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Kaliningrad Oblast ( , Kaliningradskaya oblast) is a federal subject of Russiamarker (an oblast) situated on the Balticmarker coast. Population: 968,200 (2004 est.); .

The oblast forms the westernmost part of the Russian Federation, but it has no land connection to the rest of Russia. Since the fall of the Soviet Union it has been an exclave of Russia surrounded by Lithuaniamarker, Polandmarker, and the Baltic Seamarker. Borderless travel to the main part of Russia is only possible by sea or air. This political isolation became more pronounced when Lithuaniamarker and Polandmarker both became members of the European Union and NATOmarker, and entered the Schengen Zone, which means that the oblast is surrounded by the territories of these organizations as well.

The oblast's largest city and the administrative center is Kaliningradmarker (formerly known as Königsbergmarker), which has historical significance as both a major city of the historical state of Prussia and the capital of the former Germanmarker province of East Prussia, partitioned after World War II between the USSRmarker and Polandmarker, and renamed after Mikhail Kalinin.

The territory of the Kaliningrad Oblast coincides with that of the northern part of historical East Prussia (a part of Germanymarker until 1945) which was attributed to the Russian SFSR by the Potsdam Conference, excluding the Memelland which was attached to the Lithuanian SSR inside the Soviet Unionmarker.

Geography

Kaliningrad Oblast is an exclave of Russiamarker surrounded by Lithuaniamarker, Polandmarker, and the Baltic Seamarker.

Notable geographical features include:

Kaliningrad Oblast covers the northern part of the area of former East Prussia, which was an exclave of the Weimar Republic.

Politics

Kaliningrad Oblast


The current governor (since 2005) of Kaliningrad Oblast is Georgy Boos, who succeeded Vladimir Yegorov.

The EU and Russia have had serious political debate over the oblast territory. The enlargement of the EU in 2004, which saw Poland and Lithuania become member states, meant that the oblast now has land borders only with the EU. Issues of security have been at the forefront of debate, with high relevance to the Schengen Agreement.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, some intellectuals and government officials in the oblast openly discussed the region separating from Russia. In the mid-1990s, Yury Matochkin, the oblast's first post-Soviet governor, demanded a special relationship with the EU and threatened with a referendum on secession, abetting fears in Moscow about the centrifugal forces of separatism. His attempts at elevating the oblast's status to that of a sovereign republic associated with the Russian Federation yielded no results. Around the same time, the secessionist Baltic Republican Party, banned in 2005, aimed at establishing the oblast as the "fourth Baltic state". However, an organized secessionist movement has never emerged there and surveys indicate strong support for remaining a part of Russia.

History

East Prussia

The region of what is now Kaliningrad Oblast was inhabited during the Middle Ages by tribes of Old Prussians in the western part and Lithuanians in the eastern part by the Pregolyamarker and Alna Rivers. The Teutonic Knights conquered the region and established a monastic statemarker. On the foundations of a destroyed Prussian settlement known as Tvanksta, the Order founded the major city of Königsbergmarker (modern Kaliningradmarker). Germans and Poles resettled the territory and assimilated the indigenous Old Prussians. The Lithuanian-inhabited areas became known as Lithuania Minor. In 1525, Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg secularised the Prussian branch of the Teutonic Order and established himself as the sovereign of the Duchy of Prussiamarker, the Polish fief, later inherited by the Margravate of Brandenburg. The region was reorganized into the Province of East Prussia within the Kingdom of Prussiamarker in 1773.


East Prussia was an important center of German culture. Many important figures, such as Immanuel Kant and E. T. A. Hoffmann, originated from this region. The cities of Kaliningrad Oblast, despite being heavily damaged during World War II and after, still bear typical German architecture, such as Jugendstil, showing the rich German history and cultural importance of the area. The Lithuanian-speaking community in East Prussia diminished due to organic Germanization and cultural assimilation; in the early 20th century Lithuanians made up a majority only in rural parts of the far northeast of East Prussia (Memelland and Minor Lithuania), the rest of the area being overwhelmingly German-speaking.

The Memel Territory (Klaipėda region), formerly part of northeastern East Prussia, was annexed by Lithuania in 1923 after World War I. After coming to power in 1933, the Nazi regime in Germany radically altered about a third of the place names (the ones not of German origin) of this area by artificially replacing most names of Old Prussian or Lithuanian origin into newly invented German names in 1938.

