The Komi Republic is located in the northeastern corner of the 

European part of the Russian Federation. Its global position is 

approximately  590 north latitude to the Arctic circle and is on the west 

side of the Ural Mountains from 660 to 480 E longitude. (Refer to Map #1 

in Appendix)  Komi measures approximately 416,800 square kilometers, 

approximately the size of New England, with a population of nearly 

1,250,000 people.   The capital city of Komi, Syktyvkar, has a population 

of about 225,000 inhabitants.  It is nearly 200 years old, which is young 

by Russian standards.  Komi possesses its own cultural origins which 

researchers determined to originate in the Vwym River valley.  The 

culture is closely related to Eskimo culture due to its northerly 

location.  Aside from Russian language Komi also has its own language, of 

Finno-Ugric origin which is in the Uralic language family.  Komi was one 

of Stalins favorite gulag locations and, in fact, there are well over 

1,000 gulags located in the Komi Republic, some of which are still active 

as prisons.

        The Komi Republic is considered a part of Russia's Northern 

Economic Region which is noted for its forest products, mining and 

fishing industries and the production of metals such as aluminum.    

Major natural gas and oil industries located in Ukhta create an 

interesting dynamic between Komi, Moscow , International or 

Multi-national Oil Corporations and environmental organizations.  Komi 

industries stratify the Republic as follows: north - coal mining and 

fishing; central - oil and natural gas; south - wood products.  

        The Komi capital of Syktyvkar is situated at the confluence of 

the Syssola and Vwychegda Rivers.  The surface and ground water resources 

surrounding Syktyvkar that are needed to satisfy industrial, agricultural 

and municipal demands are becoming incrementally less sufficient.   These 

two rivers along with the huge Pechora River are already significantly 

polluted by nutrients or industrial wastes.  In 1994, a major break in an 

oil pipeline severely polluted the Pechora and several other streams in 

the Pechora watershed.  

        Wildlife resources have been heavily depleted by industrial 

development and pollutants, as well as by decreases in critical habitat 

associated with widespread replacement of primary forests with secondary 

forests and draining of marshes.  Fish resources have been degraded 

because of deteriorated conditions for reproduction by pollution of water 

bodies and major and minor spills.  Within the boundary of the Komi 

Republic lies a natural reserve called a zapovednik. This reserve, the 

Pechoro-Illych, is located in the central taiga  and was designated as a 

biosphere reserve by the former Soviet Government.   The Pechoro-Illych,  

preserved strictly for pure research, is nearly 1.5 million acres of 

untouched wilderness.
The Need for Environmental Standards

        The opening section of this paper provided a general description 

of the Komi Republic.  This section begins to build a case which  

supports the development of specialized environmental policy for the Komi 

Republic.  The paper relies on both historical data taken from literature 

and the World Resource Database (WRD) and current information gathered on 

site in Komi to justify my contention for restructuring the Komi 

Republic's environmental policy.

Case I

        Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 Komi has developed  

complex political and environmental interrelationships with the Moscow 

government seat.  Although such circumstances  are not uncommon in the 

Russian Federation,  Komi and Moscow display some unique dynamics.  The 

Komi Republic is rich in natural resources, which include vast natural 

gas and oil resources and the largest pulp and paper complex in Europe.  

The potential for exploitation of these resources by foreign investors is 

a genuine concern.  I foresee a complicated situation.  For example,  

companies in Komi may decide to enter into to contractual agreements with 

foreign investors for hard currency.  Moscow could decide to challenge 

these contracts on the basis of land and resource "rights" granted under 

the former Communist regime.  A dispute would likely develop between a 

Komi company, Moscow and foreign investor.  This dispute process would 

all but ignore a very important consideration, not only in Komi, but 

throughout Russia: the environment.  Environmental remediation in Komi is 

at a standstill, as it is in the rest of the Russian Federation.  The 

cause of this standstill appears to be a chicken-egg relationship.  How 

does one address environmental problems without a stable economy and why 

should one not immediately undertake environmental remediation since, 

without it there may be a drastic, negative impact on the economy?  I 

suggest a strategy that incrementally addresses both, simultaneously.  

The general plan begins with the following narrative:

        Russia has a land area of 16,995,800 square kilometers, nearly 

twice that of the United States.  Its southern borders are located near 

500 N latitude and the northern borders are above the Arctic circle 

(66.70N lat.).  With this degree of geographical diversity one uniform 

set of environmental laws seems inadequate, yet this is exactly what one 

finds in the Russian judiciary system.  Refer to the map of forest biomes 

of the Russian Federation in the appendix.(Map #2).  The variation of 

ecosystems present in each of the different biomes virtually orders a 

policy structure that considers this variability and addresses it with an 

appropriate policy for each biome.  The pure size of the Russian 

Federation creates a substantial logistical problem for discussing the 

implementation of specialized environmental policy.   However, the Komi 

Republic is a more manageable model with which to defend the notion of a 

new, more specialized environmental policy that will enable local and 

regional economies to strengthen along with the development and 

refinement of a new environmental policy. 

