Rapid growth has spread from Moscow to the regions — which are seeing fast growth typical when local economies benefit from 'technological generational leapfrogging' — i.e. adopting the latest technical advancements, skipping earlier stages of development.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
The remarkable pace of development in Russian regions is seen in this profile of Kursk, which is in the heart of Russia's Black Belt agriculture region, about 250 miles south of Moscow.
10 years ago it was a forgotten backwater, poor without any prospects. Now there are impressive achievements across a range of areas — first of all, in agriculture, which is booming everywhere in this super-fertile region, but also hi-tech, tourism, academia and manufacturing.
Kursk is also famous for being the location of the largest tank battle in history, the legendary 'Battle of Kursk' in 1943, involving 8000 tanks and 3 million men. This video features a museum located on the fields of battle, an historic reproduction site, with bunkers and panoramic scenes of the battle. There are even specialized tours of the battlefields, some lasting 3 days.
Russia Insider is featuring a series of profiles of Russian regional centers, which you can find here.
The central region of Russia that could match the Urals in both industry and science. The Kursk Oblast is also experiencing investment and development. What does the birthplace of the famous Kursk Nightingale look like? How does it live and prosper? And how can it surprise us?
Anton Lyadov reporting.
"Launch approved." Seconds before launch, no room for error. A couple centimeters to the side and the satellite will collide with the station. The affectionate name "Tanyusha," named after its nano-size, YuSGU university and its patron Tatiana. The unique system that's now orbiting the Earth at 28,000 km/h was developed here in the Kursk Oblast. Thanks to the new satellites, the navigation systems that we use every day can achieve new levels of precision.
"The satellite will greatly improve the precision of navigation systems"
A giant scoop arm is loading piles of iron ore in the quarry of the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly. Nowhere in the world is there more iron ore than here. The plant produces 11 million tons of iron per year. That's the amount needed to produce 80,000 kilometers of rail to envelop the Earth twice over.
The ore is ground into a powder which is then compressed into iron balls and then goes into the furnace.
Over the years, the ore has become harder to mine. Previously there were boulders with almost 60% iron content. Now it has to be produced from the small grains of dust in the ore.
"We now have to mine and concentrate the low-grade ore. The reserves are much bigger now though. We are stocked for the next 300 years."
Another large-scale achievement of the Kursk Oblast is that it hosts the only plant in Eurasia that produces snowmobile tracks. American and European racers previously bought them only in Canada. Now they are doing mad tricks riding on Russian tracks.
Kalle KJ Johansson:
"This is a new snowmobile with composite tracks. It's easy to steer and you can feel its power. Everything is first-class. If you ever get stuck, just accelerate until it pulls you out."
The plant is unique. They've asked us not to film the equipment because the competition's too high.
Sergey Degtyarev, CEO of ZAO NPO Komposit:
"We started with 100 tracks, today, we ship 3,000. We are planning to increase our capacity to 5-6 thousand in the next year. The next step is the assembly line."
The Russian assembly lines are gradually retreating from using American components. The Aviaavtomatika plant produces the so-called "black boxes." Its engineers have developed a unique chemical compound. It's used to make the most important part of the recorders — the protective housing.
The black boxes are tested with fire like this. They must withstand the temperature of 1100 degrees Celsius. That means that even if fuel tanks explode next to the recorder the information will remain intact.
Andrey Mayorov, chief designer of AO Aviaavtomatika:
"We are currently working on replacing the foreign-made boxes with our own on civil aircraft, Superjets. And trying to do that with the MC-21 as well. Our production output won't depend on import deliveries."
Besides that, the plant produces components for the weapon control systems that will replace the foreign ones. Kursk Oblast knows how important it is to be industrially self-reliant. 74 years ago this land witnessed the largest tank battle in human history.
In the early hours of July 5th, 1943, a German identification prisoner is brought here. He says that Hitler is going to attack at 3 a.m. — in an hour. Rokossovsky decides to attack first and gives his orders by phone. As a result, the Germans failed to execute a surprise attack.
Petr Mikhin, WWII veteran:
"The Germans managed to create a 35 km breach in our defenses and then encountered new tanks and new ditches."
The reconstruction of the city began even before the war was over. By 1944, the city once again had a working cinema.
During the last sixteen years, agricultural output has significantly increased. Compared to the early 2000s, the production of sugar beet has grown five times. Traditions are still respected. The trendy brown sugar is everywhere: from cafes to shops. But it's just a marketing trick. In fact, it doesn’t have any additional healthy components. The whiter the sugar the higher the quality. This year the output of the Kursk Oblast is huge. One in ten kilograms of Russian sugar comes from the Kursk Oblast.
Worker in the factory:
"We are so sweet when we walk out of the drier. Everyone is jealous."
Kursk Oblast has the sixth largest grain output in Russia.
Alexander Mikhailov, governor of Kursk Oblast:
"This year we've produced almost 5.2 tons of grain. We are exporting our agricultural products and supply it to our partner-regions. Our revenue is more than 60 billion rubles. It's 2.8 times higher than the cost of all our imports."
In order to supply regions with energy, the Kursk Oblast is building new "AES-2" power plants, meeting all safety requirements. This power plant produces 100 million kilowatt hours per day. This way it not only supplies Kursk and the Black Earth Region, but also continues to feed Ukraine.
The Kursk Oblast is still ready to accommodate Ukrainian refugees. Thousands of pilgrims arrive here to visit the Korennaya Hermitage, one of the oldest monasteries in the region.
The interior, almost entirely wooden, was made by monks themselves. No laptops or TVs, of course. Here's a bed, a table, a candle on the table, and the Holy Scriptures.
Kursk Oblast has a lot of plans for the future. One of the main plans includes overcoming the budget deficit by 2020.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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