World Geography and Cultures © 2012
The Region Today: Russia
Russia's shift toward a market economy in the post-Soviet era has presented a series of challenges. The country has worked to strengthen its role in world trade, increase agricultural production, and provide more jobs for its workers. Modern-day Russia has inherited the problems of shortsighted economic development during the Soviet era, which resulted in large-scale damage to the environment. It is still struggling to find a way to balance its needs for economic growth with the preservation of its environment.
The Economy Under the Soviet command economy, the government owned factories, farms, mines, and transportation systems; controlled the rate of production; and insured that most people were employed. However, law wages and the emphasis an heavy industry meant that most people could not afford the scarce consumer goods. In the 1980s Premier Mikhail Gorbachev introduced reforms that guided Russia towards a free market economy. In the 1990s under Pres. Bris Yettsin, Russia privatized much industry and open up its industries to foreign investors but improvement for average Russians remains slow. Railroads and waterways continue to provide the most efficient means to transport goods across the vast country. People also continue to rely on public transportation, although car ownership is increasing. The absence of state controls in communications has led to a greater diversity and availability of mass media. In this new era of global interdependence, Russia has worked to strengthen its ties with regional and world trade networks. In 2006 Russia entered the world Trade Organization.
People and Their Environment The Soviet Union's disregard for the environment produced grave consequences for Russians today. Industrial sewage, fertilizer runoff. Pesticides, radioactive materials, and Auto and industrial emissions contributed to high rates of pollution in the water, soil and air. In 1986 the nuclear disaster at Chemobyl, Ukraine released tons of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. Prevailing winds spread this radiation to neighboring countries. In recent years, Russia has worked to its forests more effectively, manage, reduce water pollution levels, and improve safety standards in its nuclear power plants. The clean up and future management will be along-term effort, and the threat of global warming affects the peat bogs of western siberia.