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More on Putin’s Plans at the Eastern Economic Forum

Sept. 13, 2018 (EIRNS)—Russian President Vladimir Putin’s address at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok which ended today, raises some interesting questions. The EEF was held on Russky Island, which had a population of just 5,360 in 2010. Russky Island is home to the Far Eastern Federal University and the southern span of the Russky Bridge, the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge, connecting the island to the mainland portion of Vladivostok. It is clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to repeat here a version of what he did in 2014 with the city of Sochi on the Black Sea, near the other end of Russia’s vast expense. Then, Russians were shocked that it had cost $50 billion to host the Olympics at that site, but Putin said that it would ultimately profit Sochi and Russia, and it has—as even the Washington Post has admitted. The investments have enabled Sochi to become a year-round resort, rather than just a summer retreat. The city had 6.5 million people visit there in 2017.

Putin intends to leverage the Eastern Economic Forum to make Vladivostok, and particularly Russky Island, into a major science and technology center for all of Northeast Asia. (Northeast Asian cooperation and co-development was a strong theme of the Chinese, South and North Korean and Japanese representatives at the Vladivostok forum.)

President Putin said in his plenary address:

“We are meeting here on Russky Island at the Far Eastern Federal University, where we intend to start a world-class education and research center and develop it further. This includes, of course, construction of a technology park and a mega-science research installation that will allow solving completely new fundamental science and applied science tasks in pharmaceuticals, materials science and other spheres.

“I believe our major companies and corporations involved in Far Eastern projects, such as Rosneft, Gazprom, Rosatom and Roscosmos, aviation industry companies and others, should build their engineering facilities, research and development centers on Russky Island. The government and the top management of these corporations should consider this as direct instructions.”

More broadly, Putin said that Russia’s Far East, which has been a backwater, now has a “new role” as “the driving force of the national economy, innovations and culture,” which “will continue to expand in the years to come.” Improvements in the quality of life will enable a region which has been losing population, to stabilize and begin to grow.

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