And Jupiter is ours, and Europe is ours

The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) “Alabuga”, which has already hit the pages of all the world’s media this year with a series of high-pro­file scan­dals, this time swung at the solar sys­tem and act­ed as a col­lec­tive Ostap Bender for all the mon­ey — name­ly 491 tril­lion rubles. The head of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov signed the so-called “a promis­ing 25-year devel­op­ment plan” for the inclu­sion of 4 satel­lites of Jupiter in the spe­cial eco­nom­ic zone “Alabuga”.The sec­ond sig­na­to­ry (and intend­ed investor) was the President and Chairman of the Board of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin. Astrophysicists inter­viewed by T-invari­ant and the lead­er­ship of the Space Council of the Russian Academy of Sciences com­pared the project with the grav­it­sap­pa on the Yubileiny satel­lite (a loud anti-sci­en­tif­ic fail­ure of Roscosmos from 2008). There are no projects relat­ed to Jupiter in the Federal Space Program of the Russian Federation until 2036. 

At first glance, the above seems to be an anec­dote or a plot from a satir­i­cal news site IA “Panorama” (this is how the experts inter­viewed by T-invari­ant ini­tial­ly react­ed), how­ev­er, the sign­ing of these agree­ments real­ly passed on a grand scale, cus­tom­ary in the cul­ture of the Republic of Tatarstan, in October 2023. In response to the sci­en­tists’ com­ments, the man­age­ment of the SEZ issued a state­ment in the style of the head of Chechnya R.A. Kadyrov. 


Gas giant plan­ets have a huge num­ber of satel­lites. Jupiter has at least 69 of them. The four largest are called Galilean. They can be seen even with a small tele­scope. Io is known for its vol­ca­noes, Europa for its hypo­thet­i­cal ocean below the sur­face, and Ganymede and Callisto for their size.

SEZ “Alabuga” against Vladimir Surdin

The event amazed even the repub­li­can media, and the astro­physi­cists involved as com­men­ta­tors were unable to assess the event from the point of view of aero­space prospects and com­ment­ed the event is more like psy­chother­a­pists. In response, the SEZ “Alabuga“respond­ed with a state­ment, some frag­ments of which were more in the style of pub­lic com­mu­ni­ca­tion by R.A. Kadyrov. Moreover, the orga­ni­za­tion chose as the addressee of its response one of the most famous pop­u­lar­iz­ers of space, Vladimir Surdin. The long-wind­ed response from the SEZ begins with rude­ness: “It’s a pity that John Kennedy for­got to ask Vladimir Surdin’s opin­ion  the press ser­vice of the SEZ “Alabuga” pub­lish­es an offi­cial com­men­tary on the words of Vladimir Surdin”.

Further in their expla­na­tion to the sci­en­tist, the Tatarstan space col­o­niz­ers refer to author­i­ties they under­stand: “But if in 1945 Stalin and Korolev had con­sult­ed with such a Surdin, he would say: “Well… first you need to raise the bal­loon 10 kilo­me­ters” or “How are you going to send a per­son into space, because there is radi­a­tion and it’s cold…”.

The lengthy text end­ed with the phrase: “We invite Associate Professor Vladimir Surdin to come and make spe­cif­ic pro­pos­als and plans for col­lege stu­dents at Alabuga Polytech.”

However, it is impos­si­ble to eval­u­ate this cor­re­spon­dence dis­cus­sion between astronomer Vladimir Surdin and the pio­neers of deep space explo­ration of the Republic of Tatarstan with­out the con­text in which the once promis­ing Alabuga SEZ is now developing.

Pyramid for assemblers of Iranian drones

Tatar lead­ers timed the start of prepa­ra­tions for the col­o­niza­tion of the envi­rons of Jupiter to coin­cide with the open­ing of the new head­quar­ters of the Alabuga Polytechnic College ” The citadel of future aero­space research, biotech and the ambi­tions of the lead­er­ship of the Republic of Tatarstan in local media mate­ri­als pre­sent­ed.

like an Egyptian pyra­mid, although in the pho­to­graph it rather resem­bles a giant lad­der from a play­ground or a fig­ure made from scrap Lego. 

The head­quar­ters has 18 floors, accord­ing to local media, the con­struc­tion cost is 7 bil­lion rubles, about 2 thou­sand peo­ple will be able to live and work in the build­ing. At the same time, the mul­ti-lev­el nature of the build­ing also has a con­cep­tu­al basis. The high­er a col­lege stu­dent climbs in the inter­nal grade, the high­er he will be able to set­tle. It must be said that the whole life of col­lege stu­dents is imbued with this army spir­it of “make it or leave it.” 

