Arkhangelsk Oblast

Arkhangelsk Oblast
   / Archangel
   An administrative region of the Russian Federation. Part of the Northwestern Federal District and the Northern Economic Region, Archangel shares a border with Kareliya, Vologda, Kirov, Komi, and Yamaliya; it administers Nenetsiya (which it also borders), as well as the Arctic islands of Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya. The region, originally named Dvina Land, lies on the White, Barents, and Kara seas. It has a population of 1.3 million and covers 587,400 square kilometers.
   The regional capital Arkhangelsk (Archangel) served as Russia’s principal seaport until the country gained access to the Baltic Sea. Archangel was also the site of the Anglo-American invasion of Soviet Russia during the Russian Civil War. Once icebound during the winter, ice-breakers now enable year-round shipping and fishing from the port. The oblast’s geography is divided between taiga and forests of pine, fir, larch, aspen, and birch. The regional economy is focused on agriculture, timber, and mineral extraction (diamonds, bauxite, oil, and natural gas); upward of 50 percent of the industrial labor force is engaged in the forestry sector. The region includes a number of important naval installations and is also the site of the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The oblast is also an important site of Russia’s military-industrial complex.
   Ethnic Russians make up 94 percent of the population, with Belarusians and Nenets being the next largest groups, respectively. The current governor is Ilya Mikhalchuk, appointed by Vladimir Putin on 11 April 2008. Mikhalchuk, a member of the United Russia party, was previously the mayor of the Russian Far East city of Yakutsk, and is known for his confrontations with the governor of Sakha. His administration’s stated goals include stamping out illegal logging and improving the region’s relationship with Gazprom. He replaced the last popularly elected governor, Nikolay Kiselyov, the former director of a dairy plant. Kiselyov, who was elected governor in 2004, failed to secure Putin’s support for another term and became one of the first governors to suffer from the 2004-2005 electoral reforms. Prior to Kiselyov, the region was run by two-term governor Anatoly Yefremov. During his tenure, Yefremov took over direct rule of the Solovetsky Island during a period of economic crisis in 1999 and began construction of a new nuclear energy plant on Novaya Zemlya.
   On 1 January 2008, Archangel assumed greater control of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (AOk), including unification of taxation, though Nenetsiya remains a federal subject of the Russian Federation. Agreements on taxation and power sharing have proved controversial, with officials in Nenetsiya being reluctant to abandon control of lucrative natural resources in the polar region. A merger of the two units remains a distinct possibility; consolidation is strongly backed by federal authorities, who are seeking to streamline centerperiphery relations, and Lukoil, which has had stormy relations with the leadership of the Nenets AOk.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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