APPEAL TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION
VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVICH PUTIN
"ON PUBLIC TERRITORIAL SELF-GOVERNMENT DEVELOPMENT
AND RUSSIAN FAR-AWAY AREAS REVIVAL".
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,
I have the honour to write to you on behalf of the members of the
Association for the revival of villages in the Arkhangelsk Region,
on behalf of thousands of village people who are practically
involved into the processes of revival of their native land, of
development of local self-government on their villages' level.
The last year of 2003 has been very important for all of us. First,
it was the year when a federal law "On general principles of
organizing local self-government" was adopted and thus year of a
substantial growth of the local self-government in Russia. Important
also was your Letter to the Federal Council in 2003 where you
formulated completely new approaches to the development.
Introduction of projecting so that great-scale projects might bring
serious step-by-step achievements, help develop stable democracy,
overcome economic inefficiency and poverty.
'''Double overall national output'''. The document have become our
benchmarks as well as the ideas you expressed when you spoke at
the jubilee session of the Congress of Municipal Institutions,
mainly the idea that our goal should be involving the population in
solving local problems and promoting its activity.
We think that working in these directions we have managed to
achieve some notable results. We would be happy to share these
results with you and ask some questions connected with the Russian
rural areas development, as well as to appeal for your help.
For several years we have been working on developing villages, on
overcoming poverty, on introducing small-scale businesses to support
stable democracy in the far-away regions.
Non-blackearth zone villages is the most problematic area of the
country, it is in the critical situation. Many of them ceased to be
in the sphere of real economy, and have returned to the subsistence
economy. Hopelessness and alcoholism are overwhelming. The
population here is reduced to poverty, its number diminishes.
Villages are dying away. It is impossible to predict the results of
all these circumstances because villages are not just producers of
food - they are places where nation is born and nurtured. Without
them national reproduction is impossible on the vast territory of our country.
This is why we need serious large-scale projects supported by the
state, only they can make the situation change.
Our experience shows that a very effective method of opposing the
crisis is developing the local communities' self-management,
organizing and careful raising of able local communities.
It is impossible to keep the area alive with administrative
directives "from above" only, such approach requires huge
investments. Many of the rural municipalities have small budgets and
each year they have to close something or cut financial support
of some vital institutions thus excluding a great volume of
resources from economy, from production of national output, they
are wasted and squandered. It happens everywhere and the population
is passively waits for any decisions and help from the authorities
On the contrary the situation changes crucially when some villages
manages to revive a local community which begins to treat the
problems facing their village as their own problems and can solve
them, when a village management is given to the local community
(to be precise we must speak here of co-management of the local
community (of a territorial organ of self-management) and of the
municipality, of their constant cooperation and dialogue).
Such cooperation makes a managerial model which does not require
investments but aims at finding cheap resources and effective
solutions because people understand they themselves will put them
into practice. If their corporate work is supported by professional
advisers who care for the local community and is backed with small
social investments, it will result in a very high effectiveness,
will repay the money, save budget sources, because local community
being a self-organized system has got a synergetic effect.
These are very complicated tasks but our experience shows that it
is possible to fulfil them in today's Russia.
Several years of our work in the Arkhangelsk have resulted in
appearing of several dozens initiative groups, more than thirty of
them have been given a legal status of a Territorial Organ of
Self-Management. People in far-away villages who had seemingly no
hopes for future started to believe in themselves, they united their
efforts to overcome apathy and despondency and undertake some
practical steps to change life in their native villages.
More than 50 village development projects have been realized. They
helped to solve the problems of water supply, bridge constructions,
river crossing places arrangement, houses movement and
reconstruction, they helped to save village infrastructure (first
medical aid posts, clubs, museums, small market places, sports
grounds, workshops, local cultural centres etc.), some resulted in
opening new small businesses ( like a package apiary or a new breed
sheep-hold), in solving ecological problems of the area (like river
cleaning, forest planting), some made it possible to arrange care
of the elder villagers, of the cultural heritage, of local
The economic effect is worth tens millions roubles while the sum
invested was a million and a half. It turns out it is possible to
restore a unique 18th century bell tower with the villagers' own
hands having received some thousands roubles, to build a bridge or
a water tower or a huge house, to redesign the heating system, to
make a river crossing place and to do many other things on their
own. Humane and social effect is also huge - people's activity,
their faith in future in in themselves are being restored, and as a
result our villages are revived.
We try to rely on the time-honored traditions and values of the
Russian peasants as well as on modern technologies which enables us
to restore a positive self0identity of the community, to change the
situation and peoples relationships crucially and in a short period
of time. These techniques which are so fruitful are very easy to be
dissimulated through other territories and regions of the country
We would be happy if our experience might be used for territorial
self-management development, for making life easier and better for
people in other Russian villages. Like you we believe that Russia
is not doomed to aimlessly exist in future, that our people have
talents and goodwill to make their own life happier. If they are
helped. We do hope to have your support in future developing of
the Russian far-away areas, in realization of a new project aimed
at making the village life quality better which might produce a
serious impact on the development of this sphere.
Tyurin Gleb Vladimirovich,
President of Association of the Village Revival of the Arkhangelsk Region,
Director of Institute of Social and Humanitarian Initiatives.