Russians In 70 Percent Of Their Country’s Cities Feel They Must ‘Either Leave Or Die’ – OpEd


Residents of 70 percent of the cities of the Russian Federation, both those that are classified as company towns whose basic industry has disappeared and others that are not, now feel that they face the choice to “either leave or die” because there are no prospects for work, according to Mariya Gunko, a geographer at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. 

Her conclusion, offered in a recent lecture (, has prompted the Seven by Seven regional news outlet to examine one such city, Kolpashevo in Tomsk Oblast, in a richly detailed and heavily illustrated 5700-word article (

Their conversations will residents of that once vibrant city far from civilization confirm Gunko’s findings and suggest that the forces that are usually assumed to be confined to company towns alone are now hitting an increasing share of Russia’s more than 1100 cities. To the extent they are, the dying out of much of Russia and the growth of its megalopolises isn’t going to stop. 

And that in turn means that the current Russian government programs to help company towns are not only inadequate for those places but need to be extended to a large share of Russia’s small and mid-sized cities that have never been included in the category of “company towns.”

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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