The other day, I stumbled upon what I had believed to be fake, but after investigation, I found that Siberian ghost towns do exist. Siberian ghost towns are little cities, villages, or suburbs that were former Soviet military bases that have been “abandoned.” However, these supposed ghost towns have recently been discovered by the Western world as inhabited by a select thick-skinned few.
Siberia, alone, makes up about 3/4th of Russia’s land, but only 1/4th of their population. During Soviet times, remote areas of Siberia were used as industrial hubs, where prisoners would be sent in order to work off their debts. So evidently, towns and cities sprung up around these major factories and prisons so government officials and prison workers would have a habitable place to call home. (For a full history of Siberia, visit: http://www.russiablog.org/2008/04/russias_ghost_town_in_siberia.php)
One would think that after the fall of Communism, the inhabitants would have fled the horrifying conditions, but, in fact, there are a relatively large number of Russians who still live in the lifeless, cold, and deserted towns. Al Jazeera recently explored an area called, Yeniseysk 15, and had the chance to interview a few inhabitants about their thoughts on the region. They found that six blocks of the forgotten town were inhabited by hundreds of handicaps and Russians on welfare. Rent is free, so it is no surprise why these people flock here. In the town, there are two social workers, but no medical professionals at all. However, they find the living quarters to be quite comfortable because of their heat and indoor plumbing. One older woman says she moved to Yeniseysk 15 in order to avoid bothering her family as she dies of old age.
See for full report: http://www.russiablog.org/2008/04/russias_ghost_town_in_siberia.php
To fully understand what these people are facing, here are some of the conditions they face:
-More than deadly freezing temperatures, reaching minus 56 degrees Celsius.
-The cities are built on permafrost, so with the seasonal changes, building are destroyed quite quickly.
-Some of the worst polluted area in the world.
-45 consecutive days of night.
-Frequent relentless winds up to 25 meters per second
-Because of the deserted factories, chemical leakage is very common, so common that random ignition of trees is not unheard of.
*below: leaking gas lines
I thought the Midwest was unbarable…
FUN FACT: Rasputin was from Siberia. Listen to this song to learn more.
Thank you for reading!
~Alexander G. O’Brien