The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Name: Timur Akhmetov
How long have you been doing photography? What style or genre most interests you? I started doing photography in school, as part of a "tourists circle." Since now I work more in sport tourism, than in ethnographic tourism, that is the genre I photograph now. I would like to get more involved in documentary photography, but so far nothing has come of it.
Can you give us a short description of your city and where your photos are from? I have contributed photos from three locations: the Kupol gold mine – the largest such mine in Chukotka; the winter road; and in Anadyr, the capital of the Chukotka Autonomous Republic.
What is something about your city that only locals would know? Chukotka is where the world's day begins. Chukotka has the places where the 180 degree [longitudial] meridian meets the Arctic Circle – a rather unique geographic point. Chukotka is home to the easternmost point in Russia – Cape Dezhnev.
Which places or sites are a must for someone to see if they visit your city? We don't really have sites, per se. Basically, all our cultural monuments are connected to local populations, nature and culture, borne out of these three things' connectedness. But it is totally worth traveling here to see the way of life of a native population which has been preserved to the present day, one that lives off reindeer herding and harpoon hunting of sea mammals.
Cupol is the biggest gold mine in Chukotka which is being tapped by Canadian corporation Kinross. In the picture you can see a treated quarry where mining is carried out by underground methods. Here in the field they have built a gold extraction plant, residential complex, fuel storage, diesel power station and airport. The gold extraction plant processes ore also from the mine Dvoinoy which is situated 100 kilometers to the north.
It's not easy to deliver cargo to Cupol. First it comes by sea to the town of Pevek and then it goes 400 kilometers by a winter road to the point of destination. I wasn't going to write a lot about this winter road but couldn't help as it's really unique. In Russia, winter roads are usually made with the help of scrapers but this one is filled in with water. It is frozen layer by layer like asphalt. The road turns very smooth and easy to repair. The speed limit here is 50 kilometers per hour.
This picture summarizes Anadyr for me. The capital of Chukotka is always colorful, the buildings and banners on the facades are painted in a way to bring diversity to an otherwise gloomy winter view. There is lots of snow on the streets: blizzards bring so much that the equipment can't clean the streets in time. In the capital, as you would expect, the quality of life is higher than in the rest of Chukotka, so the number of moms with strollers is great indeed.
Chukotka is a region with a completely undeveloped road network. Shipping cargo to most parts of the region happens only in winter, and the passenger transportation to faraway villages is only possible by helicopter.
We used to see such homemade vehicles with tube wheels everywhere in the North. They had different names, depending on region: mandebas, dutik, karakurt. Due to bank loans, people can now afford snowmobiles and quad bikes, so this is something of a rarity now.
Here you can see a feature of northern Russian cities: the houses stand on pylons that are buried 4-6 meters. There is no other way: permafrost floats on the surface in summer, the house walls would cracked. You can also see a fox tail hanging from the window sill. Nothing special!
Alexey ice-fishes for smelt in the Anadyr river estuary. This fish has always been popular here; there was even a local holiday – Smelt Fish Festival. Back when Abramovich managed this region, people won incredible prizes - apartments, snowmobiles - in fishing competitions, and there were concerts by famous artists from Moscow. After the "Abramovich period" this holiday was officially ended, yet it existed well before Abramovich, as a welcome for spring.
When you talking about Chukotka you can’t ignore indigenous people and reindeer. Their traditional occupation is still alive today. The word Chukotka comes from “chauchu,” which means deer horns. Sled driving deer usually have their horns trimmed so that they don’t disturb each other while running.
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