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Unit Four: The Russian Domain

Nate Hulse

1. Compare the climate, vegetation, and agricultural conditions of Russia's European west with
those of Siberia and the Russian Far East.

A: Russia’s European west has a very diverse physical setting. It exhibits seasonal temperature
extremes, its short growing season limits agricultural opportunities, except for subtropical zone
near the Black Sea, that region is dominated by a continental climate. Meanwhile, Russia’s far
east has fertile river valleys. It also experiences some extremes in the Siberian interior climate
and the seasonal monsoon of East Asia.

2. Describe some of the high environmental costs of industrialization within the Russian domain.

A: Inside the Russian domain, some of the world’s most severe environmental degradation has
occurred. Along with seven decades of Soviet industrialization, came careless mining, oil
drilling, nuclear testing, degradation of Siberian forests. Just about two-thirds of the Russian
population lives inside an environment that is harmful to their health.

3. Discuss how major river and rail corridors have shaped the geography of population and
economic development in the region. Provide specific examples.

A: River and rail corridors have been key to Russia’s development. An example of river
development would be some of the regions largest cities, industrial complexes, and most
productive farms in the European core being located along shores of the Baltic Sea and along
the Volga River. Rail development could be shown with two separate zones of settlement, one
being along the Trans-Siberian Railroad in Omsk, Ikutsk, and Vladivostok, and two smaller
settlements along the Baikal-Amaur Mainline Railroad.

4. Contrast Soviet and post-Soviet migration patterns within the Russian domain, and discuss
the changing forces at work.

A: Under Soviet rule, eastward movement was accelerated with the construction of the Trans-
Siberian railroad. With that, attractive agricultural opportunities opened up, and some political
freedoms were sought after, pushing people east. Another factor at play was Russification,
being the resettling of Russians into non-Russian portions of the Soviet Union, as Russians
were given economic and political incentives to resettle. In post-soviet era, reversal of
Russification; newly independent non-Russian countries imposed language and citizenship
requirements—many Russians returned to Russia; since 2005 Russian government promoted
repatriation program for ethnic Russians worldwide; Russia also experiencing growing
immigrant population (many illegal)—increasingly from Central Asia.

5. Describe some of the major land-use zones in the modern Russian city, and suggest why it is
important to understand the impact of Soviet-era planning within such settings.
A: Inside the Russian City: large Russian cities possess core area, usually with superior
transportation connections; largest of cities feature extensive public spaces, monumental
architecture; distinctive pattern of circular land-use zones.

Mikrorayons—large, Soviet-era housing projects, typically composed of massed blocks of


standardized apartment buildings

Dacha—elite cottage communities, found especially on Moscow's urban fringe

6. What were the key phases of colonial expansion during the rise of the Russian Empire, and
how did each enlarge the reach of the Russian state?

A: National autonomy within republics did not exist. The Soviet state was increasingly
centralized, dominated by strong leaders such as Joseph Stalin. During the Stalin period,
likewise witnessed geographic expansion of Soviet domination into Eastern Europe, this period
marked the global Cold War.

7. What are some of the key ethnic minority groups within Russia and the neighboring states,
and how have they been recognized in the region's geopolitical structure?

A: Geopolitical administrative divisions, 15 'union republics' composed of non-Russian citizens


were demarcated. Theoretically each republic retained political autonomy, but in practice, the
Soviet Union was a centralized state controlled from Moscow. Autonomous areas, ethnic
homelands located in the interior of the Soviet Union. Autonomy within these 'autonomous
republics' was also fictitious.

8. Describe how centralized planning created a new economic geography across the former
Soviet Union. What is its lasting impact?

A: Beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, imposition of centralized economic planning, state-
controlled production targets and industrial output, emphasized heavy, basic industries. That
shifted agriculture into large-scale collectives and state-controlled farms. Basic infrastructure
such as roads, rail lines, canals, dams, communication networks originated during this period to
facilitate industry. Problems arose during the 1970s and 1980s, with agriculture and
manufacturing becoming inefficient.

9. Briefly summarize the key strengths and weaknesses of the post-Soviet Russian economy
and suggest how globalization has shaped its evolution.

A: The major strength of the Russian economy lay in its petroleum industry; it is the world's
largest exporter of gas and the world's second largest exporter of oil. However, the country's
economy remains plagued by corruption and schizophrenic government policies. The
Russian's economy is also weakened by unstable, and often changing regional relations with
its former republics.

"A lie told often enough becomes the truth."---Vladmir Lenin