of recent meetings
LOCAL DEMOCRACY IN CLOSED MILITARY TOWNS IN RUSSIA"
Noel Hibbert, Managing Director of Democon Consulting Ltd, gave
an interesting talk entitled "Introducing Local Democracy in
Closed Military Towns in Russia", which prompted the usual
range of searching questions from our audience.
has been active in the Former Soviet Union since 1987. In the course
of his research and consultancy work, he has had the opportunity
to visit cities which are normally closed to foreigners and see
at first hand facilities such as the Nuclear Missile Train which
moves between artificially created forests to avoid incoming US
Some facts and
- History of
closed military towns began with Ivan the Terrible and Peter the
Great extending forts into Siberia
- 1,250 closed
military towns in Russia with populations of up to 50,000
- Source of
nuclear and biological warfare materials and "briefcase bomb".
is located 35 km from Perm in the Urals
of 50,000 people, most have spent their whole life in Zvesdnyi
- Russian government
maintains high standard of facilities
is to assist with the establishment of democratic Mayoral administration
through training Mayor and deputies, Military Governor and troops
in democratic practices, helping media to involve the population
in democratic processes. He is also involved in re-training programmes
and linking Zvesdnyi to the EU Tele-Cities project.
Diplomacy project links Zvesdnyi and Coventry Schoolkids (16-18
years old). Perhaps this could be extended to Birmingham schools?
Funding is available.
to establish mentoring and training facilities, an Internet Cafe
for scientific entrepreneurs, and a larger funded proposal is under
preparation to assist 5 other closed military towns.
that "The closed military cities of Russia are an unknown world
- previously inaccessible to other Russians before 1994 when some
of them were opened up. They could become potential centres for
new weapons of mass destruction, as the century progresses, unless
we can bring them under some form of democratic control and accountability
and integration with the rest of the world."
and members of the BRS would like to express thanks to Noel Hibber
for giving the talk and to the Royal Geographical Society (with
The Institute of British Geographers) who helped with the advertising
and shared the expenses of the evening. It is hoped that it will
be possible to arrange further joint events with the RGS.
Noel left the
following documents with me. If you would like to read them (and
possibly keep them) please let me know.
of management of civil-military relations
by Anglo-Russian Curriculum Development Team Moscow-Coventry
(Mostly in Russian, but introduction in English)
Magazine "Погранчик Содружества" (border guards
magazine in Russian - includes interesting articles on drug smuggling).
"Городок"- local Soviet-style
newspaper of military town of Zvezdnyi near Perm.
I also have
some back numbers of the NATO magazine in Russian.
written by Heather Haslett - based on Noel Hibbert's notes
events were held during the autumn term. The first, "Helping
people in Eastern Europe: Work of the Transrural Trust" was
given by Gillian Rose, Projects Co-ordinator of the charity Transrural
Trust. She talked on the dramatic changes in the lives of the rural
poor in the former Soviet Union following the political changes
and the break-up of the USSR. Her presentation was based on her
experience managing rural development projects in Moldova and the
Balkans. Bee-keeping was among the projects helped by the Trust.
From all the interesting slides, the image that stays in my mind
is that of the bees in their tree trunk and traditional hives with
rebuilt houses in the background in Kosovo. Have bees or people
the greater resilience? I know a bee-keeper who says we have much
to learn from the way bees run their society.
talk was equally interesting to people who knew little about the
geographical area or subject matter and to those with more detailed
knowledge. The question and answer session was very enlightening
and clearly enjoyed by all the participants. There was a wonderful
display of painted eggs from Romania, as well as other craft samples.
The Birmingham and Midland Institute kindly allowed their display
space in the foyer to be used for a display of the decorated eggs.
Anyone interested in further information about the Transrural Trust,
or able to help to sell the eggs, should contact Gillian Rose, Transrural
Trust, 18 Spinners Court, 55 West End, Witney, OX8 6NJ, tel: 01993
771230, email: email@example.com
most recent presentation "Ekaterinburg and Birmingham: Two
cities - one strategy?" was given by Dr Elena Denezhkina, our
Chair, who is the Project Manager for the RACE Project (Russia:
Adviser to the City of Ekaterinburg.) This project is funded by
the DFID and is based at the School of Public Policy, University
of Birmingham. The emphasis of the project is on helping the Ekaterinburg
authorities to use the experience of other cities (including Birmingham)
to formulate and implement their own policies. Birmingham and Ekaterinburg
have many features in common - population, industry, social problems
- and Birmingham has overcome many of the problems which Ekaterinburg
faces at present. Elena gave us an interesting outline of the background
to the project, Ekaterinburg itself, and the political and bureaucratic
problems faced when trying to run such a project.
is on the Siberian boundary and was a closed city until 1991. In
Soviet times it was known as Sverdlovsk and it is infamous as the
city where the family of the last Tsar was assassinated. Its links
with the West go back to the time of Peter the Great. Surrounded
by deposits of metals and precious stones, its main industries have
always been linked to metallurgy, and it was an early exporter of
quality metals to the west. Ekaterinburg is a city of great contrasts
in architecture and standards of living. In typical Russian fashion,
people seem to manage quite well on very low official incomes. The
number of universities and the level of culture are very high. The
unspoilt mountains and virgin forests outside the city offer potential