           I contend that the optimal method of addressing these problems 

is to allow each geopolitical region (such as the Komi Republic) to have 

the power and freedom to undertake necessary strategies specific to their 

geographical location, since each area will have a different set of 

problems.  The ultimate goal will be to allow the Komi Republic to 

structure its own environmental policy, with Moscow supplying only 

general guidelines.  Each geopolitical region will have more extensive 

knowledge of their own area.  Since the judicial branch of the Russian 

Federation is ineffective an alternative resolution strategy is 

appropriate.  The use of consensus-building strategies will afford Komi 

the decision-makers the opportunity to arrive at a mutually beneficial 

implementation plan that will address both economic and environmental needs.

        Refer to Map #3 and biome chart in the appendix to further 

understand the contention for specialized environmental policy 

structure.  The map delineating the biomes in Komi illustrates the 

ecosystem differentiation.  Six different biomes are located in Komi, 

including two variations of tundra.  Particular management practices or 

other external effects from human interaction will have a different 

impact on each particular biome.  Ecosystem management principles 

recognize the need to develop impact assessment for the biotic variation 

similar to that found among the different biomes in Komi.  It is  evident 

that management strategies developed for tundra regions vary from other 

areas  lacking the permafrost which defines the Arctic tundra.  

Therefore, it is imperative that the Komi Republic adopt an environmental 

policy which allows for the variation dictated by these different biomes. 

        Komi not only is constrained by the general environmental 

standards issued from Moscow but is also constrained by the hierarchy of 

political structure.  The organizational chart (Chart I in Appendix) 

portrays the continued trend in one set of standards for environmental 

regulation from the former Soviet Union to the Russian Federation, of 

which the Komi Republic is a part.  The organizational chart also points 

out another weakness in the current system of management.   The map of 

Komi, which shows the 20 regions, (Map #4 in appendix) and the 

organizational chart are used to help explain the next contention.  Each 

of the 20 districts in Komi has an identical structure from the economic 

ministry down through the organization.  Therefore, each of the seven 

departments under the jurisdiction of the Economic Minister is also in 

direct contact with the Economic Minister in Moscow and, as the chart 

demonstrates, the Komi Economic Minister can be bypassed by directives 

received at the district level directly from Moscow.  The potential for 

duplication or confusion is very high.  In addition, the enforcement 

network and fine system for the Federation is antiquated and 

ineffective.  The Komi district map also delineates another weakness of 

their system.  Each individual district employ only three inspectors  and 

they each have a specific area of assignment, which makes a very 

inefficient system.  For example, if one inspector is a fisheries expert 

and happens to find a forestry-related violation he must contact the 

forestry specialist in his district to evaluate and deliver the penalty, 

usually a fine..  The system of fines is antiquated and has not kept up 

with inflation.  An accidental spill of to 1000 to 10,000 gallons of oil 

into a waterway of any type carries a fine of 100,000 rubles - $20.00.    

Environmental incentives are non-existent with such a system. 

        The Constitution of the Republic of Komi states the following:  

Article 64, subsection (e), the use of natural resources; protection of 

environment and maintenance of ecological safety; especially protected 

nature reserves; protection of monuments of history and culture are 

common jurisdiction of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Komi.   

In order to establish a positive trend with environmental remediation  

there is need for significant policy modifications that will allow the 

Komi Republic to formulate, modify and enforce its own environmental 


Case II

        The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 signaled a change in 

world order and precipitated a wealth of speculation about the future of 

the Russian Federation and  the other Republics of the Former Soviet 

Union (FSU).  Within the former Soviet system are also found a number of  

republics called Autonomous Republics.  They  were established under the 

Stalin regime but nothing changed except these republics were allowed to 

call themselves autonomous.  From Stalins  perplexing ideal of 

maintaining ethnic diversity originated this autonomous designation.  

Each republic still operated as required under the Soviet system.  The 

Komi Republic is one of these so-called Autonomous Republics and is the 

subject of this paper.

        The death of Constantin Chernyenko in March of 1985 and the 

subsequent appointment of Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev as the secretary 

general of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) marks the 

beginning of a period of significant change in the Soviet Union.   The 

methodology of ideological reform under Gorbachev was not dissimilar to 

previous changes in Soviet thinking.  Gorbachev took on the task of 

uskornie (acceleration) of scientific-technical progress.  Launching 

reform of this type displaced developed socialism  rather than destroying 

it outright, consequently developed socialism was allowed a foothold by 

those unwilling to change.    Nevertheless, as we know, Gorbachev was 

able to displace or counterbalance the ideology of developed socialism 

with his uskornie of technical, social and economic reform.  Ultimately 

these were part of  perestroika (restructuring).