Recall that this year both the Alabuga SEZ and specif­i­cal­ly the Alabuga Polytech College in the world media due to the fact that they became the base for the assem­bly of Iranian Shahed com­bat drones (they play a par­tic­u­lar­ly dead­ly role in the full-scale war in Ukraine). 

Journalists of the inde­pen­dent region­al pub­li­ca­tion “Protocol” found that these drones are kamikazes are also being gath­ered by stu­dents of the Alabuga Polytech College, many of whom are minors. The “Protocol” also described the work­ing con­di­tions of teenagers: an unreg­u­lat­ed work sched­ule, enslav­ing mon­e­tary con­di­tions of a tri­par­tite agree­ment (par­ents-stu­dent-col­lege) and semi-fas­cist incli­na­tions of man­age­ment at all lev­els. In response to the pub­li­ca­tions, the col­lege admin­is­tra­tion pub­lished 9 videos, in which stu­dents with a deject­ed look explain that by col­lect­ing drones, they want to “make their con­tri­bu­tion” and talk about a “dif­fi­cult his­tor­i­cal moment” for the Russian Federation. The young peo­ple in the video do not hide the fact that they are 16-17 years old and that they work 12 or more hours a day, which is pro­hib­it­ed by the Labor Code of the Russian Federation. But it seems that this bar­ri­er may soon disappear.

InOctober 2023, after the pre­sen­ta­tion of col­o­niza­tion plans, Committee of the State Council of Tatarstan on Social Policy pre­pared draft amend­ments to Art. 265 Labor Code. Deputies want to allow the use of the labor of teenagers aged 16 to 18 years “in jobs with harm­ful and (or) dan­ger­ous work­ing con­di­tions under a fixed-term employ­ment con­tract for prac­ti­cal train­ing in the rel­e­vant pro­fes­sion.” The project also pro­vides for full-fledged employ­ment of minors at the enter­pris­es where they com­plet­ed their intern­ships after receiv­ing sec­ondary voca­tion­al education. 

The sec­ond notable anti-cri­sis PR step of Alabuga was paint­ball. It had pre­vi­ous­ly played an impor­tant role in the lives of col­lege stu­dents, but after pub­li­ca­tion, social net­works became almost entire­ly devot­ed to patri­ot­ic paint­ball com­pe­ti­tions between stu­dents. (up to 100 posts per week). One of the posts reads like this: “Today our col­lege stu­dents will again find them­selves at the Stalingrad Operation Uranus.” (links and 2). As “Protocol” wrote, the results of each fight­er in paint­ball also affect his posi­tion in the local hierarchy. 

Stalin, pharaoh, jacuzzi

But Alabuga is not alive by paint­ball alone. With the open­ing of head­quar­ters, the appeal of going to col­lege and work­ing in the SEZ is being empha­sized in more ways. So, a stat­ue of Joseph Stalin was installed in the build­ing. But local archi­tects of pub­lic spaces under­stand that a stat­ue of the odi­ous leader will no longer sur­prise any­one in the Russian Federation. Therefore, they includ­ed the Generalissimo in a very orig­i­nal sym­bol­ic con­text.

There are 6 more char­ac­ters in the row of stat­ues: for­mer Prime Minister of Singapore, one of the cre­ators of the Singapore “eco­nom­ic mir­a­cle” Lee Kuan Yew; Chinese politi­cian Deng Xiaoping; one of the found­ing fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton; English physi­cian, cre­ator of the small­pox vac­cine Edward Jenner; Roman Emperor Trajan and Pharaoh Amenemhat III . 

Here is anoth­er exam­ple of the local moti­va­tion of stu­dents: near the Stalin sculp­ture there is a pedestal where suc­cess­ful in paint­ball and During the assem­bly of “mar­tyrs”, a stu­dent can stand up, take a pho­to and, appar­ent­ly, also feel like a leader.

The floor and num­ber of neigh­bors stu­dents have depends on their posi­tion. While they are trainees, they live on the first floors, then, with career growth, they will move high­er and high­er, and there will be few­er and few­er neigh­bors in the apart­ment. A spa with a jacuzzi will be wait­ing for them at the top. 

