Mass exodus from Arctic Russia
Valery Zhukov, a married miner and union representative in Severny village outside Vorkuta, dances with his lover Lena who lives in the same neighborhood. His friend Alexander is in the back and says he wants the same woman.
Vorkuta is a coal mining and former Gulag town 1,200 miles north east of Moscow, beyond the Arctic Circle, where temperatures in winter drop to -50C.
Here, whole villages are being slowly deserted and reclaimed by snow, while the financial crisis is squeezing coal mining companies that already struggle to find workers.
Moscow says its Far North is a strategic region, targeting huge investment to exploit its oil and gas resources. But there is a paradox: the Far North is actually dying. Every year thousands of people from towns and cities in the Russian Arctic are fleeing south. The system of subsidies that propped up Siberia and the Arctic in the Soviet times has crumbled. Now there’s no advantage to living in the Far North - salaries are no higher than in central Russia and prices for goods are higher.
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- Copyright 2009 by Justin Jin. All rights reserved.
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