        It is productive to address the specific nature of the dynamics 

between the rapidly eroding Soviet Union and current problems in the 

Russian Federation and the Komi Republic.  I propose to use transition 

theory as outlined in Chapter 14 of  (Drake) , Towards Building a Theory 

of Population-Environment Dynamics,(Ness, Drake, Breslin, 1992) as an 

evaluative mechanism.  We know that the collapse of the USSR occurred in 

1991 and by using several indicators I surmise that the transitions will 

point to SOMETHING imminent during the years approaching 1991.  Since we 

already know what happened then the focal point is available.  Can the 

transitions be used as a predictive mechanism?   I hypothesize that  

transition theory will illustrate trends with which to make general 

predictions that  substantiate the fall of the USSR.  If similar 

transitional trends are evident utilizing environmental-related data 

specific to Komi then I theorize an environmental abnormality exists. 

This abnormality must then be addressed through appropriate scientific 

investigation. Decisions based on these data may lead to policy 

modifications.  This paper  includes a more detailed narrative of the 

factors that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union.  Clearly, the 

transitions would not actually predict the breakup but the could 

illustrate, with different indicators, that something would happen within 

a few years or less.  By combining supporting data and transitions a 

correlation will appear that is mutually supportive.  In order to explain 

this presumption a number of transitions have been prepared from 

different subject areas.  If all of these areas indicate a change or 

continued trend in a direction that implies impending problems then it 

seems clear that transitions could be used as a significant correlative 

factor in an overall predictive mechanism.   The next part of this paper 

will explore the idea of transitions and their usefulness in more detail.

What led to the breakup of the Soviet Union?

        The election of Gorbachev as secretary general of the CPSU in 

March of 1985 testified to the Politburos recognition that the country 

was in a very serious long-term crisis which would eventually jeopardize 

its standing as a great power alongside the United States.  Gorbachev was 

the candidate of those who wanted change.   He realized that change could 

no longer be postponed.  Gorbachev intensified the goals of Yuri 

Andropov, his patron and mentor, to reduce party corruption and 

investigate non-labor income,  that is, Gorbachev lobbied against people 

who received earnings not acquired in officially recognized employment.   

He also sharply restricted the sale of alcoholic drinks and banned their 

consumption on official occasions.  This was the first part of 

perestroika.  Gorbachev also launched glasnost (publicity) which was 

supposed to indicate less secrecy and eliminate censuring of the press.   

The catalyst for perestroika and glasnost occurred in April of 1986 - 

Chernobyl.  Foreigners were indignant that they should learn of an 

explosion affecting public health around the world from a non-Soviet 

source (the Swedes were supposedly the first to call attention to the 

increased atmospheric levels of radiation).    

        Gorbachev may have been the architect of the breakup of the USSR 

but it surely was in a more reactive role than a proactive one.  Once he 

loosened  the grip of the former Soviet system he and the socialist 

government were overwhelmed.  Shortly after Chernobyl Gorbachev held a 

meeting with a delegation of writers and told them to print the truth.  

They responded with attacks on censorship and on environmental 

pollution.  Books including Solzhenitsyns Gulag Archipelago were 

published and the realities of Stalins regime were revealed in their 

entirety.  Sakharov was released from exile in Gorky and immediately made 

his presence known, even to Gorbachev, who ordered his release.  

        Gathering momentum toward freedom throughout 1987 and 1988 the 

Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) started with sharp 

commentary about environmental issues and quickly moved toward the 

freedom lost in 1940 as part of the Nazi-Soviet Pact.   On March 11, 

1990. Lithuania proclaimed independence and the Latvian and Estonian 

Supreme Soviets followed suit soon thereafter.   

        August 19, 1991, a small of group of opponents within the party 

attempted to take over the government in a coup attempt.  The attempt 

occurred a day before the Treaty of 9 + 1 was to be signed.   The 9 + 1 

describes a treaty with the 9 remaining republics (those republics which 

had no plans for complete independence) plus Moscow.   The treaty would 

allow for broader de-centralization of power and would virtually exclude 

much of the former Communist Politburo.  The Politburo was composed of 

men who made their livelihood from the Communist Party's abuse of power.  

