Kamil Galeev Profile picture
Feb 15, 2022 42 tweets 13 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Let's talk about Russian demography. As you see vast spaces in Siberia & European Russia are depopulating. There are two factors behind. First, low fertility. The only places with natural growth are Muslim areas of Caucasus, Idel-Ural and clusters of indigenous Siberians (thread) Image
Secondly, migration. Huge areas are depopulating because people are moving elsewhere. Where exactly? Over 90% move to just three locations:

1. Moscow (that large city inland)
2. Krasnodar (Black Sea, near Crimea)
2. St Petersburg (Baltic shore, near Finland)

in that order Image
Let's talk of them. The case of Moscow is simple: it's by far the biggest and richest city. Moscow agglomeration alone attracts between 50-55% of all internal migrants. All the power's in Moscow -> all the money -> all the economic opportunities. Like in some LatAm countries Image
Another important attraction spot is St Petersburg. The second largest city, the biggest seaports cluster, the former imperial capital. Locals usually look down upon Muscovites considering them too uncouth and unsophisticated. And yet, it's poor, very much poorer than Moscow Image
Why? Petersburg's been long suffering from unpopular, and incompetent governors who don't do the basic stuff - like cleaning the city from snow and ice. As a result, touristic downtown tends to look like this every winter - city center is often impassable. And so on Image
Some argue Moscow is purposefully keeping St Petersburg in desolation. Why? Because it's a rival. St Petersburg is the only city that can realistically compete with Moscow as an alternative seat of power. Therefore, any popular and competent governor'd be too much of a threat
This might be parallel to the situation in China. For the past 500+ China had two capitals: northern or southern, Beijing or Nanjing. Some argue that for this reason Beijing is purposefully obstructing the development of Nanjing. It's the only potential alternative seat of power Image
But let's talk of Krasnodar. It's located in the very south, near the Black Sea coast. It doesn't have much of history, architecture or as Muscovites would argue - culture. It was built in 1792 as a frontier fort in sparsely populated land and till recently was very small Image
And yet's now it's the fastest growing city in Russia. According to official data, it's population increased by 74% for the recent seven years. Unofficially - much faster. Which creates problems - enormous traffic congestions, electricity and water supply, etc. Problems of growth Image
Why do people move here? First, Krasnodar is the Russian sunbelt. Let's look at this map classifying climate zones of Russia. It goes from 'absolutely uncofortable' deep purple to 'the most comfortable' orang). And Krasnodar is the warmest, sunniest, closest to the warm Black sea Image
I'll take a pause, gonna continue in an hour or two
Second, geography. As you see, Krasnodar region (red) covers the entire Black Sea shore. Theoretically Russia theoretically has lots of seas, but they freeze. The navigation across the Arctic is really possible only with expensive ice-breakers Image
Which means there are only three convenient areas for seaports, connecting Russia with the World Ocean. St Petersburg on Baltic (upper left), Krasnodar on the Black Sea (lower left) and Vladivostok on the Pacific (lower right). Other waters just freeze too much Image
Which is why three busiest seaports of Russia are located in these three regions.

1. Novorossiisk (Krasnodar) 156 million tons
2. Ust-Luga (St Petersburg) 103 million tons
3. Vostochny (Vladivostok) 73 million tons Image
But the Pacific seaports like Vladivostok have a problem. They r too disconnected from the rest of Russia. The only real link is the Transsiberian railway. Which is now busy shipping cargo from China to Europe: trains can go as often as every 3 minutes. The railway is overwhelmed Image
That's why in the view of economic geography Krasnodar is uniquely well-positioned. It's one of only three viable access points to the world ocean, and is located near the warmest sea which Russia has Image
With best soils and climate in Russia, Krasnodar is highly agricultural. At this moment top 3 farming regions are:

1. Krasnodar
2. Rostov
3. Tatarstan

But Tatarstan is deep inland, while Krasnodar's on the shore and thus can easily export domestic and Rostov-produced grain Image
Being located in the sunbelt and on the sea shore it became a region of heavy government investments. Sochi olympics, a number of SEZs, the Putin's palace where he spends more time than in Kremlin - they're all located here. Because it has sun and the only warm sea in Russia Image
Interestingly enough, while growing so quickly and attracting huge number of migrants, the region has quite bad reputation. First of all, northerners consider them as Russian rednecks - uncultured rustic ppl. A common slur is 'Kubanoid', Kuban being the main river of Krasnodar Image
Which can partially result from the ethnic differences. Krasnodar was colonised only since around 1800 and predominantly from Ukraine. If you look at this Soviet ethnic map of 1941 you'll see that ethnic Ukrainians dominate in the region Image
Consider Bastrykin, Chief of Investigation Committee of Russia. He publicly told to his staffer, a Krasnodar native:

