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24 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

The Master of Olkhon

Author: Zinaida Burskaya
Translation: Paul E. Richardson
Illustrations/Images by Petr Shelomovskiy

May/June 2016
Page 50   ( 6 pages)

Summary: Twenty years ago, scheduled flights halted at this distant, Siberian airfield. But that hasn't stopped Vladimir Prokopiyev and his wife Gerald from keeping the landing strip in working order.


About halfway along the western shore of Lake Baikal is Olkhon Island – the fourth largest lake-bound island in the world. And on Olkhon Island is the village of Khorontsy.

Just beyond the village is a dusty field, parched by the sun. And at the edge of the field is a one-story wooden building. The building has a garden, and in the garden an 86-year-old man – Vladimir Innokentiyevich Prokopiyev – is fussing over his potatoes.

The field, in actuality, is not just a field, but Khuzhir Airfield (in the Buryat language, Khuzhir means “salty land”). And one half of the wooden building is actually the airport terminal, while the elderly Prokopiyev lives in the other half with his wife, Gerolda Mikhailovna.

Prokopiyev is in charge of the airfield, which has had no scheduled flights for 20 years. And as to the potatoes? Well, you simply cannot live without potatoes. No way, no how.

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