They would not relinquish this power and their elite lifestyle without 

attempting a takeover.   This failed coup attempt left Boris Yeltsin in a 

position of power and effectively neutralized Gorbachev.  The failed 

attempt marked the official end of the USSR.
The Economic Facts Behind the Collapse of the Soviet Union

        When Gorbachev and his advisors took power in 1985 a national 

systemic crisis confronted them.  It was a crisis of effectiveness.  The 

Soviet Union was an economic disaster.  Its performance in almost every 

sphere but the military was below not only world standards, but the 

standards set by its own leadership.  Official party reports were 

completely inaccurate..  The party-state administration was highly 

bureaucratized, penetrated  by a corporatist spirit, and thoroughly 

corrupted  by  Mafia-like informal associations.  With regard to the 

economy, in a speech given at the Plenum of the Central Committee in 

February 1988, Gorbachev summed up the state of affairs with a remarkable 

statement: In the 20 years previous to his accession to power, the Soviet 

national income, with the exception of production of alcohol, did not 

increase in real terms at all.    The combination of the trends of Soviet 

economic and technological stagnation with the explosive growth in the 

capitalist world was potentially, and in part actually, calamitous to the 

Soviet Union and to the domestic and international aspirations of its 

ruling circles.  During the mid-1980s the Soviet Union was falling behind 

major capitalist nations in key comparative economic indicators.  Most 

important, the technological gap between the Soviet Union and advanced 

capitalist countries was widening  with increased momentum.  The Soviet 

Union produced, for example, twice as much steel as the United States, 

with a GNP half the size of the United States, and still encountered 

chronic shortages of steel.  The explanation for this anomaly is quite 

simple: The Soviet Union wastes steel by engaging in an unnecessary and 

unproductive enterprise.  The amount of steel in Soviet capital and 

consumer goods is comparatively exorbitant. (This record of enormous 

waste is also true of lumber and other primary products, most notably the 

wasteful consumption of electricity and oil.)   Such practices, when 

combined with the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, served to further 

deteriorate an already huge imbalance between the military-industrial 

complex and the foreign/domestic economic situation. 

        The transitions found on the following page are graphic 

representations which, when combined with the narrative of the events 

leading up to the collapse of the USSR, make a clear representation of 

the factors contributing to that collapse.  The figures which comprise 

the analytical base for the transitions were taken primarily from the 

World Resource Database (WRD).  The transitions portray parallel 

information which, in stable relationships, generally follow a parallel 

path, when A goes up B goes up and when A goes down B goes down.  The 

interesting behavior of the transitions occurs when the two parallel 

relationships either converge or diverge.  Something must have happened 

to cause this behavior.  Therefore, the transitions indicate some type of 

aberrant nature and underlying causality and, when combined with other 

factors, act as a reliable indicator or support predictive mechanisms.  

My examples focus specifically on the Soviet Union leading up to 1991.   

The curves primarily, but not exclusively, demonstrate economic trends.  

Those indicators graphically evince diverging or converging curves which, 

under stable conditions, display parallel behavior.    I theorize that 

creating similar transitions, but with the use of environmental data from 

Komi, will illustrate  behavior similar to the transitions from the 

Soviet data leading  to the collapse in 1991.   If the transitions from 

Komi do show similar dynamics then I contend that there are environmental 

problems which require further scientific analysis.

        The following six relationships graphically  delineate  trends 

which illustrate a change in the norm:  1)  external debt vs current 

borrowing;  2) total labor force vs agricultural labor force;  3)  energy 

production vs energy consumption;  4) energy exports vs energy imports;  

5)  roundwood imports vs roundwood exports. (6) crude birth and death rates:


                (Information taken from the World Resource Database - WRD)      

Figure #1

        Figure #1 illustrates an increasingly diverging trend in external 

debt versus current borrowing from a point in time between 1987 and 

1988.  This trend continues and as the graph indicates the trend 

demonstrates a more pronounced divergence from 1990 toward 1991.  I 

consider this an indication of the increasing devaluation of the ruble on 

the world market.  In addition, the high debt makes the Soviet Union a 

poor risk to lenders, which causes the current borrowing trend to decrease.


                (Information taken from the World Resource Database - WRD)      

Figure #2

        Figure #2 graphically represents the relationship between total 

labor force and agricultural labor force.  I speculate that this graph 

explains the movement of the labor force from agricultural areas to the 

military-industrial complexes.  Agriculture is a labor intensive industry 

in the Soviet Union and the loss of this work force will necessitate the 

need for food importing.


                (Information taken from the World Resource Database - WRD)      

Figure #3

        Figure #3 shows the relationship with the energy production 

versus energy consumption in the Soviet Union.  Notice the sharp drop in 

both production and consumption beginning about 1989.  A projection of 

this graph shows an intersection of the energy curves, which indicates 

the need for conservation measures or indicate the need for energy 

purchases from another source.


                (Information taken from the World Resource Database - WRD)      

Figure #4

        Figure #4 corresponds with Figure #3 regarding energy usage.  The 

energy production and consumption figures predicted an intersection.  

Measures were taken to correct this trend.  Energy exports were severely 

cut back.  Imports were reduced, again most likely due to the poor buying 

power of the ruble on the world market. 