«You're not a Petersburg (Leningrad) man. In the past they wouldn't allow you here and now they do. Go back to Kuban, to your Cossacks. Y'all just flocked here" Image
Ofc that was considered extremely rude and provocative. But what one person will say, very many think, they just keep silence. In a sense that might reflect the attitude of originally St Petersburg ruling class - the close circle of Putin are all from there - to the southerners
Which might be mutual. Anecdotally, a friend of mine, a very Nordic looking (blonde, blue eyes) girl from Taganrog which is in nearby region was teased by her family as 'katsapka', кацап being a Ukrainian slur for Russians Image
Another stereotype about the region is that it's very criminal. And that the entire south of Russia is super criminal. That's not completely wrong. However, the main difference is not the scale of organised crime, but rather its institutional organisation and culture
To put it simply, Russia has two very different and largely incompatible organised crime cultures - thieves and bandits. Btw here's a nice book with good conceptualisation of this phenomenon Image
Let's start with thieves who dominated till 1991. Thieves culture originated in the Stalinist era. The thing about thieves is that they're very networked, very cooperative and very ideological. Their (public) agenda is not money-making but building parallel state and institutions Image
If you listen to thieves, they don't care about money at all. They care only about justice. And true justice can be found not in the official laws (= Law of Cops), but in the criminal tradition (= Law of Thieves). Which is very much superior and based on true Christian principles Image
Ofc it's cheap propaganda. But the thing with propaganda is that it works. If it doesn't fool everyone, it fools very many. Quite a lot of people sincerely believed they could find justice with thieves who are legalistic and rigorous Christian paladins (if you listen to them)
E.g. two business partners have dispute and come to thieves for justice:

- Will you demand payment?
- No, I care only about justice

But after making a judgment he says:

- I don't need money. But our brothers in prison do. So you must contribute 100 000 bucks

Many such cases
I gave this as an illustration of thieves' logic and thieves' propaganda. We are selfless, virtuous men who don't need money. Why do we do crime then? Largely because we need to help our brothers in prison.

Sounds stupid? Well, if it works, it ain't stupid
Thieves largely held monopoly on the organised crime all over the former USSR till late 1980s. By the late 1980s with the Soviet system crumbling and the opportunities for shady business schemes booming, a new culture emerges from almost nothing. The bandits Image
Unkile thieves, bandits were openly about money. While thieves developed complex ideology and presented them as the warriors of light, whose sufferings in prison are parallel to the passions of the Christ (as shown in the screenshot below), bandits didn't really care to do that Image
According to thieves logic, these new upstarts could enter the criminal world. But they had to do it be entering existing thieves' organisations and doing the long arduous apprenticeship in a hope that may be one day that could rise. These guys didn't care Image
What followed next was a pretty brutal fight. Bandits who didn't care about the Law of Thieves but cared a lot about physical exercise, gunnery and business were mostly winning. However, the outcomes varied over the different regions Image
St Petersburg was the place of the most clear and unconditional victory of the bandits. Which is reflected in culture - e.g. in a super popular TV series 'The Bandit Petersburg'. That's not a fiction - here they exterminated the opposing forces almost completely Image
Of course there were casualties. For example, Putin's judo coach Usvyatsov who probably organised his admission to the prestigous St Petersburg university was killed by thieves:


"The grave. On the grave there's an epitaph
I died, but the mafia is immortal' Image
And Russian ruling elite originated in the Bandit Petersburg. See funerals a mafia boss in 2004. They're attended by (1) Zolotov, then chief of Putin's bodyguards, now of the National Guard, (3) Vanichkin, Chief of St Petersburg Police, and Kumarin (2) the leader of Tambov gang Image
Also - do you see a guy in a green coat? That's Andrey Konstantinov, the author of the book 'Bandit Petersburg' on which the series was based. He's very well-connected and well-informed Image
While the rise of bandits made the devastating effect upon thieves, there were two regions, where they did beat off all incursions. They were 1) the Far East 2) the South of Russia, including Krasnodar. The criminal culture of these regions remains super thief-style even now
While the Far East is contracting, depopulating and apparently is not gonna make any difference in the foreseeable future, Krasnodar is skyrocketing. So, when thinking of the future of Russia we should keep in mind, that demographic and economic center will gradually drift south
And it will drift to the regions which are:

