‘In Siberia, Stalin’s Logistics System No Longer Functions But There is No Replacement’
January 28 – A recent series of aircraft crashes both military and civilian in
Siberia have thrown into high relief a trend few want to acknowledge: the
logistical system including planes, airfields, and hospitals that existed there
in Soviet times has not been replaced even though Moscow relies on the region’s
natural resources for its wealth.
Tarasov of “Novaya gazeta” describes some of these accidents which he says are
the product of the collapse of the system that had been in place earlier to
deal with the special challenges of harsh weather conditions and enormous
distances in Russia’s Far North (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/01/27/71299-starye-krylya-nesut-smert).
when planes crash because there are no longer the numerous airfields there
were, the number of experienced pilots and weather-capable aircraft has
declined, and there are no hospitals nearby to treat those wounded, he says,
Russians die because even the military often lacks the ability to get the
victims immediate help or even to fly them out to faraway facilities.
Tarasov sums up his findings in the title of his article, “Old Wings Bring
Soviet times, as a result of competition with the West, Moscow built “hundreds
of airports” in Krasnoyarsk Kray, Irkutsk Oblast and Sakha.” From there one
could fly everywhere in the USSR, including Moscow and Leningrad. It build
workhorse planes that could function in bad weather. And it supported hospitals
and medical points.
Tarasov says, almost all that infrastructure has disappeared even though the
central government is more dependent on extracting wealth from the North than it
was.“What would have happened,” he says
pilots ask, “if in late Soviet times, flights were as restricted as they are
old debate between the Slavophiles and the Westernizers about whether Russia’s
size is a source of strength or a burden producing weakness continues in a new
form, the commentator says. Now, the debate is between those in Moscow who come
up with pie in the sky plans like a northern railway and a tunnel to Alaska and
those who say “there is no life” beyond “the Moscow city ring/the Volga/the
major reason for this new debate, Tarasov continues, is that those in the
center spin tales rather than function “as a capital of a real Federation, one
in which donor regions could be concerned about themselves” and their
populations rather than having to hand over all the money to Moscow and see
their own infrastructure disappear.
too many in the past and again now act as if Moscow can continue to ignore the
needs of the people who live and work in the Far North and other regions of the
country, he points out, but concludes that whether Moscow likes it or not, “Russia
is fated to deal with these spaces and without them, it will lose itself.”