A bill on expansion of the Arctic zone has been approved
On 18 January, state officials gave a green light to the bill on expanding the borders of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation (AZRF). Now, the AZRF will include plus two districts of the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area, namely, Berezovsky and Beloyarsky.
Government officials believe that the decision help possibly create favourable conditions for the development and exploration of municipal areas of the autonomous area and the Arctic zone as a whole.
So far, the AZRF included the Murmansk Region, the Nenets, Chukotka and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Districts, as well as parts of Karelia, Komi, Yakutia, Krasnoyarsk Territory and Arkhangelsk Region.
A few years ago, Russia adopted a broad package of economic incentives for the development of its Arctic zone. Businesses running in northernmost territories can enjoy a wide range of economic benefits and allowances. The Development Strategy for the AZRF was also adopted. The strategy envisages stimulating the construction of new industries in the regions belonging to the Arctic zone, intensifying the geological study of subsurface resources, and developing new mineral deposits. In addition, the Arctic has a special economic regime for private investment in the creation of new production facilities and the modernisation of existing ones. The Development Strategy for the AZRF also implies significant improvements in all areas of the social life of citizens and the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage and languages of indigenous peoples. Accordingly, the inclusion of the territory in the AZRF leads to a number of preferences that can significantly simplify the task of local authorities.
However, some experts doubt if enlargement of AZRF with two districts is feasible enough. Russia is known for its harsh climate. Many of its sparsely populated areas are rich in mineral resources. The territories of 24 constituent entities of the Russian Federation have already been included in a List of Regions of the Far North and Equivalent Status Territories… and the territories included in the AZRF are also included in the above List.
Thus, the question arises to what point it is possible to expand the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation without blurring the concepts of "territories of the Far North" and "Arctic zone"?