1) recently colonised
2) ethnically different from the heartland
3) don't have much imperial legacy or tradition
4) overlooked by the state
5) looked down upon
6) have different institutional culture
7) economically self-sufficient
The end of thread. I think that's enough for today. This time I described how Russia is changing sociospatially-wise. Next time, I'll cover how did it come to this sociospatial distribution in the first place. On Friday I'm planning to write

Why Russia became so large

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More from @kamilkazani

May 27
New Industrial Power + New Industrial Power

is structurally different from:

New Industrial Power + Old Industrial Power

Russia and China are too similar in too many important respects. They share too many chokepoints (though to a different degree). They're kinda the same
If Russia was looking for alternatives to Western Europe, it would look at Japan - the old industrial power. If Japan was politically problematic (as it is), it would look at Taiwan and South Korea, new industrial powers on the very advanced stages of their learning process
Read 4 tweets
May 27
As I said previously, there is a difference between the:

a) argumentative space
b) real space

You can "reorganise and be self-sufficient" in the former, but not in the latter. In reality, the option of "self-sufficiency" just doesn't exist
The USSR was never "self-sufficient". The initial Stalinist industrialisation was planned and managed by Americans, and based on the import of American + to the lesser extent German equipment.

1920-1930s - US + Germany
WIth the start of the Cold War, America semi-excluded itself from the Soviet market. So it was monopolised by the Western Europe. E.g. in the 1970s Western Europe counted for like 90% of Soviet imports, Western Germany alone counting for 45%

1950-1970s - Germany + Rest of Europe
Read 6 tweets
May 22
Opposition Trap

On Twitter, you see not dumb people falling into the Grilling Trap

There are two problems with grilling

1. It gives you cheap dopamine -> very addictive

2. It destroys your brain

In this regard Grilling Trap is just a particular case of the Opposition Trap🧵
Grilling is a social game taking place in the argumentative space. Now the thing about the argumentative space is that it is not identical to the real space. A true zealot of course, believes that his own argumentative space is (more or less) identical to the real space

It's not
There is always a gap between what makes a good argument and what makes a good decision. It may be wider or narrower, depending on circumstances, but it always exists

Making a decision =/= justifying a decision

First is optimised for the real space, second for the argumentative
Read 16 tweets
May 9
Some context for the WWII

Soviet war machine was not created autarkically. It was built by the American businesses through the 1920 - early 1930s. Detroit-based Albert Kahn Associates company was a key organiser of the Soviet military industrial buildup

👇old but relevant🧵
The thing about Soviet military buildup is not that they imported stuff. That's pretty obvious. The thing is that they outsourced the planning. When we are discussing the Stalinist planned economy, we should keep in mind that the planning was done in the US Image
Albert Kahn Associates was the most important *planner* of Soviet industrialisation. They were not alone though. It was conducted by the joint efforts of the US industrialists

"On the way to automobilize the USSR": Henry Ford signing a contract to built a GAZ automative plant Image
Read 5 tweets
May 5
Why Russia is running out of shells?

Whereas the Wagner's shell hunger is real, ascribing it to the ill intentions of bureaucracy may be somewhat simplistic. It reflects the peculiar structure and the peculiar history of the Russian military manufacturing base

(not a 🧵) Image
What you should know of the Russian military industry:

1. After 1991 the output collapsed, often by few orders of magnitude
2. In Putin's era it bounced back, but not to the Cold War era levels
3. Both the collapse and the revival affected various types of weaponry unevenly
It would not be *too* much of a simplification to present the demand on the new weaponry in the following way:

Demand = State Defense Order + Exports

Now the thing is that in the 1990s the State Order was usually non-existent. If it was existent, it was often not paid for
Read 19 tweets
May 1
The managed system more often than not appears as a black box to its upper management. It is not transparent. I do not quite understand how it works. All I have are the output signals of the very uneven quality. And that is all I can base my judgement and my decisions upon🧵 Image
This explains much of the perceived "irrationality" of top decision makers:

a) The system isn't transparent. It produces signals of uneven quality
b) Choose the presumably higher quality signals *you are able to process*
c) Base your decisions upon them

Hence "irrationality" Image
Reality is incomprehensible in all of its complexity (and we tend to very much exaggerate how well we do comprehend it). It is covered by the fog of war. And perhaps nothing else illustrates it so vividly as, well, the war Image
Read 14 tweets

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