Russia: Energy in the Regions

Issue: Research

Country: Russia

From 2006 to 2008, Revenue Watch provided financial support in collaboration with the Open Society Institute to the Carnegie Moscow Center for research on energy and the regions in Russia. The project focused on issues that emerged in the regions as the Russian central government has reasserted dominance over hydrocarbon resources, particularly including the impact on civil society development.

This project took a multi-stakeholder approach to examining the effects of Russia's energy resources on regional development by engaging local governments at the subnational oblast level, energy companies active in the region, local politicians outside of government, journalists and regional experts, and nonprofits based in the area. Over the course of the project, Carnegie focused on four extractive-relevant regions: Irkutsk, Murmansk, Astrakhan, and Orenburg.

Research and analysis were complemented by on-the-ground meetings in a series of regions selected for their diverse range of energy projects in order to produce a comprehensive sample of lessons learned. The seminars, as well as meetings with representatives of the local administration, experts and energy specialists demonstrated that the local community is eager to participate in studies conducted on the region and to share their perspectives with the experts. The seminar sessions covered such energy and related civil society themes as: the region's economic and social situation; the local government's strategy for development; and civil society and ethnic relations.

The seminars also focused on each of the region's strategic significance to the extractive sector, transit and cross-border issues that involve Russia and Kazakhstan such as the regional development strategy, aspects of cross-border cooperation in the Caspian region, coordination problems between businesses and the government, corporate social responsibility, the political elite and electoral politics in the region, civil society, civil rights and liberties, and the challenges faced by ethnic minorities with a particular focus on Kazakh and other Muslim minorities.

This project came at a particularly opportune time for RWI to broaden its base of strategic partners in Russia, and to attempt to constructively engage various actors from government, the private sector and civil society on issues of extractive sector transparency and accountability, especially as the new NGO law continues to hamper the work of civil society organizations throughout the country.

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