My name is Vera Kichanova.
I am an urban economist, policy analyst and writer exploring the cities of today and tomorrow. My interests range from sharing economy and zoning laws to special jurisdictions and private cities in the Metaverse.
Each step of my career — as an elected Municipal Councillor in Moscow, Editor-in-Chief of a think tank publication in Kyiv, president of the Oxford Hayek Society, researcher at Zaha Hadid Architects — has been focused on bridging the gap between urban planning theory and classical liberal thought.
Vera
Kichanova
Bridging the gap between
urban planning & liberty
the future of cities
Exploring and shaping
My name is Vera Kichanova. I am an urban economist, policy analyst and writer exploring the cities of today and tomorrow. My interests range from sharing economy and zoning laws to special jurisdictions and private cities in the Metaverse.
Each step of my career — as an elected Municipal Councillor in Moscow, Editor-in-Chief of a think tank publication in Kyiv, president of the Oxford Hayek Society, researcher at Zaha Hadid Architects — has been focused on bridging the gap between urban planning theory and classical liberal thought.
Kichanova
Vera
Bridging the gap between
urban planning & liberty
the future of cities
Exploring and shaping
My Talks & Publications
ABOUT ME
EDUCATION AND CAREER
I am an urban policy researcher at Zaha Hadid Architects and a senior economist at the Free Cities Foundation. My doctoral dissertation is dedicated to private urban development — from charter cities in emerging economies to startup nations in neutral waters.

Previously, I have worked with Atlas Network (US), the London School of Economics (UK), and a number of Eastern European free-market think tanks. I hold a PhD in Political Economy from King’s College London, a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Oxford and a BA in Journalism from Moscow State University.
At the age of 20, I was elected to the Municipal Council in Moscow, becoming one of the youngest elected officials — and the first ever elected libertarian — in Russia. The Washington Post called me “the new face of Russia’s opposition”. My story was told by The New York Times and in the book Generation Putin. After the Euromaidan Revolution, being half-Ukrainian, I moved to Kyiv to advocate market reforms in the country.

My comments were published by The Telegraph, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Spiegel, CapX and FEE.org, among others. I am a regular panellist at international conferences, the 2013 Democracy Award winner, and a Mont Pelerin Society member.
ADVOCACY AND ACTIVISM
PRIVATE CITIES
Today, most cities are managed — or should I say ‘mismanaged’? — in a centralised, top-down manner. The municipality holds a monopoly on urban services, from transport to street cleaning, allowing only small ‘islands’ of private planning — think homeownership associations, shopping malls, themed parks, or university campuses.
An alternative model would be the “islands of conscious power in [the] ocean of unconscious co-operation”, a definition the Nobel-winning economist Ronald Coase gave to private firms. Like firms, private cities operate in a free market, competing with one another for residents. The beauty of a private city is that the goal of the developer — to make a profit — is aligned with the goal of a common resident: to live in a safe, comfortable, and prosperous community.

In my research, I analyse real-life examples of private cities from Honduras to India, looking for economic and legal conditions that make them possible, desirable, and profitable.
The rise of special jurisdictions — charter cities, foreign trade zones, stateless societies — shows that nothing is as attractive as freedom.
Cities as firms: How it works
market urbanism
As the first ever elected libertarian in Russia, I had to put my own convictions to a test. The kind of crucial questions I had to deal with on an everyday basis were: Who will provide public goods? Where should we draw the line between the public and the private?
And, of course, the most burning question every libertarian has to answer sooner or later: Who will build the roads? In my view, the right answer is: those who do it best. In the private sector, the best provider of goods and services is discovered through market competition. The same mechanisms can work in urban development — and, in fact, they already do.
The more the state “plans” the more difficult planning becomes for the individual. — Friedrich August von Hayek, “The Road to Serfdom”, 1944.
Market urbanism