Chukotka

   / Chukot Autonomous Okrug
   An administrative district of the Russian Federation. Located in Russia’s extreme northeast, Chukotka shares land borders with Kamchatka Krai, Magadan Oblast, and Sakha. It is part of the Far Eastern Federal District and Economic Region. It sits on the Bering, Chukchi, and East Siberian seas; at the closest point, it is only 5 kilometers from the American state of Alaska, with which the region has been developing closer trade and transportation links since 1991. The region covers an area of 737,700 square kilometers, including Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean.
   Chukotka has a population of just over 55,000, one half of what it was during Soviet times. The principal town and administrative center is Anadyr (pop. 11,000). Chukotka has large reserves of oil, natural gas, coal, gold, and other natural resources; much of the indigenous population remains linked to traditional occupations such as reindeer herding, hunting, and fishing. Once part of the Magadan Oblast, Chukotka declared its independence from the oblast in 1991, and officially became a federal subject of the Russian Federation in 1993, though it, like other autonomous okrugs, remains partially subordinate to another federal subject (in this case, Magadan). Recently, a proposal has been made to reverse this development. The titular minority, the Chukchi, account for 24 percent of the population. Ethnic Russians form a majority (52 percent) in the province, with Ukrainians (9 percent), Yupik (3 percent), and Even (2.6 percent) rounding out the population.
   Beginning in 2000, the billionaire oligarch and owner of the Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich, served as governor of the region. He replaced the unpopular Aleksandr Nazarov. Abramovich has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Chukotka and reportedly used the region as a tax haven for his company Sibneft, while the company made major investments in the local economy. Abramovich was reappointed, reportedly against his wishes, as governor in 2005 by Vladimir Putin. In 2008, Roman Kopin, a former aide to both Nazarov and Abramovich, took over the governorship.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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