DAVOS, January 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s capital city should be moved from Moscow to Siberia if the authorities are serious about developing the country’s eastern regions, aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska said Thursday.
“If we really want to develop Siberia, people who are present here today, including the governors, must move the capital to Siberia,” Deripaska, chief executive of Rusal, told a business lunch on the sidelines of the Davos Economic Forum.
Russia’s deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich attended the lunch, along with businessmen, regional government officials and foreign investors.
“To boost the development of southern Russia, a decision was made to host the Olympics there. The country strained [to achieve this goal], and a new cluster appeared in the south,” Deripaska said.
The billionaire businessman, whose major production assets are located beyond the Urals, said that Siberia needed a project on the same scale if the region was to develop successfully.
“Moscow has no significant value for the [surrounding] region, and we realize that keeping the capital in Moscow means corruption and excessive centralization,” Deripaska said.
The Kremlin has made development of Russia’s remote eastern regions a national priority in recent years. President Vladimir Putin created a Far East Development Ministry at the start of his third presidential term in 2012.
The government approved an investment program last year that allocated a minimum of 100 billion rubles ($3.2 billion) annually to eastern Siberia and the Far East.
The huge expanse of territory from Siberia to Russia’s Pacific coast suffers acutely from decaying infrastructure, geographic isolation, extreme weather, a declining population and uncompetitive enterprises left over from the era of Soviet central planning.