The Club of Regions cites the opinion of Stepan Zemtsov, senior researcher at the Gaidar Institute’s Innovation Economics Department, on the implementation of projects envisaged in the program of socioeconomic development of the Kemerovo region, concerning which President Vladimir Putin issued his instructions at a recent Government meeting.

“The Kuzbass economy needs diversification, which cannot be fully realized without support from the federal center. Otherwise, within the next 10-15 years, as a result of the reduced coal consumption in Europe, and possibly also in China, the region may be faced with some serious socioeconomic problems,” Stepan Zemtsov said.

“In addition, the Kemerovo region is located in the central part of Eurasia, at a great distance from sea ports. Thus, its coal is less competitive than that produced in Australia or South Africa. From this point of view, one may also expect big problems to arise in the future,” he added.

The Gaidar Institute expert emphasized the fact that over the past 20 years, the economic development level of the Kemerovo region turned out to be lower than the national average, “and this is primarily due to its specialization in the coal industry, metallurgy and heavy engineering”.

“These industries were not drivers of development, and, of course, this affected the environmental situation in the region. At the same time, while over the past 20 years many regions have largely ‘cleaned up’ their industries, the Kemerovo region cannot do this. What can one actually do with coal? Only to stop mining it. Because of this, it so happens that the economy has failed to grow rapidly, the markets have been gradually shrinking, while at the same time it is impossible to attract those industries that can provide the main drive: information and communication technologies, electronics, and so on, because they all require investment of human capital,” Stepan Zemtsov explained.