How do you like this, Elon Musk? Elon Musk did not react

The pre­sen­ta­tion of the new “star city” and its future mis­sions also had PR prepa­ra­tion car­ried out by the admin­is­tra­tion Tatarstan.The weak point of Russian offi­cials, space chiefs and every­one relat­ed to large state events isappli­ca­tionto Elon Musk. 

Shortly before the pre­sen­ta­tion in Hathorne, California, USA, oppo­site the Space X office, the Alabuga SEZ placed a bill­board. How writes local pub­li­ca­tion Tatar-inform, “the bil­lion­aire was remind­ed that it is in the veins of Russian sci­en­tists that the blood of Sergei Korolev flows.” The text on the ban­ner read: “Elon Musk, what about the moons of Jupiter? The count­down begins on October 1st. Go!” There was also a QR code on the shield  the link con­tains a video with Alabuga invest­ment projects on Jupiter.

It should be not­ed that this is not the first time that the Alabuga SEZ has placed its bill­board in icon­ic places in the United States. So, ear­li­er their mes­sage appeared per­haps at the most expen­sive adver­tis­ing point on the plan­et  “in the very heart of New York there are just a few words  “It’s time to go home.” Naturally, there was no reac­tion from Musk to his attempt to “com­pare mis­sions.” After the start of Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine, he stopped some­how express­ing him­self pub­licly in response to con­stant attempts to com­mu­ni­cate with him by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Russian Federation (which he often indulged in before (“ The tram­po­line is work­ing” ) and even some­how speaked at the meet­ing of the Knowledge Society in the for­mat of online participation).

Colonization of Jupiter’s satellites, human life extension to 700 years, human cloning

We have specif­i­cal­ly writ­ten down the nec­es­sary con­text in order to pref­ace the state­ment with which its gen­er­al direc­tor Timur Shagivaleev opened a new pro­gram for the devel­op­ment of the Alabuga SEZ to the world, the Tatarstan gov­ern­ment and the main state banker of the Russian Federation. 

“Please give us strate­gic guide­lines for the 25 years ahead. Human civ­i­liza­tion will become mul­ti­plan­e­tary, biotech will ensure a life expectan­cy of at least 700 years, the Alabuga SEZ will become the num­ber one spe­cial eco­nom­ic zone in the solar sys­tem,” said Shagivaleev. (Quote from RBC)

According to the plan, on Jupiter’s satel­lite Europa “Alabuga” pro­pos­es to cre­ate an agri­cul­tur­al clus­ter of agri­cul­tur­al prod­ucts to sup­ply neigh­bor­ing clus­ters. Investments in this project in the SEZ are stat­ed at 114 tril­lion rubles, writes RBC. (For com­par­i­son: total bud­get rev­enues of the Russian Federation in 2022 amount­ed to about 28 tril­lion rubles  T-invari­ant) .
On Io, accord­ing to the long-term plan for the devel­op­ment of a spe­cial eco­nom­ic zone, a clus­ter for the devel­op­ment of heavy indus­try will be formed: 121 tril­lion rubles. investment.

The col­o­niza­tion of Jupiter’s satel­lite Callisto involves, as indi­cat­ed in the pre­sen­ta­tion, the devel­op­ment of biotech­nolo­gies for human cloning, genome edit­ing and human life exten­sion to 700 years. Investments – 176 tril­lion rubles.

The authors of the strate­gic devel­op­ment plan placed space hos­tels and infra­struc­ture on the Jupiter satel­lite Ganymede. The total invest­ment in this project is 80 tril­lion rubles.

And the cul­mi­na­tion of the strat­e­gy: Tatar inno­va­tors promise to cre­ate 40 mil­lion jobs. 

Reactions of space institutes: “Nothing to do with it”

Astrophysicist Vladimir Surdin, in a com­ment to T-invari­ant, stat­ed that he does not plan to respond to boor­ish state­ments and not very polite invi­ta­tions. “Since Alabuga addressed me per­son­al­ly for the first time in its pub­li­ca­tion, I will fol­low Musk’s exam­ple: I will not respond,” he noted. 

“Nothing new. Spotlighting. It looks like a “grav­i­cap­pa” (iner­tia, fly­ing on the Yubileiny satel­lite). Everything would be fine if they didn’t ask the state for a lot of mon­ey for this “project,” said Surdin. 

