Russia’s Greenest Places are the Poorest Regions

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Oct. 23 – The Altai Republic and Chechen Republic are the best places to live in Russia as they represent the country’s cleanest economies, according to a new index released last week.

The top of the list is dominated by “agro-industrial regions” like the Siberian Altai Republic, which holds the first place, followed by the Chechen Republic, the Jewish autonomous region in the Russian Far East, and the Siberian Tuva Republic. The only “industrial” region to make the Top 10 was Tver, located 100 kilometers to the north of Moscow.

The index, which has been jointly developed by WWF Russia, Russian Geographic Society and RIA-Novosti combines environmental threat factors, economic indicators like GDP, and industrial development indexes to show the economic, environmental and social conditions in each of the Russia’s 83 regions.

“Where is it good to live in Russia?” was the main question of the index, according to Sergei Shoigu, the Moscow region governor and Russian Geographic Society president.

The methodology includes indicators ranging from growth of tree cover and protected areas, to emissions from industry and vehicles, and investment in “human capital,” i.e. spending on education, health care and sports. The resulting index numbers showed predictable outcomes.

The country’s biggest oil-producing regions dominate the bottom of the list. The Nenets Autonomous District is considered the least “green” countrywide, followed by Khanty-Mansiisk and Sakhalin Island.

Among the country’s other least “green” regions are Tyumen, the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Region, and the Chukotka Autonomous District – all located in remote parts of Northern Russia. Heavily industrialized Orenburg Region, located near the Russia-Kazakhstan border, some 918 miles southeast of Moscow, is also among the ten least “green” regions of Russia.

The Moscow region came in 34th place, while the capital city was ranked in 30th position.

The results show that some of the “cleanest” economies are also among the poorest and least developed regions of Russia.

Chechnya’s high ranking is largely due to high spending on health, education and sports, for example. But 90 percent of the Republic’s budget comes from federal subsidies.

“The Chechen Republic’s second leading position should not give the illusion that Chechnya is a green paradise,” Yevgeny Schwartz, director of conservation policy for WWF Russia, said to reporters.

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