Residential Segregation in a Medium-Sized Post-Soviet City: Ust’-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan

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<ul><li><p>Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 2003, Vol. 94, No. 5, pp. 589605. 2003 by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAGPublished by Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden MA 02148, USA</p><p>RESIDENTIAL SEGREGATION IN A MEDIUM-SIZED POST-SOVIET CITY: UST-KAMENOGORSK, KAZAKHSTAN</p><p>MICHAEL GENTILE</p><p>Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University, Box 513, SE-75120 Uppsala, Sweden. E-mail: michael.gentile@kultgeog.uu.se</p><p>Received: October 2002; revised February 2003</p><p>ABSTRACTThis paper focuses on the occurrence of ethnic and socio-economic residential segregation in Ust-Kamenogorsk, a medium-sized city in Kazakhstan, using data collected by the author incollaboration with the Eastern Kazakhstan oblast statistical authority in an extensive questionnairesurvey carried out during January 2001. Together with the marketisation of the citys housingresources, a number of Soviet legacies, including the major industrial enterprises housingstrategies for their workers and the citys previous status as closed, are identified. Finally, thepaper maps and analyses existing segregation patterns.</p><p>Key words: Kazakhstan, former Soviet Union, residential segregation, post-Soviet cities, planning,survey method</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>This paper discusses ethnic and socio-economicresidential segregation in the medium-sizedpost-Soviet city, using the specific case of Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, as the principalsource of examples and empirical evidence.Thus far, little research has been accomplishedwithin the field and, furthermore, many localpolicy-makers including urban planners seem to be unaware of the existence of residentialsegregation, or of its exacerbating effect onother urban problems. The papers focal issueis the impact of the current transition processon residential segregation patterns andprocesses.</p><p>In the West, residential segregation, espe-cially when coupled with unequal access to soci-etal resources, such as adequate housing andother urban amenities, has been associated withmany of the social problems that are oftenattributed to European large-scale peripheralhousing projects or North-American decaying</p><p>inner city areas (see Cater &amp; Jones 1989,chapter 3). Local and state authorities in manycountries engage in designing and imple-menting effective policies geared at counter-acting the socio-economic polarisation ofurban space, and the degree of success variesfrom case to case (Andersson &amp; Molina 2003).</p><p>Because of its avowed doctrine, some scholarsturned to the socialist world to expand thetheoretical and empirical knowledge basenecessary to deal with segregation, but whensubjected to greater introspection, it too provedto come up short of its established objectives(see for instance Hamilton &amp; Burnett 1979,pp. 285286; Szelnyi 1983; Dangschat 1987;Ciechocinska 1987). Certainly, socialist societiesdid not show the same degree of residentialsegregation as capitalist ones did (Weclawowicz1979; Bater 1989), but access to good housingwas practically connected to social status ormerit (Mateju &amp; Vecernik 1981; Szelnyi 1983;Hegeds 1987; Musil 1987; Szelnyi 1987),producing a socio-spatial outcome similar to</p></li><li><p>590 MICHAEL GENTILE</p><p> 2003 by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG</p><p>that found in capitalist countries, albeit due tomechanisms set in motion by socialist policies.Morton (1984, p. 9) also emphasises the im-portance of unorthodox methods for housingaccess, i.e., influence and bribery. We will neverbe able to verify whether the inequalities inpublic housing distribution were temporary, ashinted by Tosics (1987, p. 69), or a permanentand inherent feature of the socialist system,as Szelnyi (1987) maintained. However, theremoval of most of the previously existingbarriers to research on (post-)socialist socie-ties allows us to reassess the situation in the pastand attentively observe current urban trends inthe region.</p><p>In spite of their significance in terms of shareof the total population, small- and medium-sizedcities in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) andthe former Soviet Union (FSU) have receivedrelatively little attention from the point of viewof urban geography, whereas CEE capital citiesparticularly have been studied both before andafter the events of 1989. Therefore, this papersets out to present some aspects of the urbansocial geography of a medium-sized city in theFSU. The present study, based on an in-depthempirical study of the patterns of socio-spatial differentiation present in todays Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, has two main goals:</p><p>1. to present the patterns of ethnic and socio-economic segregation that characterise thecity, and</p><p>2. to suggest and analyse the probable factorsthat underlie these patterns.