Krasnoyarsk Krai

Krasnoyarsk Krai
   An administrative province of the Russian Federation. Covering over 2.3 million square kilometers, Krasnoyarsk is the second-largest federal subject in Russia (after Sakha) and the country’s largest krai. Approximately the same size as Algeria or the Democratic Republic of Congo, Krasnoyarsk occupies one-tenth of Russia’s landmass. The province, which includes the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, stretches across central Siberia from the Kara and Laptev seas to the Sayan Mountains in the south. It is bordered by Sakha, Irkutsk, Tuva, Khakasiya, Kemerovo, Tomsk, Khantiya-Mansiya, and Yamaliya, and includes the formerly autonomous okrugs (AOk) of Evenkiya and Taymyriya. During the Soviet era, it also administered Khakasiya as an AOk. The regional geography includes ice deserts and tundra in the extreme north, taiga in its vast middle band, and temperate forests and steppe in the south. Its main geographic features include the Byrranga Mountains in the Taymyr Peninsula, the Central Siberian Plateau, much of the Yenisei River system, and the Sayan Mountains.
   The krai’s population is slightly less than 3 million, making it one of Russia’s most sparsely populated regions (one-quarter of the national average). Ethnic Russians dominate the region’s multiethnic population, comprising nearly 90 percent of its inhabitants. In their okrug, Evenks are 21 percent of the population, while in Taymyriya, the two titular groups—the Dolgans and Nenets—make up 14 percent and 8 percent of the population, respectively. The krai is also home to a number of other indigenous peoples of the north, including the Kets, Nganasans, Chulyms, and Enets.
   Much of the region was closed to foreigners during the Soviet era due to the location of nuclear and defense installations, excepting the areas transversed by the Trans-Siberian Railway. The plutoniumproducing city of Zheleznogorsk, previously known as Krasnoyarsk26, effectively remains closed today, as a visit requires government authorization. On 30 June 1908, the region witnessed the Tunguska Event, a theorized midair meteoric explosion that leveled 80 million trees. There is still speculation about the exact cause of the event, which was equivalent to a nuclear explosion.
   Despite its harsh climate and vast size, Krasnoyarsk has the capacity to develop into one of Russia’s richest regions. After a period of economic decline in the 1990s, the regional economy rebounded and today is one of Russia’s top 20 regions in overall economic terms, performing even higher in terms of investments and exports. More than two-thirds of commodities exchange is conducted with foreign partners. The principal industry is nonferrous metallurgy, which accounts for nearly three-fourths of economic output. Bauxite, nickel, gold, palladium, platinum, copper, cobalt, zinc, and iron ore are all found in abundance.
   The region houses the key mining operation of one of Russia’s largest transnational corporations, Norilsk Nickel, which accounts for more than 1 percent of Russia’s gross national product. Norilsk Nickel’s regional operations are centered in Norilsk, one of the world’s ten most polluted cities. The city, though geographically part of Taymyriya, was under the direct control of the krai prior to the Taymyr AOk’s subordination to Krasnoyarsk. Norilsk is the world’s second-largest city above the Arctic Circle (after Murmansk) and the northernmost city of more than 100,000 residents. The krai is also home to Krasnoyarsk Aluminum, which operates the world’s secondlargest aluminum smelter (after the facility in Bratsk, Irkutsk). Aluminum smelting in the region has produced extensive environmental degredation and pollution across the Arctic Circle, particularly damaging to Norway’s ecosystem.
   In addition to mining and smelting, power (particularly hydroelectric) generation is also an economic driver in the region. While much smaller in terms of percentage of economic output, forestry and agriculture are also important. The region is home to a significant portion of Russia’s fur industry, particularly Arctic fox, sable, and squirrel. As a result of its financial independence, the krai possesses significant control over its own affairs at the budgetary level and in regard to interregional and international commercial relations. Valery Zubov, a strong supporter of Boris Yeltsin, became the region’s first popularly elected governor in 1992. Due to a poor record in terms of paying wages, he became quite unpopular in the mid-1990s. In 1998, Zubov was unseated by the nationally known figure General Aleksandr Lebed, who had previously served as commander of the 14th Army in the War of Transnistria and had negotiated the Khasav-Yurt Accord. Lebed was backed by the oligarch Boris Berezovsky and the head of Krasnoyarsk Aluminum, Anatoly Bykov, though he later fell out with both supporters. Relations with Bykov were particularly problematic after the magnate was accused and later convicted of a murder plot against a business associate (he received a six-and-a-half-year suspended sentence). Despite Lebed’s international stature, he proved to be a rather lackluster governor, often bickering with the region’s economic elites. In 2002, Lebed’s helicopter crashed in the Sayan Mountains under somewhat controversial circumstances.
   He was replaced by former Norilsk Nickel director Aleksandr Khloponin, who had won the governorship of Taymyriya only a year earlier, defeating the longtime incumbent Gennady Nedelin. The 2002 gubernatorial election, which proved to be one of Russia’s most expensive and divisive, pitted the region’s two largest taxpayers— Norilsk Nickel and Russian Aluminum—against one another, as the latter had thrown its support behind the chairman of the regional legislature, Aleksandr Uss. The results of the runoff election were initially set aside due to irregularities; however, Khloponin’s victory was later sanctioned by the courts (shortly after he was appointed acting governor by Vladimir Putin). Once in office, Khloponin oversaw Krasnoyarsk’s consolidation of Evenkiya and Taymyriya, a goal that had previously been endorsed by Lebed and the Kremlin. In accordance with the results of the 2005 referendum on merging of the three federal subjects, the Evenk and Taymyr Autonomous Okrugs were downgraded from federal subjects to autonomous districts of Krasnoyarsk Krai on 1 January 2007. In Krasnoyarsk proper, 93 percent supported the merger, with 7 percent voting against it; in Evenkiya, 79 percent of registered voters gave their support, while 20 percent voted against consolidation; in Taymyriya, the poll was 70 percent against and 30 percent in favor. In 2007, Putin reappointed Khloponin to his post as regional governor; later that year, rumors surfaced that he was being considered to succeed the outgoing president.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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