Kaliningrad Oblast

During World War II the Sovietmarker Red Army entered the eastern-most tip of East Prussia on August 29, 1944 near Goldapmarker and Nemmersdorf. Evidence of the massacre committed by the Soviet troopsmarker in the East Prussian village of Nemmersdorfmarker spread panic in the province and urged a mass flight westward. However, in spite of this, the Nazis kept East Prussia's civil population firmly at home by threat of a death-penalty for 'cowardly deserting'. As evacuation was only allowed at the very last moment, many were unable to escape — overrun by Soviet units or caught at home. They were killed by the Soviet army , as well as by the severe frost.

More than two million people were evacuated, many of them via the Baltic Seamarker. The remaining population was deported after the war ended and the area was repopulated primarily by the Russians and, to a lesser extent, by the Ukrainians and Belarusians.

The Potsdam Agreement of world powers assigned northern East Prussia to the Soviet Union pending the final determination of territorial questions at the peace settlement:
VI. CITY OF KOENIGSBERG AND THE ADJACENT AREA

The Conference examined a proposal by the Soviet Government that pending the final determination of territorial questions at the peace settlement the section of the western frontier of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics which is adjacent to the Baltic Seamarker should pass from a point on the eastern shore of the Bay of Gdanskmarker to the east, north of Braunsbergmarker and Goldapmarker, to the meeting point of the frontiers of Lithuaniamarker, the Polish Republicmarker and East Prussia.

The Conference has agreed in principle to the proposal of the Soviet Government concerning the ultimate transfer to the Soviet Union of the city of Koenigsberg and the area adjacent to it as described above, subject to expert examination of the actual frontier.

The President of the United States and the British Prime Minister have declared that they will support the proposal of the Conference at the forthcoming peace settlement. [2449]
In 1957, an agreement was signed and later came into force which delimited the boundary between Poland and the Soviet Union,

According to some accounts from the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet government had planned to make the rest of the area a part of the Lithuanian SSR immediately after World War II . The area was administered by the planning committee of the LSSR, although the area had its own Party committee. However, the leadership of the Lithuanian SSR (especially Antanas Sniečkus) refused to take the territory mainly because of its devastation during the war . Some modern nationalistic Lithuanian authors say that the reason for the refusal was the Lithuanians' concern to find themselves on equal demographic terms with the Russian population within the Lithuanian SSR. Instead the region was added as an exclave to the Russian SFSR, and since 1946 it has been known as Kaliningrad Oblast. According to some historians, Joseph Stalin created it as an oblast separate from the LSSR because it further enclosed the Baltic republics from the West. Names of the cities, towns, rivers, and other geographical objects were changed into newly-created Russian ones.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the independence of the Baltic states caused Kaliningrad Oblast to be separated from the rest of Russia by other countries instead of other Soviet republics. Some ethnic Germans began to migrate to the area, especially Volga Germans from other parts of Russia and Kazakhstanmarker, especially after Germany stopped granting free right of return to ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union. The economic situation has been badly affected by the geographic isolation (and the large reduction in the size of the Russian military garrison which was previously one of the major employers), especially when neighboring nations imposed strict border controls when they joined the European Union. Russian proposals for visa-free travel between the EU and Kaliningrad have so far been rejected by the EU. Travel arrangements based on the Facilitated Transit Document (FTD) and Facilitated Rail Transit Document (FRTD) have been made.

In recent times, the situation started to change, but very slowly. Germany and Lithuania have renewed contact with Kaliningrad Oblast through town twinning and other projects. This has helped to promote interest in the history and the culture of the East Prussian and Lietuvininkai communities.

Military

Kaliningrad Oblast is the most militarized area of the Russian Federation, and the density of military installations is the highest in Europe. Kaliningrad is a headquarters of Russian Baltic Fleet circled by Chernyakhovsk marker, Donskoye marker, and Kaliningrad Chkalovskmarker (naval air base).

