Leningrad Oblast

   An administrative region of the Russian Federation. Leningrad Oblast, unlike the original source of its name, St. Petersburg, has maintained its Soviet-era designation. Leningrad is part of the Northwestern Federal District and Economic Region. The oblast is 84,500 square kilometers and has a population of slightly fewer than 1.7 million. Leningrad Oblast surrounds the federal city of St. Petersburg; since 1931, the oblast has been administratively separate from the city itself. Important cities in the oblast proper include Gatchina, Vyborg, and Volkhov. Over the past 50 years, certain outer suburbs of St. Petersburg (Leningrad) have been transferred from the oblast to the city as it has grown in size. The region shares international borders with Finland and Estonia, and is internally bordered by Pskov, Vologda, Novgorod, and Kareliya, with which it shares jurisdiction over Lake Ladoga. In the southwest, the oblast occupies the Pribaltiyskaya Lowlands; its northwestern part is located on the Karelian Isthmus, while the eastern parts rise to the uplands of the Valday Hills. The oblast is washed by the Gulf of Finland, which opens up into the Baltic Sea, and thus includes the strategic islands of Gogland, Moshchny, and Lesnoy and the Birch Islands off the coast of Vyborg (though not Kronshtadt, which is administered as part of St. Petersburg). In the 1930s, the region’s Ingrian Finns were forcibly relocated to other areas of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). During the Winter War (1939–1940) and the Continuation War (1941–1944), Finnish-Soviet conflict saw further evacuation of ethnic Finns from the area. Under the terms of the Moscow Peace Treaty (1940) and reaffirmed by the Moscow Armistice (1944) and the Paris Peace Treaty (1947), Finnish Karelia was ceded to the Soviet Union, with the southwestern zones being transferred to Leningrad Oblast. Today, ethnic Russians make up 90 percent of the population, with Ukrainians and Belarusians being the largest minorities; Finns account for less than one-half percent of the current population.
   Unlike many Russian regions, Leningrad Oblast possesses few natural resources, bauxite being the important exception. However, water resources and timber reserves abound in the region. The maritime industry, particularly transshipment of hydrocarbons, is vital to the oblast, with the Primorsk seaport at Vyborg being the most important. The major industries are metallurgy, oil refining, petrochemicals, and light manufacturing.
   In 1996, the region formally delimited its status vis-à-vis Moscow (though the power-sharing agreement was annulled in 2002) and elected its first popularly chosen governor. Vadim Gustov, who ran as an independent although he was backed by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, replaced the Yeltsin appointee Aleksandr Belyakov. Gustov stepped down in 1998 to become deputy prime minister under Yevgeny Primakov. Valery Serdyukov was chosen as his replacement; Serdyukov, competing against 15 other candidates, was elected to the post in 1999 with 30 percent of the vote. Four years later, he won a slim majority; he was reappointed by Vladimir Putin in 2007. Under his administration, foreign investment in the region has increased dramatically.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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