- By Ken Martinez
- Feb. 12 2012 20:17
Main industries: Oil and gas administration
Mayor: Alexander Moor
Founded in 1586
Interesting fact No. 1: Tyumen is home to the easternmost McDonald’s in Russia
Interesting fact No. 2: Irving Berlin, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in U.S. history, is thought to have been born here in 1888.
Sister cities: Brest, Belarus; Calgary, Canada; Daqing, China; Celle, Germany; Bern, Switzerland; Houston, Texas, U.S.
TYUMEN — If "the strength of Russia rests in Siberia," as one popular refrigerator magnet contends with words emblazoned across the sky above a powerful oil derrick, then Siberia's capital is surely Tyumen.
Buoyed by the seemingly infinite oil and gas wealth channeled through the city from the icy north of the Tyumen region, the capital dazzles with a beautiful mixture of exquisitely restored tsarist-era buildings and modern office buildings abuzz with business.
Founded in 1586 as the first Siberian fort, Tyumen was a bastion of support for the White Army during the Russian Civil War until Commander Vasily Blyukher swept into the city in 1919. During World War II, Tyumen's defensible location behind the Ural Mountains made it an ideal place to guard Vladimir Lenin's body. Today, Tyumen serves as a center of commerce and a hub for the numerous cities in the north.
The Tyumen region is large, stretching from Kazakhstan to the Arctic Ocean, and includes two autonomous regions home to native peoples accustomed to the harsh climate. Within easy reach of the regional capital are Pokrovskoye, Rasputin's birthplace, and Tobolsk, a historical capital of Siberia featuring an imposing kremlin and the residence where the last Russian tsar was kept with his family before their final trip to Yekaterinburg.
One of the world’s largest international drilling contractors, KCA DEUTAG, uses its regional head office in Tyumen (252 Ulitsa Respubliki, Bldg. 1; +7 3452-22-00-75; +7 495-234-4459;
Schlumberger, the world’s largest oil-field services company, operates a perforating gun factory (8 2nd Km Starogo Tobolskogo Trakta, Bldg. 77; +7 3452-52-13-91;
TNK-BP’s office (67 Ulitsa Lenina; +7 3452-38-26-88; e-mail: email@example.com;
The most important feature of this region, however, is the vast oil and natural gas deposits it contains. The Tyumen region produces the majority of all oil and gas in Russia. Although there are no drilling operations in the capital city, Tyumen has long been an administrative center, with the liquid wealth amassed in the north funneled through the city in the south.
This industry's vitality contributes to the success of one of the few regions in Russia that shows a net increase in population. In the UNDP's Human Development Index measuring standard of living, life expectancy and education, Tyumen places second in Russia, above St. Petersburg and, perhaps more surprisingly, the agency's income index places Tyumen above even Moscow.
The city's wealth also means that its historic city center is in fantastic shape. The downtown stretch of Ulitsa Respubliki, the city's longest street, features brightly painted historical buildings, lantern-style street lights and the brick-tiled pathways that inspired former Tyumen Governor Sergei Sobyanin to redo Moscow's downtown sidewalks in the same fashion.
However at the same time, Tyumen is also known as the "capital of villages." Its city center has a distinctive small-town feel, lacking the high-rise buildings and broad boulevards of larger cities like Kazan or nearby Yekaterinburg. Within the city limits there are still many wooden residences identical to those in the Russian countryside, and many citizens of Tyumen carry themselves with a sort of small-town friendliness.
Moor became mayor of Tyumen in February 2011. Originally educated as an accountant and economist, Moor earlier held positions both in the private sector and regional government.
Q: Why should foreign investors choose Tyumen?
A: Many well-known companies are working on projects in the city. The government of the Tyumen region, Governor Vladimir Yakushev and the city administration work to fine-tune policies aimed at attracting investors and work with them to bring investment projects to fruition.
Q: What sectors are most attractive for investors and why?
A: I’d like to say they all are! Tyumen is known for oil extraction and refinement. We are in the process of building a new generation of processing facilities, and oil services companies like Schlumberger are having a lot of success.
Tyumen is also one of the leaders in housing development, and the governor gives a lot of attention to agriculture. There are active investment projects for public utilities, including a project by Diamant Group to create a facility for sorting and recycling waste products. Tyumen’s tourism industry is also growing.
Q: How will Tyumen continue to develop in the next few years?
A: Tyumen is one of the country’s leaders in the development and adaptation of urban-planning codes. We already have confirmation of a new general development plan, as well as good regulations in place for land usage and building. The large increase in new housing developments speaks to the effectiveness of our regulatory process. Investors can rely on infrastructure that is investment-friendly and is a product of our robust modernization program.
Q: What is the city doing to help investors?
