52nd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regions in Motion - Breaking the Path", 21-25 August 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia
The objective of the paper is to analyze a city network of the Russian Federation (the RF) in order to understand how the existing urban pattern correlates with the aim and strategic directions of a contemporary regional policy. To reach this goal the present hierarchy of Russian urban system will be analyzed, on the base of population size, level of urban functions and accessibility of transport system. The paper will present strengths and weaknesses of current urban system structure. The regional development of the RF has specific features due to a set of historical, political, economical and social aspects. The Soviet period of planned economy had significantly influenced the territorial development of the country. For a long time Russia had been in a self-isolation condition and, as result, it had the unique planned system with their specific terminology, distributive mechanisms and administrative regulations. In the contemporary Russia regional planning is switching over to a new stage. Apparently Russia seems have been reached the era of so-called "regional revolution" later than the other industrial countries. Now we can observe a creep from sectoral (industrial) planning to territorial development planning. On the one hand, Russia tries to devise a regional development strategy based on the principles of polarization. The budget levelling policy is substituted by the growth pole policy. The "open question" is: which regions and cities could be the poles for the future country's development? Thereby, realization of a new regional policy demands development of a suitable information, data base, statistics, researches, etc. On the other hand, in the RF is emerging a progressive bifurcation between socio-economic policies and spatial planning. The regional policy is realized without territorial binding. The role and place of the city is indefinite in the regional policy. The issue concerning which cities should be alive in national and global competition is still under discussion. The research methodology is based on the analysis of existing planning and strategic documents of the federal, regional and local levels in the RF, as well as on a retrospective analysis of Russian population settlement pattern and in carrying out a comparative analysis. The adequacy of research will be ensured by using a statistical data of the RF.