their choice, their space. We tell them: Transfer to the public transport, and they are ready to do it, if it will be comfortable, fast, equipped with air conditioning transport, where you can enter in a suit for five thousand dollars.


-          Where there are no persons without place of residence.


-          Yes. If there are no such conditions, but the public transport is suppressed, these people will just leave the city. Chelyabinsk, for example. So in that case everything will turn upside down. Everyone will understand the merchant, businessman is not just a huckster, that is a man who earn the money, but at the same time he solves a number of social problems. He as a bee collects nectar, but herewith he is pollinating flowers as well. The businessman, to make the money, creates the new jobs, and then he spends this money, and gives the job to the people again. The respectable businessman supports about 10 persons of the staff.

But this is only one of the variants of the events development. When discussing a current phase, we broke a long way from Chelyabinsk and Perm. The industry we have now occupies in the total economy the same part, as the trade, logistics, finance, and transport 25-30%. It was 90%. The city economy stays at five legs. When the crisis occurred, the financial sector felt badly, we were standing on four legs, but firmly. We solved these problems, using the achievements of the Soviet times. This is bad reconstruction of the housing and etc. So if we compare amounts of public investment in our city and in Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Vladivostok, it obvious that Ekaterinburg was developing not due to, but contrary. All country was constructing the Moscow underground. We did everything by ourselves. We have invested two billion a year, because to serve the construction in a conserved form would be even more expensive. These two billion we were taking from the schools and hospitals renovations.

The state was saying: Its hard for us, but at the same time it has funded the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of Kazan. The total opacity of public money obtaining still remains as it was. This is a huge problem, as well as the absence of the state policy. Lets take such example as the national projects. They are going for the several years; a lot of money is being spent. But still there are no national projects. For any person who deals with the real economy, the project is associated with a book, which lists the forms, deadlines, schedules, rates, amount of funding, the indicators. And in this case it is clear what to do, by which recourses and what should you achieve. There is no such system here. And, accordingly, we cannot understand if the project is implemented or not, effectively wasted money or not.

We need a methodology for what you want, but distinct, clear and equal for all. To receive the money from the Federation you need to find the coin and prove that youre 1000 year old? No problem, we will find it. Or maybe we, as Kazan and Ufa did, well say about the problems with nationalists and, if there will be no money, there will be riot in madrasah? Tomorrow we give the task to Tushin (Administration Officer, responsible for the political process), and we will also have rebellious madrasah.

But our things are different; every case is individual, all in the mode of fire brigade. Yes, it was normal in 90-th, in crisis. But when only the translational motion occurs thats all, no fire brigade; there should be scheduled work with clear methodology. We cant understand why we have regions with one tax system, and that are the national republics, and there are Russian subjects, where absolutely another system is. But the system of the fire brigade is convenient to many, like in the saying blame it all on the war.


The second problem is the present picture: here we are, the State, and there are all other municipalities where the population lives. It turns out that the closer to the people, the less money to solve their problem. Money and functions are distributed over the levels in inverse proportion. The main functions from the population point of view are at the municipal level, but at first the federal budget level is being filled. The easiest to collect taxes go there. Only when that runs through the edge of the barrel, the money goes to the region level. And only if everything is full, they go to the municipal level eventually.

What is more, communication with the citizens is going at the municipal level. In the building of the regional government the pass is necessary; to us you can pass calmly. The most of the letters they forward to us.

Let us compare. The budgetary provision in Yekaterinburg is 18 -.20 million per person per year. Approximately the same is in other megacities. The budgetary provision in the little cities is 5 thousands. Now, attention, budgetary provision in Moscow is 130 thousands, in Saint-Petersburg 90. At that the local authoritys functions are the same, as well as the cost value. It turns out; we're just five times less and less in washing, cleaning, construction, etc. But if it is written in Constitution that we all are equal so enter the common standards of budget sufficiency, like 20 or 30 thousands. It doesnt matter, how many, but the common. And some cities have earned not only for bread, but for bread and butter.

Further, the state considers municipalities as a gray mass. President says: There is mess in the municipalities; we need to take the health care service away from them. I dont understand why we should make the conclusions based on such little settlements as Shali, Gari, Tabori, which were finished by the State itself. Our health care is even better then the regional. There was a good example. We were sitting with Chernetsky (Senate parliamentary now) at a meeting with Vorobyev.


-          Which year was that?

-          Nothing has changed. The meeting was devoted to the budget disagreements of the municipalities with the region. The Ekaterinburgs disagreements are for more then billion. But the regulations are drawn up in such a way that every municipality has 20 minutes for a speech. We sit, wait for our turn, listen to others, they got some problems - 5 million on the boiler room, 10 millions on the roads. Chernetsky raises his hand and says: Alexey Petrovich, Ill solve this one hundred myself for them, but you talk to me for the next two hours. All the people objected, like, no, everybody must have the same amount of time! But we are all different. Our municipality is bigger than many subjects of the Federation.

-          And here we turn to the future. I really hope, with Putins coming to the power, the understanding that developing only Moscow and Saint-Petersburg might end badly, will appear.

-          Well have to put a fence somewhere beyond the Urals, and give the other part of the country to the Chinese. We need approaching points, as in aviation. That means the agglomerations of Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, and the Far East must develop.


-          - But there is such a project already, isnt it?