</p><p>The study is based on empirical data obtainedfrom an extensive questionnaire survey carriedout in January 2001 by the present author incooperation with the Eastern Kazakhstan oblaststatistical authority. The data are collected inthe Cities of the Rudnyi Altay (2001) database.1</p><p>Very few Soviet sources deal with the formerlytaboo issue of ethnic and socio-economic seg-regation in USSR cities. One of the earliestsources revealing the existence of ethnic resi-dential segregation in the Soviet Union isRukavishnikovs (1980) study on Kazan inRussia, which showed that Tatars and Russianswere unequally distributed throughout thecity. There are, as mentioned above, numeroussources and empirical accounts relating toother Eastern European countries, and a</p><p>significant body of theory about the formationof socio-spatial differentiation patterns in social-ist societies much of which pertains to a his-torical tradition of thought was establishedand debated during the 1980s (Szelnyi 1983,is perhaps the most prominent example).</p><p>Since the tumultuous events of 19891991,there has been an upsurge in interest in bothpre- and post-iron curtain residential segrega-tion in CEE countries and the FSU, and themesrelated to it (suburbanisation, gentrification,etc.), and a wealth of empirical studies hasappeared (Hegeds &amp; Tosics 1991; Smith 1996;Loogmaa 1997; Ruoppila 1998; Kok &amp; Kovcs1999; Khrik 2002, just to name a few), manyof which focus on specific aspects of the newsocio-spatial differentiation of post-Soviet andpost-socialist societies, and perhaps even moreon the strategies for transition within differentspheres, such as housing privatisation policies(Daniell &amp; Struyk 1994; Struyk 1996).</p><p>A general tendency that most authors identifyis an increase in urban/suburban socio-spatialpolarisation, especially in the largest urbanagglomerations. However, less attention hasbeen paid to the significance of the inheritedurban structure and of the complexity of Sovieteconomic, political, ideological and militarystrategic considerations that dictated the con-ditions for the short- and long-term develop-ment of each urban area. These factors,although pertaining to an epoch that finishedover a decade ago, have far-reaching conse-quences for the specificity of post-Soviet urbantransformation. Failure to recognise theirmultidimensional role, for instance, by relyingexcessively on the general characteristics ofmarket economic relations, may have negativeeffects on urban policy, rendering it lesseffective or even counterproductive whenimplemented. In short, it is useful to assessthe relative significance and structure of, inTammarus words (2001a), the Soviet legacyand the logic of transition.</p><p>LEGACY AND TRANSITION: AT THE ROOTS OF THE SOCIO-SPATIAL DIFFERENTIATION OF THE POST-SOVIET CITY</p><p>Establishing the nature of Soviet legacies thatinfluence the urban geography of any city in the</p></li><li><p>RESIDENTIAL SEGREGATION IN A MEDIUM-SIZED POST-SOVIET CITY 591</p><p> 2003 by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG</p><p>FSU is not an easy task. A good point of depar-ture, however, would be to distinguish themaccording to geographical scope, for the impactof implicit and explicit Soviet policies, and oftheir local implementation, on the built en-vironment and social structure of cities rangedfrom the entire USSR to the level of the indi-vidual urban neighbourhood. A good exampleof a USSR-wide policy is the project of nationalintegration, by which Russians in particularwere given incentives to move to other republicsin the Soviet Union, including Kazakhstan (seeTammaru 2001b). The consequences of thispolicy are reflected in the demographic struc-ture of the RSFSR as a labour exporter and inthe ethnic composition of the surroundingrepublics particularly those in the Baltic andCentral Asia as labour importers. Anexample of a policy with significant regionaleffects is the establishment of territorial produc-tion complexes (TPKs), especially in the moreperipheral parts of the Soviet Union. The over-all goal of the TPK was to identify and developthe optimal utilisation of a specific territorysproductive resources (see de Souza 1989, for athorough description of the TPK role in Sovieteconomic planning). The economic essenceof any given TPK non-ferrous metallurgy inthe case of the Rudnyi Altay TPK which Ust-Kamenogorsk belongs to would then more orless determine the future industrial activity andstrategic significance of the urban areas belong-ing to it and, hence, also their future positionin the post-Soviet set of cities. At a local level,economic and power relations within each TPKwere crucial in determining the fate of, and dif-ferentiation between, the TPKs cities. At theneighbourhood level, decisions taken by factorydirectors with regard to urban development,such as the construction of workers housing atspecific locations, are sometimes crucially form-ative of the current spatial differentiation inpost-Soviet cities, Ust-Kamenogorsk providingan interesting case in point, is discussed below.