History of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
The first people settled on the territory of modern Yakutia in remote ages. Archaeologists of the Republic have determined that ancient people began settling here by the early Paleolithic age. The first archaeological monuments appeared here during this time, they date back to the period between 300 thousand and 3 million years ago.
The largest group among the indigenous peoples of the republic, giving the latter its name, is the Yakut (self-name Sakha). They take up a distinctive position characterized by their language, traditional culture and physical appearance. Although the Yakut language belongs to the Turkic languages, it comprises a high percentage of 25.5 per cent of words of Mongolian origin and nearly 4 per cent of words of Tungus-Manchurian origin.
Presumably the Turkic tribes settled on the territory of modern Yakutia in a number of migration waves, the latest happened to take place in the 14-15 centuries. It is generally assumed that during the period of its formation an ethnic group adjusts to a certain landscape. Accordingly, Yakuts have formed as a nationality in the basin of the middle reaches of the river Lena , i.e. on the territory of central Yakutia.
Forefathers of the Yakut were able to preserve and develop the structure of their economy based on horse-breeding and stock-raising in the extreme conditions of the North, they introduced handicraft industry (blacksmithing, jewellery, pottery etc.) and construction of permanent housing to the region. By the beginning of the 17th century Yakut clans resided in the basins of the Indigirka and Yana rivers, promoting the culture of livestock-raising and herd horse-breeding into the arctic regions of Yakutia.
Yakut legends describe the 17th century as the epoch of Tygyn and tygynids. An academician A.P. Okladnikov called him a Yakutian czar. As Okladnikov wrote in the first volume of the History of Yakutia , the figure of Tygyn, the wise old man, the lord and the powerful warrior, the chosen one, as his congeners pictured him, merged with the majestic images of epic heroes and gods during his lifetime. Finally Tygyn's death was on its own connected with the most crucial moment in the life of the Yakut people, the arrival of the Russians, and was depicted with the magnificence of the epic drama.
The annexation of Yakutia by the Russian empire had a great impact on the lives of the indigenous peoples of the region. In the first quarter of the 17th century Cossack explorers reached the banks of the river Lena. The winter quarters and forts built by the Russians, Yakutsk, Zhigansk, Verhoyansk, Zashiversk, Srednekolimsk, and others have become the outposts of the Russian colonists to advance further to the northeast of Asia, the Far East and the northwest of America.
The Yakutski ostrog (fort) was founded in 1632. It laid the ground for the future city of Yakutsk , which has now grown into the capital of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). This date is considered to be the date of the annexation of Yakutia by the Russian Empire. Yakutski uyezd (district) was formed in 1638, later becoming the Yakutskaya province (1775) and the Yakutskaya oblast (region) (1784) of the Irkutskaya province.
Mass christening of the indigenous population took place in the 18 th century. The development of the public schooling and the education of the peoples of Yakutia, emergence of native literatures, and the intensification of the process of interactions between the civilizations has been associated with the work of the clergy of the Russian Orthodox Church.
From the moment of the annexation of Yakutia to the Russian empire the indigenous peoples always sought to build these relations on legal acts and agreements to obtain the right of self-government. However, the Russian policy toward Yakutia was always predominated by the interests of the central authorities. Up until the 20 th century the republic's economy rested on stock-raising, hunting, and an element of arable farming. Yakutia stepped into the new 20 th century as an economically weak and a politically impotent outskirt.
The breakthrough came in the twenties of the 20 th century, as a result of the formation of the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic within the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on April 27, 1922 . This political move gave the legal, constitutional base for the foundation of the statehood within the limits of the autonomous republic. The people of Yakutia associate this period marked with hopes and aspirations with the name of Maxim Kirovich Amosov, one of the founders of autonomous Yakutia. From this moment on the republic have gone through a complex historical epoch of economic, social and spiritual development.
The soviet period in the history of Yakutia was marked by large-scale industrial development of its natural resources, the ground for which was laid by the mining of Aldan gold-fields during the twenties. The North sea-route was put into use in the 30s, at the same period Tiksi, the sea port, was built in the estuary of the river Lena , and navigable water and airways connected previously difficult to access regions of the republic. In the 50s the discovery of diamond pipes in the western part of the republic helped create a powerful industrial diamond-mining infrastructure.
