YAKUTSK - PhMuseum

YAKUTSK

alexis pazoumian

2017 - 2018

Yakutsk, Sakha, Russia

The Sakha Republic (formerly Yakutia) is one of the republics of Russia. Located in northeastern Siberia, it is one of the coldest inhabited places on the planet. The capital, Yakutsk (307,911 inhabitants in 2017), records an average temperature of -60°C (-76°F) last January.

It is a region where oil, gas, gold, and diamonds are found, It has attracted migrants from areas such as Armenia and Uzbekistan, into these inhospitable places. Upon learning that I had a distant family in Yakutsk, I naturally chose this city.

Iakoutsk is also the largest city in the world built on permafrost - In other words, frozen soils that sink to a depth of up to three hundred meters. If the temperature increases too much, the ice can melt and cause a collapse of permafrost and all that it carries: roads and houses, but also lakes and fertile black farmland.

The inhabitants of Yakutsk, therefore, are particularly concerned about the dangers of melting ice. Most Soviet buildings in the city were not built to withstand global warming. Especially since according to estimates, Russia warms about 2.5 times faster than the rest of the world. By melting, the permafrost will release greenhouse gases. In other words, a consequence of warming contributes in turn to feed it.This is what scholars call «positive feedback».

A leader of the Institute of Permafrost of Yakutsk admits: «If the temperature rises, the city will collapse like a house of cards, with huge warming of the territory».

If I had to summarize what struck me the most when I was there, I would say it is the drive to live, the survival instinct – which seems to be forgotten in the comfort and safety of our cities.

{{ readMoreButton }}

  • Spectators at a reindeer race tournament. Every year reindeer herders come from all over Yakutia with their reindeer (sometimes by plane) to participate in these races. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • The fans are thrilled; the winners receive money or sometimes snowmobiles. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • A participant of these reindeer races. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • A demonstration in support of Yakut’s Communist Party. I felt like travelling in the past, the Communist Party is still very strong in Yakutia. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • The participants, often elderly, still have nostalgia for Stalin. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • Boats on the frozen lake Lena during winter. All the lakes are turned into roads during the winter. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • The majority of Yakutsk residents wear fur to protect themselves from the cold. They are extremely expensive, so they can pay fur on credit for 5 years if they wish. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • A Yakut grandmother who is sewing clothes with reindeer skin. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • An Armenian worker on a construction site. I became interested in the different people living in and around Yakutsk – Yakuts, Russians, and also minorities such as Armenians, Uzbeks, Kirghiz... Each community works in very specific sectors, and most Armenians work in construction. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • The reindeer herders are located in the Oymyakon region, 1000km from the capital. This region is considered the coldest in the world, and temperatures can reach -70°C in winter. To get there you have to cross the R504, aka the Bone Route. It was built by Gulag prisoners in 1932, and takes its name from the fact that the bones of prisoners who died during its construction were incorporated into it. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • Lenin Square, the location of the place of communist demonstration. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • When it is very cold, under -60°C, a thick mist spreads everywhere. The visibility is very limited, we see only a few meters in ahead. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • When it is very cold, under -60°C, a thick mist spreads everywhere. The visibility is very limited, we see only a few meters in ahead. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • An Uzbek worker on a construction site.

  • When it is very cold, under -60°C, a thick mist spreads everywhere. The visibility is very limited, we see only a few meters in ahead. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian

  • Old traditional wooden isbas outside of the city. From Yakutsk © Alexis Pazoumian


Newsletter