</p><p>rjan Sjberg (1999) has recently presenteda five-stage model of urbanisation under centralplanning, built on the concept of the landscapeof priority. By making use of a shortage-economy approach, he suggests that shifting pat-terns of urban growth in Soviet-style economiesshould be viewed as a corollary of the variableand spatially selective investment priorities that</p><p>were typical of centrally-planned economies.The model manages to encompass three majorgeographical aspects centre-periphery, resourcebase, and city type embracing Soviet-eraregional, functional-type and settlement-sizeurban growth distinctions. If the validity of thebasic idea of the model is extended to othergeographical scales, it is possible to breach thegap between universal and local legacies.Sjbergs intention is to facilitate understand-ing at a broad inter-urban level, but there is rea-son to believe that his line of thought might beequally relevant when transposed to the intra-urban context, implying that the urban struc-ture of any given post-Soviet city is just as mucha complex landscape of priority of its own, as itis an element of the aggregated landscape ofurban growth. Specifically, the relative priorityof the development of any post-Soviet citys par-ticular economic base is, ceteris paribus, directlylinked to its broad spatial development. Hence,a city that had hosted high-priority activities forlonger periods of time is most likely to have suf-fered less from the acute housing shortages thatwere common in other cities. This, however,does not guarantee an optimal distribution ofhousing resources throughout the city. Particu-larly in industrial cities, the specific forms ofurban growth were often left to a handful of fac-tory directors, who more often than not, soughtsolutions that would minimise the workerstravelling distance to work with serious con-sequences for the integral functioning of theurban area.</p><p>Ust-Kamenogorsk, with a current populationof about 300,000 (Agenstvo 2002), grew thanksto a relatively long-lasting period during whichall four of its large enterprises enjoyed high-priority status. These are the Lead-Zinc Combine(STsK, nowadays operated by the Kaztsink cor-poration), the Ulba Metallurgical Plant (UMZ,produces uranium, beryllium and tantalumproducts), the Titanium-Magnesium Combine(TMK), and the Eastern Machinery Plant(VMZ, formerly produced mining and metal-lurgy equipment). The output of one of thefactories, the Ulba Metallurgical Plant, wasdeemed so sensitive that the plant itself was keptsecret and the city was closed to all outsiderswho did not have the obligatory entry permit.This fact is probably one of the most import-ant of Ust-Kamenogorsks inherited Soviet</p></li><li><p>592 MICHAEL GENTILE</p><p> 2003 by the Royal Dutch Geographical Society KNAG</p><p>legacies, as the closure of the city effectivelyreduced the regional urbanisation process to aminimum during most of the Soviet era. Thesudden opening of the citys gates probably ledto an unprecedented inflow of rural migrants,mitigating the population loss which wouldhave occurred otherwise, but also creating newproblems, many resulting in increased ethnictensions in the region (Gentile 2003a). For anycity, a sudden flow of migrants is more difficultto absorb than a slow but constant one.</p><p>In addition to the usual differentiating effectof topography, two other legacy factors arecrucial to the formation of the spatial structureof Ust-Kamenogorsk:</p><p>1. the location of the major industrialenterprises and the spread of pollutantstherefrom, and</p><p>2. Mr Akhat Kulenov.</p><p>Until about 1980, the major industrial enter-prises guaranteed that the majority of theirworkers lived near the factory, by creatingexclusive housing districts in which at leastone member of each household was employedby the enterprise. The housing in these areasis usually quite good, but, in the long run, theenvironmental/health costs of the proximityof stationary sources of pollution probablyoutweigh the advantages of good housing formost people. Furthermore, evidence fromseveral sources points out that there are atleast 400 radioactive hotspots on a surveyedterritory covering only 12% of the total areaof the city (Ustinka+, 08/12/2000; Vostochno-Kazakhstanskoe oblastnoe upravlenie, 2000).</p><p>Since 1980 however, the industrial enter-prises increasingly started building housing inthe central parts of the city. This is particularlytrue of the UMZ, which had the greatest finan-cial resources, due to its high(est)-prioritystatus. Monumental Lenin Square became defacto a UMZ enclave in an area otherwise domin-ated by administrative buildings. The other mainenterprises, with the exception of the TMK,which is located too far from the centre, startedbuilding at semi-central locations.</p><p>Akhat Kulenov is the man who broke thedominant paradigm in factory urban planning,and since he was the director of the citys largestenterprise, the STsK, which he ruled between1985 and 1994, his effect on the structure of the</p><p>city was pervasive. Fascinated by the image ofWestern cottage style living, Kulenov envis-aged the future of Ust-Kamenogorsk as that ofa green paradise in the foothills of the Altaymountains. His ambition was to give his workersgood housing in clean locat...</p></li></ul>