Liudmila Slivinskaya (Technische Universität Darmstadt)

Rural Development in Belarus. “Agrogorodok”: Between Rural and Urban?

The article will explore a phenomenon of “agrogorodok” originated and implemented as state policy of rural revitalization in former soviet country of Belarus beginning with 2005-2010 State Programmeme for Rural Revival & Development and continuing in further 5-years programmemes up till now.

The term “agrogorodok” is defined as a new type of rural settlement which features public facilities, industrial, social and transport infrastructures to ensure a high (here: compared to urban) standard of living for its residents and residents of adjacent territories [1]. Wherein in terms of population it remains well below the size of a town and belongs to the lowest level of rural settlements. Currently over 1500 such settlements have been created (against targeted number of 1481 till 2010 as set in [1]).

The article is to assess critically the policy against the so-called heroic tradition of modernist thinking to reform way of living via large-scale top-down state-led planning projects combining affordable housing, built public infrastructure as applied to declining rural areas. Further, for the current discourse on territorial development is focused almost exclusively on urbanisation, such specific approach targeting rural while having in its core the idea of some sort of urbanisation (understood as approaching urban standard of living in rural areas) is needed to be conceptualised to find its place in addressing and reinventing rurality in urban world. Such invention of a new type aiming at reconciling urban and rural is to be defined and conceptualised as a contribution into typology. The historical context of post-soviet country where continued aggressive state intervention into inter alia rural areas had produced distinct configurations of rural settlements in their transition from traditional to modern enriches as well such exploration of transformative power of ideologies / policy towards landscape. The article tracing almost 15 years of policy implementation reveals yet one more failed promise of salvation grinning through the gap between concept and its real appearance. Methods: policy analysis, spatial analysis, typological analysis.

[1] 2005-2010 State Programmeme for Rural Revival & Development approved by the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus on March 25, 2005 No. 150.
Full-text available here: DOI: 10.1051/SHSCONF/20196305001