WORLDPOST
11/17/2010 12:37 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Russia Contemplates Major Population Redistribution: Report

The Kremlin is contemplating a major geographical redistribution of its population structure that would concentrate the majority of its citizens in urban centers instead of being scattered across the country.

According to RTT News, President Dmitry Medvedev could announce the new plan, said to be in line with his goal of modernizing the nation's economy, as early as next month. The daily Vedomosti newspaper leaked details of the new plans, which would re-locate much of Russia's 141 million population into just 20 urban centers with solid access to natural resources such as oil and gas, the Telegraph is reporting.

The new plan would also address some long-standing absurdities in Russian geography. With a population of just 160 people, Gorenskoe is referred to as a town, while Kanevskoe in south Russia calls itself a village, despite nearly 50,000 inhabitants. Many of the smaller settlements, whose industry is often limited to one or two factories, are thought to be no longer economically viable.

"Changing the map of the country is a necessary but not simple task which needs to be done very carefully as any overreaction could lead to a fight for urban resources," a government official is quoted by the AFP as saying. If enforced, the redistribution plan could be the largest of its kind since Josef Stalin's forced deportations of entire nationalities in the 1940s, and as the AFP notes, the process could be prompted by the overall decline in Russia's population.