                (Information taken from the World Resource Database - WRD)      

Figure #5

        Figure #5 above is another transition curve which also solidifies 

the fact that Soviet Union is in a critical economic situation.  The 

roundwood imports have been reduced and the projection line indicates 

that the imports  will continue to decline.  This transition again 

provides a graphic illustration indicating an economic downturn.


                (Information taken from the World Resource Database - WRD)      

Figure #6

        Figure #6 has been projected manually simply to illustrate the 

significant trend in the crude birth and crude death rates.  1990 appears 

to be at the beginning of a transition which graphically represents a 

serious situation for the people of the new Republics formed from the 

Soviet Union.

        The previous six transitions (Figures #1 - #6) were created by 

data which,  when displayed graphically, delineated negative trends.  The 

transitions did not predict anything specific but when viewed together 

they made a compelling argument that something negative occurred or was 

beginning to occur.  By combining these graphic observations with 

existing history the transitions are consistent with what we now know 

about the collapse of the Soviet Union.  It is my theory that if 

environmental data gathered in the Komi Republic displays negative 

characteristics similar to transitions in figures #1- #6 then further, 

quantitative investigations are appropriate, and I theorize that these 

investigations will conclude that Komi's environmental situation has not 

stabilized but  continues to deteriorate.  Therefore, the Komi Republic 

has need to address this situation through environmental remediation as 

outlined by a specific environmental policy.  

        Two questions arise when reviewing the transition dynamics: (1)  

Why didn't some officials within the government of the Soviet Union 

recognize what was happening?  (2)  How will the FSU finance remediation 

of environmental problems and reverse the serious downward trend of 

economic indicators?  Part of the explanation for both of these questions 

follows:  According to official statistics (which were later found to be 

false), Boris Gosteev, the minister of finance, reported in October 1985, 

that the Soviet Union had generated a budget surplus of 4.1 billion 

rubles.  Belatedly in 1988, he corrected himself to reveal that on the 

contrary, the 1985 budget had not run a surplus but a deficit of 37 

billion rubles, or about $59 billion.  Gosteev anticipated that in 1989 

there would be a budget deficit of 35 billion rubles or about $56 

billion;   the previous figures reflect an exchange rate of $1.60 = 1 

ruble.    Figure #7 below  illustrates the REAL, world-market value of 

the ruble during the time period from  1989  to the present.  (Breakup of 

the USSR occurred in 1991). 


                (Compiled from yearly trips to Russia by the Richard W. Aishton)        

Figure #7

Referring to Figure #7, Gosteev's deficit figures are far beyond 37 

billion rubles since the real market value of the ruble far in excess of 

his exchange rate of $1.60 = 1 ruble.   

        The Former Soviet Union (FSU) has broken into a fragmented 

economic disarray.  The Russian Federation is the main player with whom 

this paper is concerned because my interest relates to the Komi Republic, 

which resides within the boundaries of the Russian Federation, yet to a 

degree has some freedom beyond Russia.  This is a complex relationship 

that has a unique dynamic, which will be explored.   Hedley Bull argues 

the point of anarchy and how it is incompatible with society in the 

international trade arena.    I understand where this could be loosely 

applied to the Moscow - Komi situation, or any other place in the Russian 

Federation.  Russia needs to become a permanent, reliable fixture on the 

international market yet its history also does not allow it completely 

sever with the past practices quite yet.  The old Communist elite are now 

entrenched in the new capitalism yet still do not fully understand how to 

separate from the anarchist/socialist model under which they lived and 

thrived.    Presently the situation has changed in the FSU, but has it 

really?  According to my interpretation of Double-Edged Diplomacy 

(Putnam, 1992), Russia may not be very far from its usual situation in 

world trade.  For most countries involved in international relations, 

whether it is trade or dispute resolution the politicians or 

decision-makers were involved in a two-level game.  The decision-makers 

are required to make decisions based on what constituents at home desire 

(aka. domestic table) and another set of decisions and rules are needed 

to deal with what politicians and businessmen from foreign countries are 

asserting (aka the  international table).   Question:  Does Moscow 

actually care about domestic policy or is it too busy trying to get into 

the international arena where Russia can stand to make political and 

economic gains?  According to my theory based on proposals discussed in 

Double-Edged Diplomacy (Putnam, 1992),  Russian Federation government 

officials face decisions on an international level that conflict with 

domestic interests.  These officials make decisions based on improving 

economic gains and consequently they ignore domestic problems, which 

include the terrible environmental conditions.  A more free press in 

Russia and greater world media attention creates a forum in which 

government officials are more exposed to criticism.  President Boris 

Yeltsins heart condition has jeopardized his political future.  Current 

acting President Viktor Chernomyrdin, a former businessman, must now  

devise a strategy in which to address both the economic and environmental 

conditions in the Russian Federation.

