Around 70% of the Kaliningrad Region's economy belongs to the 'unofficial sector' and is not reflected in official statistics, according to Georgi Dykhanov, the executive director of the Regional Development Agency. Dykhanov was giving evidence at hearings on the region's development strategy, held in the Kaliningrad Regional Duma. In particular, he said that the shadow economy, which consists of market trading and cross-border shuttle services, distorts the economic picture of the region and is not included in the regional development strategy.
According to Dykhanov, the region can develop in two ways: either as a 'bridge', which will mean the federal centre will have to invest its resources into the region, resources which it does not have; or as 'an overseas territory'. However, it is unlikely that the centre will allow the region to 'float freely', as Russia's strategic interests in the Baltic need to be defended. Regardless of which concept is chosen, for it to be successfully realised the region's economy must be brought out of the 'shadows'.