Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 356

356 Arctic Yearbook 2014 Vladimir Putin’s presidency in 2007 (Connolly 2011: 431), it was the economic crisis of 2008–2009 that accelerated political aspirations to boost economic diversification in Russia from the local right up to the state level, with a drive to economic modernization by the then president Dmitri Medvedev (Foxall 2014: 98–99). These aspirations materialized in a centrally-led programme for Russian single-industry towns by the Ministry of the Regional Development (hereafter Minregion)1, which sought to boost economic diversification in such towns. Single-industry towns in the Russian North are the product of the historical industrialization of the region (Blakkisrud 2006: 39). They face the challenge of transforming their economic profile from one based on heavy industry to one based on services as well as modernizing old enterprises and becoming innovation centres for the surrounding areas (Pilyasov 2013: 3). Overcoming their industrial legacy and diversifying the local economy, although especially challenging, is crucial for sustainable local development in the singleindustry towns of the Russian North (Pilyasov 2013: 3), where socio-economic sustainability is strongly connected with environmental sustainability (Tynkkynen 2007: 865). Russia’s regional policies are spatially selective (Tykkyläinen 2010: 17). The federal state has awarded privileges to certain places and regions by funding large projects and with regional policy instruments, which resemble the Soviet era policies. In addition the spatial priorities are in continuous change. While the single-industry towns, dispersed across the country, were the main focus after the latest crises, currently the focus of the Russian state is on development of the Far Eastern regions, North Caucasus and the Republic of Crimea, which all ha