Case III

        The economic situation for the average Russian citizen is still 

bleak but another specter looms in the shadows of the Russian country - 

environmental degradation.  In the wake of Soviet Communism  the Soviet 

Union  has left a legacy of inconceivable and potentially irreversible 

environmental damage.  In land area, the Soviet Union was the largest 

country in the world.  In population in 1990 it ranked third, after China 

and India.  For decades it was the leading producer of oil and steel, the 

owner of a quarter of the planets forest reserves and an equal portion of 

its fresh water.  Yet it beggared itself by endangering the health of its 

population - especially its children and its labor force - the 

productivity of its soil and the purity of its air and water.    The 

simply unbelievable environmental legacy left to the people of Russia 

defies the imagination.  Not only are five regions - the Urals, East and 

West Siberia, Central and North Russia - on the brink of ecological 

disaster, but, where air quality was monitored, it is theoretically 

impossible to live in every seventh city.  There is 20 times as much 

nitrous oxide as the normal international standard in the air of Gorky 

(Nizhny-Novgorod), Smolensk and Omsk; 33 times as much sulfur dioxide as 

the normal international standard in Nikel; 183 times as much methyl 

mercaptan as the normal international standard in Volzhsky, 289 times in 

Arkhangelisk, 478 times in Novodvinsk; the benzopyrene content in 

Novokunetsks air is 598 times above the maximum permissible by 

international standards.  The air in Novokuznetsk, in fact, ranked on as 

the fifth most polluted in the USSR.    Most of these cities are in a 

Catch-22 situation whereby the large industry is such an integral part of 

the economic structure of the city that closing the factory down to 

retrofit it with proper pollution control systems would disrupt the flow 

of funds for the municipal budget, throwing the city into economic chaos. 

        Stalins desire to demonstrate Soviet superiority led to the 

acceleration of industrialization while leaving behind all other aspects 

of development including health and environmental safeguards.  The United 

States followed a similar developmental strategy but in the early 1960s 

the US had the benefit of people like Rachel Carson  (Silent Spring, 

1961) who had a democratic forum in which to raise questions that 

initiated scientific research.  Decisions based on this research insured 

proper stewardship of the earth.  Unfortunately, the Communist society 

was interested only in being superior, at all costs.   The price the 

Russians and other Republics of the FSU have paid is far beyond the 

benefits.  Health minister, Aleksei Yablakov, has completed a two-year 

study which shows a bewildering array of ominous health trends including 

increases in anemia, tuberculosis, infectious hepatitis and acute upper 

respiratory tract infections which are linked to the intensity of 

pesticide use, water pollution and suspended particulate matter well in 

excess of established international norms.   The  graphic representation 

below  illustrates the trend of infectious hepatitis.


                (Compiled from data in Ecocide, Murray Feshbach, 1992.) 

(Figure #8)

        Figure #8 projects the trend in the occurrence of hepatitis.  

Hepatitis (which includes both hepatitis A & hepatitis B) is commonly 

used as a reliable indicator for water quality.  Figure #8 illustrates an 

increasing trend which projects continued poor quality water for the 

Russian Federation.  This trend demonstrates the need to formulate a 

program designed to remediate the poor quality of water in Russia.  It 

also adds another component to the overall environmental picture of Russia.     

        The environmental situation in the FSU is serious, and with the 

addition of nuclear waste problems the situation is grave.  The 

eventuality for all of the indiscriminate use of nuclear technology is a 

somber future for the citizens of the former republics of the USSR.  As 

many as 120 civilian underground explosions have been carried out in the 

USSR over the past four decades and about 1,000 more under military 

operations.  There are 54 civilian nuclear power plants in the former 

USSR, operated in ways that would be considered less-than-safe by 

International standards.  There are many radioactive waste sites, even in 

densely populated areas: 636 in Moscow; 200 in Omsk and 1,400 in St. 

Petersburg.  These commonplace sources take a toll in morbidity, as do 

the dramatic events, such as the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986.  

Over 650,000 people were exposed to radiation at Chernobyl and a 1992 

commission found 1,700 cases of thyroid cancer (200 of them children) 

believed to have resulted from that accident.   Currently, the average 

life expectancy in men in the Former Soviet Union is lower than the 

pension age.    Compare the following graphic projection, which further 

delineates future trends in birth and death rates in Russia. 


        (Information taken from the World Resource Database - WRD)      

Figure #9


        (Information taken from the World Resource Database - WRD)      

Figure #10

        When one compares the previous two curves (Figures #9 & #10) the 

differences in the projections do not appear to be serious since the 

deaths project a range of deaths from 4000 to 5500 (using linear or 

exponential methods) in the year 2030. The births projected to the year 

2030 are estimated reach approximately 5800 to nearly 6000.  The erratic 

nature of the births curve is a concern..  The births have displayed this 

behavior since 1950 and would appear to be normally eccentric in the 

Russian Federation (and FSU) population.  I submit, however, that this 

erratic nature is a product of decades of environmental problems and will 

be more susceptible to increasing  spikes and valleys as the 

concentrations of pollutants increases.

