Za­por­izhia — the heart of Ukraine’s Rust Belt

Kyiv Post - - Business Focus - BY DENYS KRASNIKOV [email protected]

Za­por­izhia is a city 0f 800,000 peo­ple on the Dnipro River in the heart of Ukraine’s Rust Belt, where fum­ing smoke­stacks and black dust are com­mon sights. It is fa­mous for two things: heavy in­dus­try and the Za­por­izhian Cos­sacks.

But while Cos­sacks are past, large-scale in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion is the city’s present.

Za­por­izhia pro­duces sig­nif­i­cant amounts of metal, elec­tric­ity, air­craft en­gines, cars, and other large-scale goods. In fact, along with Dnipro and Kryvyi Rih, to­day the city is a cen­ter of heavy in­dus­try in Ukraine.

The Soviet Union in­dus­tri­al­ized Za­por­izhia at the be­gin­ning of the 20th cen­tury. The city was built around the plants like Za­por­izh­stal and Dne­prospetsst­al. Even the city’s mayor, Volodymyr Buryak, used to be an en­gi­neer at Za­por­izh­stal.

Later other crit­i­cal fac­to­ries opened in the city: ZAZ — fa­mous for its Za­porozhets and Tavria cars — and air­craft en­gine man­u­fac­turer Mo­tor Sich.

Hence, most of the jobs avail­able for grad­u­ates of Za­por­izhia’s five lo­cal univer­si­ties are blue col­lar. To­gether, Za­por­izh­stal and Mo­tor Sich em­ploy over 35,000 peo­ple. The city is also home to fa­cil­i­ties of in­ter­na­tional firms Carls­berg, Coca Cola, Konecranes, and IVECO.

Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin fa­mously stated that com­mu­nism was Soviet gov­ern­ment plus elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. Un­sur­pris­ingly, while in­dus­tri­al­iz­ing Za­por­izhia, the Sovi­ets wanted to en­sure a con­sis­tent elec­tric­ity sup­ply.

As a re­sult, they erected a dam on the Dnipro — the DniproHES hy­dropower plant — and built a nu­clear power plant in a nearby town called En­er­ho­dar (“En­er­gy­giver”) — it is now Europe’s largest and the world’s fifth largest nu­clear power plant, as it gen­er­ates 6,000 megawatts an­nu­ally.

This out­dated but still func­tional Soviet legacy — along with four so­lar and three wind power sta­tions, all newly built — pro­duces 25 per­cent of Ukraine’s elec­tric­ity.

In to­tal, Za­por­izhia Oblast is re­spon­si­ble for 7.4 per­cent of Ukraine’s to­tal ex­ports. Among the most im­por­tant goods are base met­als ( 56 per­cent), ma­chin­ery and elec­tri­cal equip­ment (19 per­cent).

It takes only 7 hours to get from Kyiv to Za­por­izhia by train, but the change of po­lit­i­cal mood is pal­pa­ble: some 30 per­cent of lo­cals sup­ported pro-Rus­sian presidenti­al can­di­dates Yuriy Boyko and Olek­sandr Vilkul dur­ing the elec­tion on March 31.

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