The village of Sofiysk sits amid taiga forest, swampland, and squat volcanic hills on the banks of the Amur River in Khabarovsk Krai. Its residents are too busy hunting, fishing, and tending their vegetable gardens to give much thought to the issues preoccupying European Russia. But the impact of the war in Ukraine can be felt even here. Locals are being sent off to fight, and men half-jokingly talk about hiding out in the taiga to avoid call-up notices. People are acutely aware of the recent increases in their already high grocery prices. While the government is busy annexing new territories, Sofiysk gets by without running water or gas lines, and sometimes without electricity.
Our correspondent was there to witness the fall salmon run – the highpoint of the year in Sofiysk – and to observe the slow death of a village that was founded after Russia’s nineteenth-century assimilation of the Far East, but that has been forgotten under the Putin regime.
This story originally appeared in the publication 7x7 (Семь на семь): lr.semnasem.org/sofiysk
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The subject of a film by Akira Kurosawa, Dersu Uzala (1849-1908) was a Nanai trapper. He served as a guide for the Russian explorer Vladimir Arsenyev, who published a book about him.
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