A: The administration of the Tyumen region is currently creating a regional investment agency that will support projects. The main goal of the agency will be to overcome all administrative barriers inhibiting the fulfillment of business projects. This assistance is targeted not only at large businesses, which often have substantial resources of their own, but also at midsized and small businesses that are the fundamental drivers of the region’s economic activities.
— Howard Amos
University students reflect this gregarious attitude, engaged in projects like "Tyumen Greeter," an initiative that pairs foreign visitors to the city with enthusiastic students interested in showing off what Tyumen has to offer. The program currently has volunteers able to lead tours of the city in 10 languages.
"This project is both useful for foreigners who want to learn about Tyumen and instrumental in developing the intercultural communication skills our students need to navigate a changing world," said Pavel Kuznetsov, the coordinator of the program.
What to see if you have two hours
Had Pushkin lived here, he may never have written the following about the Russian summer: "I would love you, if it weren't for dirt and mosquitoes and flies." Tyumen has few mosquitoes and is a clean city, making summertime Tyumen a relaxing place to spend an afternoon. Winter has its own charms, and for the appropriately dressed visitor, Tyumen is a great place to take a walk year-round.
The best way to spend two hours is by strolling along the city's main street, Respubliki, and the newly completed embankment. On Respubliki, you may notice the bright blue main building of the Tyumen State Agricultural Academy (7 Ulitsa Respubliki;
Respubliki ends at the pedestrian-only Lover's Bridge, a suspension bridge connecting the city center to a sleepy village-like neighborhood. Locals know that if you jump on the bridge at the right point, you can feel it move up and down as a shock wave travels through the pathway. At the bridge's head there are stairs to the picturesque newly constructed embankment, built with local marble from the nearby Ural Mountains.
If you have time or the weather is poor, head across the street from the bridge to the City Duma, a museum of natural history (2 Ulitsa Lenina; +7 3452-46-80-71;
What to do if you have two days
For visitors with ample time to stretch their legs, the Trinity Monastery (10 Kommunisticheskaya Ulitsa), easily visible from any point on the embankment, deserves a visit. It takes only a 15-minute walk from the Lover's Bridge to transport you back to the 18th century, with bells tolling and monks hustling about in traditional garb lending to an atmosphere of the tranquility of pre-revolutionary Russia.
If you have the family along, you can also slow down and enjoy amusement park rides in the city park. The park is like a permanent fair, complete with cotton candy and pony rides, with no entrance fee. In the winter, this area is filled with ice statues and slides carved from enormous blocks of ice, with children racing on plastic discs or sleds at breakneck speeds.
Other sights to see include the brightly painted regional administration buildings, the regional legislature and the governor's office. They face each other across Ulitsa Respubliki, which runs parallel to Ulitsa Lenina. An imposing larger-than-life statue of Lenin keeps guard over a park that bustles with young families and youth in the evenings, making for a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. The city also has a well-tended geological museum and a fine arts museum.
He set up his high-end furniture company Masterskaya-Moshkinykh in 1992 and now employs 40 people.
Q: How easy is it to develop a small business in Tyumen?
A: A quality business is difficult to develop anywhere because it involves interacting with people and building relationships. Russia has particular problems with finding enough qualified people in key sectors of the economy.
Q: What are the peculiarities of the Tyumen business climate?
A: We make wooden interior doors — premium class — and the question of personnel is always very pressing. The demand for our furniture is actually higher than what we can supply.
Q: Oil and gas is heavily associated with Tyumen. How dynamic is the nonenergy related business in the city?
A: We have a food processing industry. And there is the construction industry, although it is struggling at the moment.
Q: What would you recommend to see in Tyumen?
A: I am originally from Tyumen and am wildly in love with the old architecture of the city. On many private houses we have the most original and interesting woodwork. This should produce a particularly long-lasting impression on any foreign visitor.
— Howard Amos
If you feel like venturing a bit further and the weather is cold, a trip 15 minutes outside the city to the hot springs at Verkhny Bor (11th kilometer of the Salairsky Trakt; +7 3452-77-20-71;
The Tyumen Drama Theater (129 Ulitsa Respubliki; +7 3452-40-98-33) and the Tyumen Philharmonic (34 Ulitsa Respubliki; +7 3452-68-77-77) are two venues that frequently feature popular and classical performances. Schedules and tickets can be found at
Yermolayev (37 Ulitsa Lenina; +7 3452-29-76-25;
If you are in the mood for a club, try Madame de Pompadour (9 Ulitsa Nikolaya Fyodorova; +7 3452-38-53-85). The club has a dual-layer design, with a more intimate second floor featuring a second DJ, an additional bar and comfortable plush seating where you can order hookah.
