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Humanitarian sciences in Siberia

2014 year, number 4

ROADS OF LIFE IN THE JAWS OF COLD

V.A. Lamin, Ya.A. Kuznetsova
Institut jf Yistory of the Siberian Brangh of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IH SB RAS), Russia, 630090 Novosibirsk, Acad. Nikolaev str., 8
Keywords: projects, development of the North, Russia, railway construction, concession policy

Abstract

The paper presents two opposing views on evaluation of economic potential of the North and prospects of its development shared by representatives of political elite, metropolitan and Siberian business communities in the late XIX - early XX centuries. This period of history was marked not only by fundamental internal transformations in the country, destruction of the Russian empire’s foundations and establishment of Soviet power, but also by a difficult foreign policy situation caused by the Russo-Japanese War and World War I. Having analysed various ideas, initiatives, plans and undertakings in regard to the Russian Arctic development the authors showed that the government remained passive and estranged itself from the problems of Northern territories that could be explained not only by the lack of funds and resources along with harsh climatic conditions, but also by the short-sightedness of administrators and policy makers. Thoughout most of the XIX century the Russian North remained economically neglected. Mechanisms preventing its economic development acted throughout the entire territory of the country. Local administration being in the custody of the central government supported its policy and in every possible way interfered with the attempts and initiatives of the Siberian entrepreneurs and public figures who were ready to invest millions of roubles in the projects of transportation and economic development of the North. Great importance in these projects was given to developing the network of railway communications. Its lines were to be built to the Murmansk Coast - the future ocean port opening to Russia a gate to the transoceanic trade links. However, private funds were inscufficent for the large-scale development of the Northern territories. In the 1920s the estabishment of Soviet power and concentration of all financial resources of the country gave a real chance for implementation of projects of railroads and sea ports construction not only along the Murmansk Coast but in the Far East as well.