“May your road be green” | Dark History & Soft Ground | Vorkuta, Russia

Hunting trip along the former water pipelines. Thirty years ago, people lived here. The nature takes back her rights.

 

Photographer Jef Bonifacino is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From his project ‘Vorkuta’To see Jef ‘s body of work click on any image.

 

The road of Vorkuta is a closed damaged circle. Crossed via 4×4 in the summer and via snow bike in the winter.

 

It is five degrees outside but the inside of the flat is always well heated. Danil prepares Kvas, a sparkling, refreshing drink made from fermented rye flour, “the Russian Coca”.

 

Rudnik, the old town, is the favorite promenade for lovers, schoolchildren and bandits. Perched on a roof, Elena says “All Russians are like that, they are not afraid”.  

 

The old city, or district Rudnik, is situated on the east shore of Vorkuta. The first inhabitants were relocated in large building built for the workers of the Gulag.

 

Former city of Gulag, situated in the North of the Ural Mounts, Russia. 

There is one only road in Vorkuta, a 54 km closed circle that connects 14 districts and their coal mines. Thirty years later, ten districts are neglected.

In addition to being in a post-industrial crisis, Vorkuta is also suffering from global warming. Permafrost thaws, the soil softens, buildings are twisted.

Here, global warming does not translate into rising water levels. Here, the earth melts, mixed with coal.

 “The problem also threatens Alaska, Canada and other northern territories, but only Russia has cities so far north. Forty percent of buildings in the coal mining city Vorkuta have been damaged, the emergencies ministry’s Tereshkov says.” The guardian. Alec Luhn, Fri 14 Oct 2016

 

Daria looks at the landscape of Rudnik, her old district, every day. Many elderly spent their childhood over there. As I leave, she wishes me “May your road be green”.

 

The Severstal trains also circulate in circles, carrying coal from the mines that still in operation.

 

Danil in his bathroom plucking a wild goose that was previously dipped in boiling water.

 

Vorkuta is situated above the Arctic Circle, trees do not grow any more and the vegetation exists only in summer. The city installs big covers decorated with flowers to cheer up inhabitants.

 

 

See also:

Belarus’ Legacy

By Jef Bonifacino

 

 

 

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