-          The problem is its like with the national projects. There was potency to declare, to count up, and redirect the federal money Here we have the subjective factor. The Urals, Siberia, they are all from the exiles, they are stubborn. Its more convenient to work with Chechnya, Sochi, to build the new Moscow for a federal official. The understanding must be at the President of the countrys level. I speak about these things as about gained through suffering, because I constantly beat my head against the glass ceiling. Our child seems to walk in the little shoes. Its like if these shoes were put on, being 8 years old, and then kind dad says well, footwear is not worn out, why buy another? But there is no space to grow for the leg. This is first. Second, the understanding of all these agglomerations is necessary. Third is understanding that the concentration of financial flows in Moscow and St. Petersburg is a cancer for the country. That will lead to the relocation of all sane and active population to Moscow.


-          But this is the objective process, isnt it?


-          This irrepressible policy, that's all. Everything is decided by the volitional order: "Gazprom" pays taxes here, "Rusal" there. ..


-          But business is being consolidated itself: there were small shops selling household appliances, now there are federal networks around.


-          No problem, its objective process. But the federal network must pay the taxes for the money, earned in Ekaterinburg, here, in Ekaterinburg. And I think there is no problem to make it on the level of state policy. The problem is that someone greasy will have to move over, but he has become accustomed to his budget security.


-          But with such a universal brotherhood we will have to move aside in favor of Shali, wont we? Or is this process profitable for us?


-          It is profitable for us, because we enter into the economic sphere, the sphere of fair, clear game. You cant be a little bit pregnant. If we go into the market, lets go to the market. Then the clear understanding will be that Ekaterinburgs development is the key factor for development of this node, this part of the country. And the city gets the appropriate status the federal city. EXPO is the way to get the federal money here. We speak of the investment in 300 billion, considering that the city budget is 30.


-          It turns out, the second budget for 10 years.


-          Even more, because the biggest part of the current budget goes not to development, but is just being consumed. Only 4 billion go to the development. Here it will be 40 per year! It is a tenfold increase in development budget. It will mean that the goals, set by us in the strategy for 2025-2030 years, will be achieved by 2020. That will be a city with two-three million people. Now we are in the grip of children's shoes, lagging infrastructure. Look whats happening on the streets: asphalt cannot stand, it is milled by the spikes. This is limit. But in any case Ekaterinburg will be an inter-regional development center. There is transport corridor London Berlin Tokyo. The containers go now a circuitous route for two, two and a half months, and they cost two $2500. If we do it through the Trans-Siberian Railway, through us, it will be two weeks and $1000-1500. There is China below us, with the stream of Chinese goods to Europe; it is more convenient for them to adjoin the Trans-Siberian Railway here. Ekaterinburg becomes a dry port.


-          And although many giggle, less in the recent time, - this is the union of Ekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk. We have Trans-Siberian Railway; they have the federal highway M5. The transport terminal will appear to the south of Yekaterinburg, a huge airport - further to the south, like the one in Frankfurt am Main. Our airport does not stand up; it will not be able to serve 60 million passengers a year.


-          Now the suburbs of Yekaterinburg have grown by 70 km to the south, and Chelyabinsk to the north at the same distance. There is 70 km of the undeveloped space between us. If we place all these objects there, the cities will unite. The effective demand of the two cities is uniting too; as a result we have the synergetic effect. Plus dont forget about Tyumen north. But to get this we need the sane state solutions. We should not be afraid to make decisions and implement them. And everything will be all right.


-          What if there will be no EXPO? If there will be no adequate policy? Dont you feel that the city has pressed against a ceiling and loses people, in spite of two thousand miles to Moscow and five to Europe?


-          Certainly I feel it. We have the program The Gifted Children. Some time I ask the chiefs in the education sphere: How do you do?


-          - Everything is fine, - They answer. Weve got many talented children, who study there and there, who receive the additional education, the prizes in various competitions. But I wonder how many of them stay in Ekaterinburg after finishing the school? Only fifty percent stay. That's what is scaring.


-          Can we seriously hope with any success of the city to create here such comfortable environment, that given the current mobility and fluidity, the brains will remain here?


-          It is a huge mistake to think that these people need a comfort first of all. Here we are powerless to compete, by the way, since we will never be able to build California with palm trees and ocean. But does Perelman (brilliant Russian mathematician) need a comfort? Whether it was necessary to those who created the Bomb? Or was a comfort at Baikonur, where people lived in tents? People need a Task, big and interesting Task and - the conditions for the development.


My personal passion is the creation of the Museum of Technology in the city. I want the pioneers could come and see firsthand the technical evolution, the path that was passed, for example, to present "I-Pad" from the three rooms size computer. It would be great if they were able to touch everything with their own hands, and let there will be some workshops nearby.

There was a chance to do that, by the way, when the fate of the exhibition on the Gromova Street was solving. But it was given to the farmers' market. Yes, it is very important to buy cheap potatoes.


The private opinion

Evgeny Sharovarin, producer of the technological businesses:

-          One of the main competitive advantages of our city, which people are often forgetting about, is its compactness. The local elites are able to look at each others eyes. There is no problem to meet and talk. No matter how developed telecommunications are, through them we can only discuss some issues. Decisions are made only in personal communication.

I see a logical development of the city as an IT cluster. It is a manifested trend already: based on the developments of Soviet times, on the large number of talented people with good technical education, on the local effective demand, the businesses in the field of information technology and Internet have developed and made the huge turnover in the city.

I see good prospects for high-tech agriculture. Yes, it is quite possible in our climate. The main thing is that in large metropolitan the stratum of educated, cultural, and at the same time, wealthy people who are willing to pay for quality, "clean, fresh food, is really large. And I think Ekaterinburg will go through the way of merging with Chelyabinsk.



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