The Washington Times claimed on January 3, 2001, citing anonymous intelligence reports, that Russia had transferred tactical nuclear weapons into a military base in Kaliningrad for the first time since the Cold War ended. Russian top-level military leaders denied those claims. A Pentagon spokesperson stated that deployment would violate Russian pledge that Russia was removing nuclear weapons from the Baltics. Russia and the United States announced in 1991 and 1992 a non-binding agreement to reduce arsenals of tactical nuclear weapons. On the eve of the reunification of Germany, Helmut Kohl promised Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO's military infrastructures would not move eastward into the territory of East Germanymarker, a fact since confirmed by the former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock. Later Russia was privately assured that Eastern European states would not seek membership in NATO. Today, while NATO has not established any military infrastructure in Eastern Germany yet, both Central European and Baltic countries are NATO members.

On November 5, 2008, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev said that Russia would deploy Iskander missiles in the oblast as a response to U.S. plans for basing missile defense missiles in Poland. Equipment to electronically hamper the operation of future U.S. missile facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic also would be deployed, he said.

However, on January 28, 2009, a Russian defense official stated that the deployment of short-range missiles into Kaliningrad Oblast would cease due to perceived changes in the attitude of the United States government towards the Russian Federation following the election of United States President Barack Obama.

Administrative divisions

Demographics

Population

According to the 2002 Census the population of the region was 955,281 (78% urban; 22% rural). Kaliningrad Oblast is the fourth most densely populated in the Russian Federation, with 62.5 persons per km2. Almost none of the pre-World War II Lithuanian population (Lietuvininks) or German population remain in Kaliningrad Oblast.

Ethnic groups

According to the 2002 Census, the national composition included: as well as other groups of less than three hundred persons each. An additional 0.93% of residents declined to state their nationality or ethnocultural identity on the census questionnaire.

Economy

Kaliningrad Oblast's economy is positively influenced by several factors, such as ice-free ports, the world's largest amber deposits and proximity to European countries. The region also has a developed tourist infrastructure, unique museums and monuments, and tourist attractions such as the famous Curonian Spitmarker.

In order to combat the oblast's economic problems such as high unemployment, in 1996 the Russian authorities granted Kaliningrad special economic status and tax advantages intended to attract investors. Oblast's economy has since benefited substantially, and in recent years experienced a boom. A US$45 million airport terminal has been opened, and the European Commission provides funds for business projects under its special program for the region. The oblast has begun to see increasing trade with the countries of the EU as well as increasing economic growth and rising industrial output.

According to official statistics, the Gross Regional Product in 2006 was 115 billion roubles. GRP per capita in 2007 was 155,668.9 rubles.

Industry

The oblast has transport (railcars) and heavy equipment (crane) plants. Car and truck assembly (GM, BMW, Kia, Yuejin), and production of auto parts are growing industries. There are shipbuilding facilities in Kaliningrad and Sovetskmarker. Food processing is a mature industry in the region. OKB Fakel– a world leader in the field of Hall thruster development and a leading Russian developer and manufacturer of electric propulsion systems is based in Nemanmarker. The company employs 960 people.

Natural resources

Kaliningrad Oblast possesses more than 90% of the world's amber deposits. Most of the mined amber is processed outside of the region, both in Russia and in other countries.

There are small oil reservoirs beneath the Baltic Sea not far from Kaliningrad's shore. Small-scale offshore exploration started in 2004 and some Baltic countries (Poland and Lithuania), as well as local NGOs voiced concerns regarding possible environmental impact.

Fishing

Fishing is one of the important regional industries, with big fishing ports in Kaliningrad and Pionerskymarker (formerly Neukuhren) and lesser ones in Svetly and Rybachymarker.

Power generation

Average yearly power consumption in the Kaliningrad Oblast was 3.5 bln kWh in 2004 with local power generation providing just 235 mln. kWh. The balance of energy needs required was imported from neighbouring countries. A new Kaliningrad power station was built in 2005, covering 50% of the oblast's energy needs. A second power station is scheduled to enter service in 2010, making the oblast independent from electricity imports. There are plans to build two nuclear power reactorsmarker in the eastern part of Kaliningrad.

References

  • Simon Grunau, Preußische Chronik. Hrsg. von M. Perlbach etc., Leipzig, 1875.
  • A. Bezzenberger, Geographie von Preußen, Gotha, 1959


Sources



External links




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