January 01, 2021

Restoring the Future

Restoring the Future
Anya Melnikova Yevgenia Volunkova

Anya Melnikova is saving what time destroys. And, because of the work she does, the residents of Buzuluk have begun taking pride in the place they call home, and their obscure little town is even getting its share of the tourist trade.

Anya came to Buzuluk from Vladivostok in the fall of 1996, wearing a white down jacket. After she got out of the car and was eyeing the mud, the puddles, and the decrepit buildings, her jacket was spattered with black slush and could not be rescued. But only a few years later, Anya was on a rescue mission of her own, to bring Buzuluk’s signature architectural style back from the brink. Little wooden masterpieces with features showcasing the uniquely Russia twist on Art Nouveau were disintegrating all over Buzuluk, but none of the townsfolk seemed to have any idea of what was being lost.

When we meet, in a café, Anya is eager to show off her first tattoo. She recently had the word svoboda (freedom) inked just above her wrist.

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