        The Komi problem described earlier in this paper is duplicated 

all over the Former Soviet Union.  In this particular instance there are 

clear data projections and a definite potential program to reverse the 

environmental destruction that so defines the legacy of the FSU.  The 

Komi Republic has some unique features that make it both attractive and 

practical to begin a new environmental program.  The remoteness of its 

location make it necessary to govern more independently.  Its remoteness 

has also contributed to the fact that less environmental damage has 

occurred there than in other regions of the FSU.

        Komi is the site of the cleanest water in Europe (located in the 

Pechoro-Illych Biosphere), which is something worth saving.  The mighty 

Pechora River is the last stronghold of virgin Atlantic salmon 

fisheries.  The city of Ukhta is the focal point of the oil and natural 

gas extraction coming out of the Siberian oil fields.  The largest pulp 

and paper complex in Europe is located 10 miles from the capital city of 

Syktyvkar.  This paragraph illustrates the conflicts  and potential for 

conflicts among environmentalists and capitalists in the Republic.  Since 

the people have long been oppressed it is only natural to ignore the 

environment for economic gain which


would make them at least comfortable.  The Komi people realize that the 

land exists for future generations.  They have a very active Green Party 

in Komi and have a published newspaper called Cheesta Pechora. (Literally 

translated this means clean Pechora)  Officials in the Troitsko-Pechorsk 

district (see map #2 and attachment in appendix) have taken measures to 

further protect the Pechoro-Illychsky biosphere which is located within 

the area of this district.  A one-half kilometer wide buffer zone has 

been delineated on the ground around the entire perimeter of the 

biosphere to insure protection against encroachment from logging.  Legal 

pressure is limited, but the citizens of the district apply public 

pressure to maintain the pristine conditions of the biosphere and in this 

district the pressure has had a positive effect.  However, long-term, 

legal solutions to the environmental problems seem less positive since 

policies and laws originate within the government and the bureaucratic 

snarl that pervades the legacy of the Communist Party.  

        The Komi Republic has taken a positive initiative by developing a 

project name of Eckom.  The project, infused in the educational system, 

is teaching children at all grade levels about the dangers of improper 

ecosystem management. But without significant policy modifications or 

changes even this worthwhile project may be rendered useless.  

        The following two graphic projections pertain specifically to the 

Komi Republic.  The curves confirm that Komi also appears to be 

consistent with data from the Russian Federation and FSU.  In both 

instances the curves indicate trends that require further attention and 

more sufficient quantitative analysis.  The  first set of curves (Figure 

#10) relates the frequency of upper respiratory infections in the Komi 

Republic which are presumably linked to air pollutants from pulp and 

paper complexes, coal mining facilities and other industrial complexes 

with insufficient or non-existent pollution abatement equipment. 


        (Information from the Komi Government - Tentakov, 1995) Figure #11

        Although the death rate does not appear to seriously accelerating 

it nevertheless indicates an increasing trend. Trends such as this are 

not considered serious but when combined with other data a complete 

picture is constructed which indicates serious long-term, health 

problems.  Poor health is directly proportional to poor environmental 


        (Information from the Komi Government - Tentakov, 1995) Figure #12

        As one can see there is an increasing trend in both curves.  

Unless remediation strategies are implemented  this trend will continue 

and may begin to accelerate.  The ecosystem variation dictates a varied 

environmental management program.  However, the only method to initiate 

such a program is to bring about a change in policy at the government 

level.  With mathematical projections illustrating negative trends it 

seems logical to explore other relationships to determine if similar 

trends are evident.  When more data becomes available for the Komi 

Republic transition dynamics will be applied as it was for the Soviet 

Collapse.   If these transitions display similar behavior to those 

transitions explored in the collapse and quantitative data support the 

transitions' behavior then there is a need to implement timely and 

fundamental policy changes are necessary.   The legacy of the CPSU 

(Communist Party of the Soviet Union) still maintains a hold on the 

bureaucratic process.  It will be a difficult task to persuade the 

Russian government to allow Komi and other regions in Russia to develop a 

new  set of specific environmental laws and regulations, with an active 

and efficient  enforcement arm.  By utilizing the processes described in 

this paper along with additional quantitative data perhaps changes in the 

environmental policy structure can be realized.  