September 27, 1990 , was the beginning of a new stage in the history of Yakutia, on this day with the active support of the republic's population the Declaration of national sovereignty was adopted. The post of the President of the Republic was introduced in October of 1991. Mikhail Efimovich Nikolaev became the first President of the Republic. It was then that the name of the republic changed to the Sakha Republic (Yakutia).
From the beginning of 90s the republic went through the transition to market economy in the course of the processes within Russia . The fundamental changes in the social and economic structure and labor relations came as a result of the change of ownership, the liberalization of prices, and privatization of businesses. At present the economic development of the republic is more and more defined by the different types of ownership, the effect of market regulators, and the implementation of market mechanisms.
During the first years of the reform the Republic lost the necessary conditions to complete the construction of the begun and virtually launched facilities of the extractive and power industries, it also lacked the material and financial resources for the technical re-equipment and the development of the extractive industry. The growth potential of manufacturing activities, which aimed at multiple use of raw materials in order to increase the turnout of competitive export-oriented products, decreased. These problems were accompanied by new structural problems, associated with a sudden cutback of advancing to the republic's extractive industries, as well as the lack of a real mechanism for the extractive industry businesses to function in the new economic conditions.
The structural reconstruction of the republic's economy stimulated activities to create and develop processing industries, including diamond-cutting, jewelry, stone-working, oil-refinery, gas-transferring, carpentry, primary agricultural products processing, light and food industries.
The government of the republic carried out an antirecessionary program in 1998 under the pressure of the economic and financial situation. Since 1999 the favorable conditions on the market, the implications of the dollar's rate increase, and the execution of the state policy on the development of the real sector of economy defined positive economic trends. For the first time, there was an increase in the gross regional product. The growth rate of the industrial and agricultural production went up. The financial status of export-oriented manufacturing improved. The investment activity increased. The unemployment rate went down, and the population's incomes went up.
The economic reforms carried out by the new leaders of the republic, headed by the President of the Republic, Vyacheslav Shtirov, the Republic Vice-president, Alexander Akimov, and the government of Yakutia headed by the Chairman, Egor Borisov, are aimed at the structural reconstruction of the economy. A long-term policy of developing the isolated regions of the republic, associated with the exploitation of the richest scarce mineral deposits, brought about the immediate growth of mineral resource industry (especially the non-ferrous metals industry) and the fuel and energy complex, thus damaging other industries and the infrastructure of the republic, as well as the lack of balance between the main sectors of the economy and the operating industries of material production.
At the end of 20 th century, the period of the republic's transition to market economy, this lead to the limitations of the economic growth. The consumer market is undeveloped in the republic, and there is a heavy dependency on the seasonal imports of goods. The latter is also known as the Northern delivery and demands a withdrawal of large quantities of monetary funds.
At the turn of the century the republic's economy developed aiming to overcome its raw material orientation and the singular structure of the regional economy. Due to the growth of the diamond-extraction, oil and gas, and coal industries, the extractive industry accounts for the 80 per cent of the republic's industry.
The effective creation of the processing industries may be considered the top priority in the economic development of the republic, as well as the diamond, oil and gas and transport complexes, which are strategically important. Most of the directions of the economic development and the economy as a whole are characterized by their export orientation. The production volume and the sales of high-quality products, competitive on the foreign market, are becoming the main industrial indicators.
To achieve a steadier economic and financial status of the national economy, as well as to provide for the careful use of the natural resources for the sake of the future generations, the leaders of the republic are carrying out a planned state policy of the structural reconstruction of the economy.
The new strategy for the economic development, carried out in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), is aimed at using more of the oil and gas, forest and other natural resources, the creation of new manufacturing activities, as well as the additional specialization on the production of the finished product that would satisfy the demands of the domestic market.
As a result, the republic has seen an increase in the production volume of diamonds, oil, coal, electricity, oil products, timber, cement, brilliants, jewelry and fur goods, as well as other consumer goods and industrial products on the whole. The growth potential of the capital construction, agriculture, transport and different types of services has become clear.
The labor market revived/activated and the unemployment rate went down. Wages not only increased, but also the indebtedness on the payment of wages is gradually being discharged.
These positive trends have to be secured and to continue on.