Where to eat
Try the upstairs seating at Gorkomovskoye (83b Ulitsa Gertsena; +7 3452 46-68-78;
At 23, Nikolai Kogoshvili started his own legal firm specializing in construction law that is now rated among the 100 best legal companies in the country by
Q: What steps has the city administration taken to aid businesses in Tyumen?
A: The city administration is trying to strengthen local businesses, including programs for microfinancing, infrastructure development and others. They also work hard to attract investors by reducing corporate income tax rates, reimbursing infrastructure costs and creating other programs. That's why we take first place in the rating of investment attractiveness according to the Regional Development Ministry.
Q: What are some of the most frequent legal issues that investors and businessmen face in Tyumen?
A: Land problems often present a challenge. It seems odd in the biggest country in the world, but it's due to infrastructure limits and natural restrictions. Procedures for acquiring land for construction are quite complex and take a long period of time.
Q: What makes Tyumen unique?
A: I travel a lot, and I can say Tyumen is one of the best cities in the world. First, it has a central location bordering the Urals and Siberia, a critical juncture between the East and West. The city is on track to become a central transportation and logistics hub for Eurasia. Second, it has a high potential for economic growth, and there is a very low risk of natural disasters. And on the light side, everybody imagines that people in Tyumen walk around with suitcases full of money.
Q: What would you recommend to see in Tyumen?
A: Of course, I would invite you to swim in the thermal hot springs when it's minus 30 degrees Celsius outside and plus 30 degrees Celsius in the water. It's just amazing! There are also two unique farms nearby: one with elks and Siberian huskies, the other with ostriches. You can even eat ostrich meat at the farm's special restaurant!
— Ken Martinez
If you are looking to dine in style or desire to find the perfect accompaniment to a night at the nearby Tyumen Philharmonic, Mozart (34 Ulitsa Respubliki; +7 3452-68-96-62) is the nicest restaurant in Tyumen. It is part of the restaurant chain Maxim, started by a young waitress in the early 1990s with a single cafe that flourished into a successful chain of more than a dozen unique restaurants and cafes. Maxim's other locations are also popular with locals, each venue with its own character and style. Check its website at maxim-rest.ru for a full list and panoramic pictures.
Tyumen has a number of freshwater fish unique to this region of Siberia, and the locals are proud of their tasty offerings. While you are visiting, be sure to try Muksun, a white fish found in the rivers north of the city, or stroganina, fish served raw and frozen as a companion to vodka.
Where to stay
The Remizov Hotel (6 1/7 Ulitsa Griboyedova; +7 3452-38-39-38;
If you are looking for more inexpensive accommodations, try the Hotel Vostok (159 Ulitsa Respubliki; +7 3452-68-61-11;
Although Tyumen is only on the edge of Siberia, its residents are fiercely proud to call this region home and love talking about their unforgiving weather. Inevitably the question "How do you like our Siberian cold?" will arise, usually accompanied by a nudge and a wink. Show off your knowledge of regional sayings by responding with the phrase "Siberians are not those who do not freeze, but rather those who dress warmly" to get a warm nod of approval.
A controversially expensive underground walkway currently being constructed underneath one of the main thoroughfares of the city to help alleviate the traffic is another point about which most residents will have a strong opinion. Tyumen is paralyzed daily by traffic jams, making this an easy topic to bond over. Interestingly, most locals seem to be convinced that traffic is due more to stupid people driving slowly than to the number of cars on the road.
How to get there
The Roshchino International Airport, 13 kilometers outside of the city, is the most convenient way to get to Tyumen. A taxi can take you to or from the city in about 15 minutes for a flat rate of about 300 rubles, making it an easy start or end for any journey. A one-way ticket to or from Moscow usually ranges from about 5,000 to 7,000 rubles ($170 to $230), about the same price as a train ticket. But at 2 1/2 hours, it is significantly quicker to fly. Aeroflot, S7, and UTair have several daily flights to Moscow in the morning and the evening. Other airlines offer flights to different destinations, primarily to the region's northern cities, but there are also direct flights to international destinations including Armenia, Thailand, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and others.
The 2,144-kilometer train journey from Moscow ranges from 32 to 36 hours, which can be spent comfortably by boarding the train in the evening, spending two nights sleeping and a day relaxing with a book or catching up on work, capped off with a convenient morning arrival. Tyumen is also the main rail junction to the northern corridor of oil cities, reaching to all but the most remote cities on the Yamal Peninsula. The train station is situated near the center of the city at 28A Privokzalnaya Ulitsa. Prices for third-class economy class tickets usually cost 2,000 to 3,000 rubles, and second-class cabin class tickets range from 4,000 to 8,000 rubles ($130 to $260), depending on the time of year and bunk (upper or lower) chosen.