Novosibirsk Oblast

   An administrative region of the Russian Federation. Located in the very center of Russia on the Siberian Plain, Novosibirsk Oblast is bordered by Omsk, Tomsk, Kemerovo, and Altay Krai; it shares an international border with Kazakhstan. The oblast is part of the West Siberian Economic Region and the Siberian Federal District. As a federal subject, the oblast ranks 18th in both population (2.7 million) and territory (178,200 square km). While the vast majority of the population is ethnic Russian, a significant ethnic German community is resident in the oblast, though many have quit the area for Germany since 1991.
   The regional geography is a mix of taiga, steppe, bogs, and numerous rivers (the Ob and Om) and lakes, including Chany Lake, one of the world’s largest. A relatively sunny climate allows for extensive agriculture, with the primary crops being potatoes, flax, mustard, and sunflowers; the region’s forests are also abundant in berries. The capital, Novosibirsk (pop. 1.4 million) has grown extremely rapidly in the past century, owing to its location on the Trans-Siberian Railway as well as its internationally recognized university community at Akademogorodok. Sometimes known as the Soviet Union’s “City of Science,” Novosibirsk has a strong reputation for physics, math, and informatics. The Tolmachevo International Airport is the largest in Siberia, and connects to destinations across the Commonwealth of Independent States and farther afield. Engineering and metalworking are the primary drivers of industry; the region’s export economy is oriented toward metals, machinery, chemical products, and timber.
   Despite being dismissed by Boris Yeltsin in 1993 after he publicly sided with Vice President Aleksandr Rutskoy in the constitutional crisis of 1993, Vitaly Mukha was able to regain his post as a candidate for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation by 1995. A contentious relationship existed between the oblast and the federal authorities during the late 1990s. With the waning popularity of the Communists, Viktor Tolokonsky, former mayor of the regional capital and an ally of the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, replaced Mukha in 2000; he was reappointed by Vladimir Putin in 2007. Improving the transportation network, specifically the construction of a metro, has been Tolokonsky’s key issue since taking office. He has also focused on expanding cross-border trade with Kazakhstan. In 2001, Igor Belyakov, the deputy mayor of Novosibirsk, was gunned down, purportedly for his support of transferring control of the city’s largest open-air market to government control.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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