Vladimir Surdin at a pop­u­lar sci­ence lec­ture in the cap­i­tal of Tatarstan. Photo: KFU media center

All lead­ing space research insti­tutes inter­viewed by T-invari­ant has­tened to dis­own any par­tic­i­pa­tion, assess­ment or exam­i­na­tion of the plans of the Alabuga SEZ for the con­quest of Jupiter’s satel­lites. “It has noth­ing to do with it,” said aca­d­e­mi­cian Lev Zeleny, sci­en­tif­ic direc­tor of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and head of the Space Council of the Russian Academy of Sciences. 

“I haven’t read it and won’t waste my time. There are no expe­di­tions to Jupiter in the fed­er­al space pro­gram until 2036. By the way, Saturn’s moon Titan is full of methane…” Lev Zeleny told T-invariant. 

Oleg Korablev, a Russian physi­cist, spe­cial­ist in the field of space instru­men­ta­tion and plan­e­tary research from the Institute of Space Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, cor­re­spond­ing mem­ber of the Russian Academy of Sciences, also react­ed with humor: “Very inter­est­ing. The agri­cul­tur­al clus­ter and life exten­sion to 700 years look espe­cial­ly touching.” 

“We seri­ous­ly con­sid­ered a research flight to Europe as part of research in the 2010s. The radi­a­tion load on Europa is such that the most resis­tant machine gun will with­stand no more than 1 month. On Io the sit­u­a­tion is much worse. Temperatures on the satel­lites are approx­i­mate­ly –160 °C, there is no atmos­phere. Therefore, the prac­ti­cal aspects of “devel­op­ment” on a scale of 25 years look like com­plete fan­ta­sy,” Oleg Korablev told T-invariant. 

The Commission for Combating Pseudoscience under the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences con­sid­ered a com­par­i­son of the ini­tia­tives of the Alabuga SEZ with “New Vasyuki” “quite appropriate.” 

“The prospects are ZERO. I com­plete­ly agree with all the com­ments of Vladimir Surdin. I con­sid­er the main dan­ger of the exis­tence of such “devel­op­ment plans” to be the exis­tence of a sys­tem for eval­u­at­ing them, which aims to squan­der the bud­get under plau­si­ble pre­texts,” said Academician Evgeny Alexandrov, Chairman of the RAS Commission on Pseudoscience. 

For the sake of hype

T-invariant’s inter­locu­tors describe the prag­mat­ic pre­req­ui­sites for the emer­gence of such projects only anonymously. 

“For the cur­rent LOMs, what Skolkovo is with “pri­vate astro­nau­tics”, what Alabuga is with hum­bleniya sys­tem of Jupiter  approx­i­mate­ly the same thing, they do not see the dif­fer­ence. In the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion there is sim­ply “more hell”, that’s all. All more or less think­ing peo­ple under­stand that all inno­va­tion will for a long time be lim­it­ed to R&D for the Ministry of Defense with “col­ored” mon­ey, and from the point of view of mean­ing­less con­ver­sa­tions, in my opin­ion, the same Russian lunar pro­gram has already come very close to the plan for the eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment of the Jupiter sys­tem.” “, said one of T-invariant’s inter­locu­tors, who pre­vi­ous­ly worked in the industry. 

Political sci­en­tist Evgeniy Minchenko in the com­ment Tatarstan edi­tion of Business Online assess­es Alabuga’s plans as “hype”: “People are hav­ing fun, there is money.” 

He notes that it was no coin­ci­dence that the pre­sen­ta­tion of Alabuga’s space plans took place dur­ing the vis­it of the Chairman of the Board of VTB Bank Andrey Kostin, who allo­cat­ed a loan of 53 bil­lion rubles for cur­rent SEZ projects.

T-invari­ant it was not pos­si­ble to obtain com­ments from the SEZ “Alabuga” or “Alabuga-Polytechnic”. The head of the SEZ PR ser­vice, Dania Utalieva, received a request from our pub­li­ca­tion in Telegram on October 20. The mes­sages are list­ed as read (Utalieva’s account has been ver­i­fied: over the past year and a half, she has repeat­ed­ly con­tact­ed many mil­lion-plus pop­u­lar sci­ence blog­gers for “pos­i­tive inte­gra­tions” from this account, but received a num­ber of refusals due to the anti-war posi­tion of the bloggers). 

Requests for com­ments sent to the offi­cial email address­es of the press ser­vice of the Alabuga SEZ also remained unanswered. 

Text: Evgeniy Nasyrov

Photos: Kazan First /​ Tatar-inform /​rais /​ KFU media portal


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