Nizhny Novgorod Oblast

   An administrative region of the Russian Federation. Home to Russia’s third-largest city, Nizhny Novgorod, a historical trading, cultural, and spiritual center (formerly known as Gorky), the oblast dominates the Volga-Vyatka Economic Region; it is within the Volga Federal District. Nizhny Novgorod Oblast is bordered by the oblasts of Ryazan, Vladimir, Ivanovo, Kostroma, and Kirov, as well as the ethnic republics of Mordoviya, Chuvashiya, and Mari El.
   With a population of 3.5 million, it is 10th in terms of administrative districts; it covers an area of 76,900 square kilometers. While it does not possess significant natural resources, the region is one of Russia’s most economically active, particularly in the financial sector, and maintains trade relations with many foreign governments. The region is considered to be Russia’s most capitalist-oriented and is known for economic experimentation, land privatization, and the proliferation of small businesses, which is not surprising as the oblast has a long-established tradition of merchant trade dating back several centuries.
   This reputation was solidified under the rule of Boris Nemtsov, whose wide-ranging economic reforms in the early 1990s earned the region a reputation as a “laboratory of reform.” During his tenure, Nemtsov gained levels of autonomy for the region akin to those granted only to ethnic republics. In 2001, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation candidate Gennady Khodyrev won the governorship, and promptly suspended his membership in the party for fear that the federal authorities were planning to sap the region of its privileged position. The current governor is Valery Shantsev, a former deputy mayor of Moscow and the mastermind of the city’s failed 2012 Olympic bid.
   Situated in the chernozem, the region is also agriculturally productive, focusing on grains, sugar beets, and onions. The oblast is an important automobile manufacturing site, owing to the Sovietera Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ); it is now the region’s largest company. Dzerzhinsk, the region’s second city, was once a secret scientific city, and continues to be an important center of chemical production due to its Cold War heritage as a manufacturer of chemical weapons; it is considered to be one of the world’s most polluted cities. The city of Nizhny Novgorod has a large river port with access to the White, Baltic, Black, and Caspian seas and the Sea of Azov; shipbuilding continues to be an important driver of the local economy. The region and the city are often considered the gateway from European to Asiatic Russia, and function as a major transportation hub via its international airport.
   See also Environmentalism.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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