Across Russia's many landscapes, geography influences the problems people face and the solutions they are considering since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The case study St. Petersburg: Russia's Window on the West shows a capital city originally founded to link Tsarist Russia to the culture of Western Europe. Under Communist rule and isolationism, the city lost its preeminence, its name, and, in part, the strength of its economic base as a port city. Emergence of the market system has introduced serious problems into its economy, but it has also presented new opportunities for revitalization.
St. Petersburg was deliberately located and built for specific purposes based upon its particular locational advantages. The resulting functions and structures in this city illustrate the problems the Russian economy faces as it undergoes a transition from communism to a market economy where competition rewards individual initiative.
Updates to this case study include examination of how Russian lives have changed during the transition to a free market economy, with commentary by Dr. Susan Hardwick and Dr. Irina Sharkova.
The case study Vologda: Russian Farming in Flux shows us a quintessential Russia. This region of the northwest interior, which surrounds the administrative center bearing its name, is remote and rural. Many of the changes that have occurred since the collapse of the Soviet Union have not yet reached Vologda. We focus on Voldoga's dairy industry, the logical agricultural activity given the region's harsh, continental climate. Although there is evidence of entrepreneurial activity, we find an uncertain future as most farms have not privatized, investment money is scarce, markets are hard to find, and most farmers have yet to make the "mental transition" to a free market philosophy. In some ways, collective farms here operate in much the same fashion as they did under communist rule.
The update to this program includes new information about privatization of farming, the continuing function of collective farms, and how shrinking cultivation is turning Russia into an archipelago of widely spaced urban areas. Commentary by Dr. Grigory Ioffe.
Find additional resources, including primary source materials, interactives, and downloadable print materials, at: http://www.learner.org/series/powerofplace/page7.html