        The following summarizes desirable policy recommendations for the 

Komi Republic based on the interpretation of data acquired during research:

1.      The Russian Federation has such a huge land area and such 

ecosystem diversity it is not reasonable to try to administrate 

environmental policy with one general guideline.  Therefore, it is 

incumbent upon the Russian Federation to consider modifying the structure 

of policy administration.  The Federation could model their policy 

similar to the United States.  Moscow  would supply general guidelines as 

a baseline with which to work.  The environmental policy structure would 

be decentralized and the responsibility for the development of specific 

environmental standards would be the task of the administrative apparatus 

located in the seats of government at the Republics level.

2.      The development of the enforcement section of the judicial system 

in the Federation Government will be slow.  Therefore, I recommend that 

at the Republics level a task force is assembled, with appropriate 

distribution among government officials, technical experts, 

environmentalist and industry representatives.  This task force can begin 

to formulate a workable plan to allow  for environmental remediation and 

still maintain functional economic standards.  What is the incentive for 

this type of consensus-building?  Agreements which originate from this 

type of consensus process would be "grandfathered" out of new laws 

enacted by the Moscow government at a later date.   Of course there would 

be limits to this exemption.

3.      The Komi Republic needs to adopt specialized regulations which 

reflect the ecosystem diversity in the Republic.  A "biome environmental 

policy" should be considered as one alternative.  Technical assistance 

for such a policy is easily obtainable from the Ural Division of the 

Russian Academy of Sciences in Syktyvkar.

4.      Refer to the organization chart of the Komi government (In the 

Appendix).  The minister of natural resources must have direct contact 

with Moscow.  The current organization creates the potential for 

confusion and redundancy.

5.      Each of the 20 districts in Komi must have the freedom to form 

planning boards and to adopt local ordinances which are, in turn, 

recognized and aided by the Komi and Moscow governments.  Local 

enforcement will be successful only if backed up by government policy.

6.      The number of inspectors in each of the districts must be 

increased.  The geographic size of the districts and poor road systems 

create inefficiency.  A larger number of inspectors will alleviate some 

of the inefficiency problems.  The inspectors should be required to have 

a strong scientific and environmental background with practical 

experience and university backgrounds preferable. And they should be paid 

accordingly.  Their work will have a significant effect on the overall 

environmental policy and remediation process.

        The Komi Republic is a unique area in the Russian Federation.  

Due to its vast wealth of natural resources it has enjoyed relative 

prosperity compared to other areas of the Russian Federation and the 

FSU.  The Komi people and the Russians who live in Komi share the common 

goal of maintaining  Komi as a sustainable society.  Poor economic 

conditions and environmental degradation threaten this sustainability 

unless properly addressed.  By combining the ideas outlined in this paper 

with other innovative ideas from the Komi residents it is likely that 

Komi will succeed.  This success, however, is a function of environmental 

policy and decision-making strategies.  Komi and Russia are quickly 

approaching a critical period when poor decision-making could cause their 

serious environmental situation to accelerate towards disaster.   If they 

act quickly it not too late for resolution.


Attachment:  Maps #1 and #2.


Attachment with Biome Map (#3)

Areas and delineations for  the forest biomes of the Komi Republic


Biome           Percentage              Square Kilometers       

                                of Area 


Mountain Tundra         10.2            42513.6 


Arctic Tundra           2.4             10003.2 


Wooded Tundra           6.4             26675.2 


Northern Taiga          40              166720  


Central Taiga           38              158384  


Southern Taiga          3               12504   


                100             416,800 



Attachment with Komi District Map (#4)

and flow chart

region  name of region  area    population      administrative  population

                1000 sq km      1000's of people        center  1000's of people


1       Syktyvkar       0.7     242.6   Syktyvkar       226.3

2       Vorkuta 24.2    209.7   Vorkuta 113.5

3       Vuktill 22.5    26.3    Vuktill 18.8

4       Inta    30.1    68.4    Inta    59.9

5       Pechora 28.9    92.4    Pechora 64.8

6       Sosnogorsk      19.4    62.1    Cosnogorsk      31.2

7       Usinsk  30.6    70.9    Usinsk  53.2

8       Ukhta   10.3    140.8   Uhkta   110.9

9       Ijem    18.4    24.3    Ijma    4.1

10      Knyajpogost     24.6    36.7    Emva    18.9

11      Koigorod        10.4    12.2    Koigorodok      3.1

12      Kortker 19.7    27.7    Kortkeros       4.8

13      Preloz  13.2    29.4    Obyachevo       5.8

14      Syktyvdin       7.4     28.2    Vwilgort        11.2

15      Sissola 6.2     19.3    Vizinga 7.5

16      Troitsko-Pechorsk       40.7    25.3    Troitsko-Pechorsk       10.8

17      Udorsk  35.8    31.8    Koslan  4.2

18      Ust-Vweem       4.8     40.6    Aikino  3.8

19      Ust-Kulom       26.4    39.7    Ust-Kulom       5.7

20      Ust-Tselem      42.5    17.3    Ust-Tsulma      5.4


        Total   416.8   1245.7          

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