An absolutely terrific multi-media article in this morning’s NY Times describes how Russia’s countryside is being left behind as cities and large towns dominate socioeconomic development in that country. This fascinating article by Ellen Barry, “The Russia Left Behind: A journey through a heartland on the slow road to ruin”, including spectacular photos and video, can be found here. To whet your geographic appetite, here are a couple of introductory paragraphs:
“A few times every day, the high-speed train between St. Petersburg and Moscow barrels through the threadbare town of Lyuban. When word gets out that the head of Russia’s state railway company — a close friend of President Vladimir V. Putin — is aboard, the station’s employees line up onthe platform standing at attention, saluting Russia’s modernization for the seconds it takes the train to fly through. Whoosh.
But Vladimir G. Naperkovsky is not one of them. He watched with a cold, blue-eyed stare as the train passed the town where he was born, with its pitted roads and crumbling buildings. At 52, having shut down his small computer repair business, Mr. Naperkovsky is leaving for another region inRussia, hoping it is not too late to start a new life in a more prosperous place. The reasons are many, but his view boils down to this: “Gradually,” he said, explaining his view of Lyuban, “everything is rotting.”
At the edges of Russia’s two great cities, another Russia begins
As the state’s hand recedes from the hinterlands, people are struggling with choices that belong to past centuries: to heat their homes with a wood stove, which must be fed by hand every three hours, or burn diesel fuel, which costs half a month’s salary? When the road has so deteriorated that ambulances cannot reach their home, is it safe to stay? When their home can’t be sold, can they leave?
The people on the top do not know what is happening down here,” he said.“They have their own world. They eat differently, they sleep on different sheets, they drive different cars. They don’t know what is going on here. If Indeed one word to describe it, I would say it is a swamp, a stagnant swamp. As it was, so it is. Nothing is changing.”