During the cultural thaw and de-Stalinization of Russia, many changes were made by the government. These changes included reducing repression and becoming more transparent. Along with these changes came an increased focus on making Russia as a place of renewed culture, learning, and information. That is where the Siberian city of Akademgorodok comes in.
Conceived in the mid 1950’s, the town that would be known as Akademgorodok, which literally translates to “town of science” was created as a research and science center. It was designed to remain as natural as possible, which resulted in tree lined streets in the city and forests all around it. As with most new ventures during de-Stalinization, openness and transparency was encouraged, and the town thrived due to this. Under Stalin, much information was shrouded in secrecy and hidden from public view, but the idea of having an entire town devoted to scientific research certainly showed that a cultural thaw was occurring in Russia.
While this was most definitely a step in the right direction, there were still issued with Akademgorodok that hindered it from truly becoming a well-known research city. First of all, the city was located in Siberia, far from any large city and especially far from Moscow. This kind of isolation from more populated parts of Russia made it somewhat of an unknown place for many years and was somewhat like a microcosm of Russia as a whole in that the city kept mostly to itself. Also, more decorated scientists within the city were treated with more respect and given more power. This problem of elitism was an extremely Stalinist principle that never fully went away, and Akademgorodok can be used to show that.
Russia’s “city of science” was conceived as part of the nation’s thawing of culture and attempt to get away from Stalinist principles. On paper, Akademgorodok was a perfect blend of openness and desire to become a learning center, however it had its problems. Specifically, the city could not get away from problems such as isolation and elitism that plagued Russia throughout most of its history.
Textbook: Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: A History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 209-222. Print
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