Zabaykalsky Krai

Zabaykalsky Krai
   / Trans-Baykal Krai
   An administrative province of the Russian Federation. Zabaykalsky Krai is part of the Siberian Federal District and the East Siberia Economic Region. It covers an area of 431,500 square kilometers, making it the 10th-largest federal subject in the Russian Federation. The province shares internal borders with the ethnic republics of Sakha and Buryatiya and the oblasts of Amur and Irkutsk. Zabaykalsky has a long international border with Mongolia, as well as with the Mongol Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China (also known as Inner Mongolia).
   Formerly known as Chita Oblast, Zabaykalsky Krai was created on 1 March 2008 as a result of the merger of Chita and Aga-Buryatiya, formerly known as the Agin-Buryat Autonomous Okrug (AOk). Aga-Buryatiya, one of three ethnic homelands of the Buryats, was downgraded from an autonomous okrug, and thus federal subject of the Russian Federation, to an okrug of the krai following an 11 March 2007 referendum on merging the political entities. In Chita Oblast, 80 percent of the electorate turned out, supporting the measure by a margin of nine to one; in Aga Buryatiya, an equal percentage of voters went to the polls, delivering an even higher margin of support for the change. The transformation of an oblast into a krai is a somewhat unorthodox move, given that the appellation “krai” is traditionally reserved for frontier regions and carries subtle imperial undertones.
   The former administrative capital of Aga Buryatiya is Aginskoye. Chita (pop. 308,000) is the current capital of the krai; it is the headquarters of the Siberian Military District and an important stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway. As a site of exile for the liberal Decembrists in the 1820s, the scene of worker demonstrations in the 1905 revolution, and the capital of the nominally independent Far Eastern Republic (1920–1922), the city has a reputation for political activism and an independent orientation. The region is also historically notable as the birthplace of the world conqueror Genghis Khan. Within Aga Buryatiya, ethnic Buryats have majority status (63 percent), while ethnic Russians represent slightly more than onethird of the total population of 72,000. In the krai as a whole, Russians make up 90 percent of the population, while Buryats are the largest minority at six percent; the total population of the krai is 1.1 million.
   Animal husbandry, particularly sheep and reindeer herding, and fur farming are important sources of local employment. Forestry, textiles, metallurgy, power generation, food processing, and fuel extraction are primary regional industries; manufacturing accounts for one-third of the regional output. A number of rare metals are found in the area around Balei, including gold, uranium, and thorium; the region suffers from a high rate of radiation-related diseases. Lead, titanium, zirconium, copper, silver, and zinc are mined in other parts of the krai.
   Shuttle commerce from China, centered in the capital, is a major component of the local economy; the SARS outbreak in 2003 led to economic disruption in the region when border crossings were closed. China is a major foreign investor in the region, though investments in the region as a whole remain comparatively low. The province is expected to achieve economic self-sufficiency sometime during the 2010s, a dramatic turnaround from its immediate postSoviet economic position.
   During the 1990s, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) placed well in regional elections. Since 1996, Ravil Geniatulin, who is of mixed Russian and Tatar parentage, has governed the region (Chita Oblast from 1996 to 2008 and all of Zabaykalsky Krai after 1 March 2008). Geniatulin formerly served as mayor of Chita; he was appointed by Boris Yeltsin to replace Boris Ivanov before being popularly elected to the post. Geniatulin presided over the region during a difficult period, particularly in terms of energy shortages and worsening environmental degradation. He is a member of the United Russia movement, and has overseen the transition of regional leadership from its radical “red-brown” bent in the 1990s to a solidly pro-Kremlin orientation, guaranteeing that Vladimir Putin would back his candidacy to become governor of the new krai in 2008. In 2009, Geniatulin pressed Dmitry Medvyedev to grant the krai the ability to create a number of special economic zones to improve the financial position of the province. He has also taken a conciliatory position on Chinese immigration, dismissing notions of “Chinese expansion” in the region and calling for the opening of a consular mission in Chita.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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  • Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai — For other uses, see Chita (disambiguation). Chita (English) Чита (Russian)    …   Wikipedia

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