NewsPutin orders billion-ruble upgrade for isolated Kaliningrad

Putin orders billion-ruble upgrade for isolated Kaliningrad

Królewiec wants to show that the sanctions do not affect them. They are expanding the airport and distributing tickets. In the photo: acting governor.
Królewiec wants to show that the sanctions do not affect them. They are expanding the airport and distributing tickets. In the photo: acting governor.
Images source: © Telegram | Aleksiej Besprizwannych
Tomasz Molga

29 June 2024 11:09

Putin has personally instructed improvements to the transport and food supply in the Kaliningrad region. The Acting Governor, Alexei Besprizwannykh, and the head of the regional airport have announced that 13 billion rubles (120 million pounds) will be allocated to expand the port. Additionally, every region resident will receive four discounted flight tickets to Russia.

Within the next five to six years, Khrabrovo airport near Kaliningrad is set to be expanded to handle 7 million passengers (the region has 1 million residents). Authorities and the company managing the airport will invest 13.5 billion rubles (approximately £106 million). Last year, the airport handled 4.3 million passengers, a record in its history, due to an influx of Russians to the Baltic Sea, as many countries are unwilling to accept tourists from Vladimir Putin's government.

Khrabrovo is one of the twenty largest airports in the Russian Federation in terms of passenger traffic. The airport terminals are owned by the holding company Novaport, owned by entrepreneur Roman Trotsenko. Recently, both the company and Trotsenko were included in the latest EU sanctions package due to their connections with the war in Ukraine. However, the Russian government has assured us that the investment funds will be secured.

"The President is well aware of and understands all the problems of the region. He gave me clear goals. These are primarily transport and food," said Alexei Besprizwannykh to the newspaper "Komsomolskaya Pravda".

In May, Putin summoned him to the Kremlin and entrusted him with the duties of governor of the Kaliningrad region, promoting his predecessor to minister. "The region is remote from the rest of the country. It is important that residents do not feel this separation in the current geopolitical situation," he explained.

Residents of Kaliningrad cut off from Russia. Tickets to console

Poland and Lithuania have not allowed cars with Russian license plates to enter their territories for months. The authorities of Kaliningrad have decided to facilitate travel this year by subsidising airline tickets. Passengers are entitled to two discounted round trips. For the equivalent of £30-£25, one can fly to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk, and Arkhangelsk.

The promotion started on 1 May, but the interest was so high that servers crashed, and the first cheap ticket was issued only after three days, reports the regional service "New Kaliningrad".

Alexei Besprizwannykh announced that the region would need a billion rubles (five times more than planned) for ticket subsidies, which is already being coordinated with Moscow. Discussing cheap tickets and the airport may remind some of the Polish debates about the Central Communication Port. A blogger from Telegram, "Jantarnyj DLB", marked a post about the airport with an image of a clown. Readers of the post criticised it, saying it is better to prevent 10% inflation than to squander money.

Vladimir Putin's man is tidying up

Putin's envoy is working hard to demonstrate what else can be achieved with federal funding. Last week, he visited a rural doctor, criticising the office's peeling paint and falling tiles. " It's a sad sight. I ordered the renovation process to be accelerated for family doctors," he announced on his Telegram channel.

He reviewed the trolleybus depot, where he noted that the vehicles are worn out and new ones will be purchased. He also visited a farm and announced efforts to combat high food prices. "High electricity prices and market margins are to blame," reads his post.

Russian tomatoes are, in his opinion, tastier than imported ones (mostly from Poland). The official opened a breadcrumb factory and also announced that the Awtodor car factory (formerly KIA and BMW brands) will supply electric cars throughout Russia.

"The new acting governor presumably wants to achieve a propaganda effect aimed at improving public moods," commented Prof. Krzysztof Żęgota from the Institute of Political Sciences of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn in an interview with WP.

"In reality, the Kaliningrad region is cut off from the rest of Russia, which drastically worsens the economic conditions of the region. This affects both the price levels and overall economic indicators," explains Prof. Żęgota. He predicts that Besprizwannykh will probably participate in the governor's elections (currently he is acting) and wants to improve his chances of winning the vote.

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