A Soviet Left Over: Single Industry City a Monotown…

eggs-in-one-basketIn the 8 years that I have been studying Russia and looking at the strengths and weaknesses of Russia. I have found many strengths, but I have also found many weaknesses that simply have to be changed. One of these leftover weaknesses from the Soviet times are cities that only had one means of employment or better yet, one means of livelihood…

It seems that at one time the model of Soviet infrastructure was geared toward building a city that only made one thing. They are now called monotowns: A monotown (from Russian моногород, monogorod; gorod=”town”) is a town whose economy is dominated by a single industry or company. This has caused an issue that is not easily ratified and while the Russian government tries to help these cities by tax breaks and other support. The cities that produce single items that really are no longer in demand are dying a painful death…

As Sveta and I travel Russia we have seen these villages, towns and or cities and while it makes for an interesting tour to walk around these cities and see what life was like in the Soviet times. These cities are crumbling and the people just hang on or leave…

Leaving is probably the number one thing that the occupants do and you can not blame them…

Very simple examples of villages that are based on this concept are villages near our tiny Russian Village. You have heard me talk about the Fish Village (If you read the blog!) I also have mentioned the Lumber Village. These villages have only one industry and that industry supports the whole village. There is no other means of work, support or life. You either work in the Fish Village in the fish ponds or you don’t work at all. In the Lumber Village you drive logging trucks or you saw lumber…

The population of these villages are stable as the main business is. The Fish Farm does well and so the Fish Village is a thriving small village that has a good life for its people. They have running water, electricity and sewers. They also have nice flats and such. The Lumber Village is not so good. It is mostly empty. No running water and electricity is marginal at best and since there is no way to make a living, the people move on to the bigger cities and hope for the best. This is a very simple look at the issue…

One of the things that happen is a perfect example of why I chose these two villages to talk about. The Fish Village has built its own lumber saw mill. The Lumber Village has lost a thriving account due to people in the Fish Village trying to self sustain. The Fish Village uses a lots of lumber year around and now they save a lot of money by sawing their own and they even sell it to anyone that wants it. This is an example of a town that will survive against a town that will be dead in a few more years…

The real problems come when the big cities such as the city called Tolyatti, which has a population of around 700,000. It is home to the large AvtoVAZ factory, which employes about 110,000 people. AvtoVAZ is Russia’s largest car maker, accounting for 1% of the country’s GDP. This city would die a fast death if AvtoVAZ folded its doors. The city was built strictly for the purpose of building vehicles and nothing else. While this city has many other jobs available, There is nothing to replace the auto manufacturer and since AvtoVAZ does okay, so does the city. There is no back up to keep these cities afloat after the industry dies…

The diversification of the economy in Tolatti is being worked on at this moment, but it has a long way to go. This is a major issue in all of Russia…

Why even the city that Sveta and I live in called Korolyov or Korolev. It is and was built strictly as an space industrial city in Moscow Oblast, Russia. It also is well known as the cradle of Soviet and Russian space exploration. This is its life blood and we are lucky to live in a thriving monotown, even though it now would not be called a monotown anymore…

But this is not an issue just related to Russia or the old Soviet Union. I see this problem all over the world and watched many examples of this happen in America…

Must be human nature to put all your eggs in one basket…

Posted by Kyle Keeton
Windows to Russia…

About Кайл Китон

A survivor of six heart attacks and a brain tumor, a grumpy bear of a man, whom has declared Russia as his new and wonderful home. His wife is Russian and she puts up with this bear of a man and keeps him in line...Thank God for my sweetie and Russia...Кайл Китон