Monday, April 23, 2007

Khanti-Mansiisk. Oil like in Arabia. With a touch of Finnish design.

This does not look very Finnish to me... The photo is from a Russian oil field, probably but not necessarily from Khanti-Mansiisk.

Ever fancied being an oil billionaire, a tycoon controlling the huge delta with oil pumps popping up from the ground like mushrooms? Well, come to think of it, eh... Yes, I would spend some extra to the human rights works, for sure.

But our relatives, the Fenno-Ugrien people in Khanti-Mansiisk live on oil. Literally. Above it. But they do not profit from it, and neither would they even want to. They are simple nomads with small, rural villages, valuing their simple lifestyles. But their ancient culture is under a great threat.

This is part of the article recently publish in the Globalist, written by Anatol Lieven:

(quote starts) ...

Come to think of it, the whole of the immense apparatus of the Russian state — with its nuclear arsenal, still-powerful army, public services, giant bureaucracy, vast and overstretched transport network and geopolitical influence — could be described as a huge inverted pyramid whose tip rests on Khanti-Mansiisk.

How could that be? Well in 2005, Khanti-Mansiisk produced 267 million tons of oil, or 57% of Russia’s total production: If it were an independent state, it would have 7.5% of the world’s oil production, second only to Saudi Arabia. With about 1% of Russia’s population, the region contributed 22.7% of the total tax revenues of the Russian Federation.

Khanti-Mansiisk is therefore one of the spots on the earth through which flows the indispensable life-giving heroin, called oil, that permeates the present world economy.

Foreign appearance

It flows similarly through the Persian Gulf, the Niger Delta — or, in smaller ways, the North Sea and the bayous of Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. This raised an interesting question in my mind: When it comes to the things that make life worth living for the people who live there, where to place Khanti-Mansiisk on that spectrum?

The town of Khanti-Mansiisk itself looks like a small, very prosperous town in Finland. That is the case for a very good reason — to a considerable extent, Finns built it. When the regional authorities in recent years gained a greater share of their region’s immense revenues, they decided to turn their small capital into a magnificent regional showcase.

Finnish influences

They chose mainly Finnish firms to do this, partly because of the excellence of Finnish design, partly because of a desire to create a regional style with references to the Finno-Ugric origins of the Khanti and Mansy. Those peoples have given the region its name and autonomous status.

(end of quote)

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