Far East crisis makes people flee the region

The economic development of Russia's Far East has been in the spotlight most of the week, following Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov's visit there. Poor infrastructure, lack of investment, and bad management are the main problems. The lack of human resources

Russia's Far Eastern Federal District is located in the extreme east of the country, between Siberia and the Pacific Ocean.

It’s one of the most sparsely populated areas in the world.

Covering 6.2 million square kilometers – over a third of Russia's total area – and includes nine regions. 6.5 million people live in the district, which means slightly more than one person per square kilometer.  

Moreover, in the last 15 years its population has dropped by 14%.  

Economic instability, poor career prospects and a lack of housing force native inhabitants out, into neighbouring regions.

“We must bring living conditions up to the average Russian level to avoid this mass migration of people to other regions. At the moment, Russia's well-developed regions have gross regional product per capita at 53 times that of developing ones – this is unacceptable in all other countries,” Dmitry Kozak, Regional Development Minister, said.  

To keep people at home the region needs a lot of investment. And there's no shortage of ideas regarding where to invest, since the area is rich in natural resources – oil, gas, diamonds, timber, coal and seafood.
Nevertheless, currently only 4% of the output produced in the Far East is used locally, with 50% exported to China.  Raw products dominate the export market, bringing in less revenue than processed goods would.

The electric power industry is also a major area for technical development. The main sources of energy are still power stations that use fuels not locally sourced, while the region itself has great potential for hydro electricity power.

The newly adopted programme for developing the region requires more than $US 20 billion up to 2013 – but this looks like a drop in the ocean for the huge territory, with private investment remaining the last hope.