Kurgan Oblast

Kurgan Oblast
   An administrative region of the Russian Federation. Part of the Urals Federal District and Economic Region, Kostroma is often called the “gateway to Siberia” due to its use as a rail junction for European and Asiatic Russia. The oblast is internally bordered by Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, and Tyumen, and shares an international border with Kazakhstan. The regional topography is defined by forests and steppes with numerous lakes. Kurgan Oblast’s most important waterway is the Tobol River, which flows from Kazakhstan’s Qostanay region (also spelled as Kostanai) through the administrative capital of Kurgan, before joining the Irtysh River.
   With a warm, moist climate, the region functions as the key agricultural center for the Urals region, with over 60 percent of its territory being arable. In addition to agriculture, the oblast’s industries include mechanical engineering, pharmaceuticals, electricity generation, and manufacturing of building materials. In 2006, 600 million tons of oil reserves were located. The region is 71,000 square kilometers and has a population of approximately 1 million inhabitants. Ethnic Russians account for more than 90 percent of the population, with small minorities of Tatars, Bashkirs, Kazakhs, and Ukrainians.
   The region was a reliable supporter of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) in the 1990s, with some support shown for Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party of Russia as well. In 1996, the KPRF candidate Oleg Bogomolov won the gubernatorial election in the oblast. He was reelected in 2000 and 2004. In the last election, he switched to Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party; despite having the Kremlin’s backing, he only narrowly escaped defeat by Yevgeny Sobakin, a candidate of the liberal Union of Right Forces. His weakness was reflective of the region’s worsening economic plight during a period of overall growth in Russia. In the late 1990s, Bogomolov took an active role in trying to resolve the diplomatic standoff between Abkhazia and Georgia. He has also established close contacts with other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States including Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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