Kolsky

Our bus got stuck in the snowstorm and the driver said: “Everyone who wants to reach our final destination is welcome to go out and push the bus.” That was one of my first impressions of Kolsky.

Since 2019 I’ve been visiting the region of Kola Peninsula or Kolsky, as local people call it. Located more than 2000 kilometers from Moscow, the Arctic region stays covered by snow typically eight months in a row. The place attracted me with its snowy beauty and frozen landscape bringing me back to my childhood in a sleeping district in Moscow.

The Russian Northern Fleet, the largest number of nuclear reactors in the world, the highest number of nuclear weapons in Russia, minerals, oil, gas - these are the main pillars on which the region stands.

Parents and grandparents of the youngest generation moved here from all around the former USSR to build the new industrial future of the region. In exchange for living in harsh Arctic conditions they were guaranteed stability, through regular income and employer-provided housing. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the place stagnated economically and its infrastructure began to crumble.

At this remote peninsula, I was interested in exploring untypical characters and their paths in the society, which for two generations used to be standatalised by the communist regime. When many left to seek new opportunities in big cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg, others stayed at Kolsky. Those who stayed immersed themselves in the difficult reality around them, which sometimes led them down illegal and unconventional paths.

© Tanya Sharapova - Image from the Kolsky photography project
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Artists Olga and Alexey in their apartment in Murmansk. The couple dreams of leaving Kolsky to find better jobs. Now they work as entertainers in restaurants and at events. On cardboard paper in the background it is written: “The circus burned down, the clowns are still here. Help.”

© Tanya Sharapova - Image from the Kolsky photography project
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Student Valentin poses in self-made armor at hill Gorelaya. He planned to build a military career after his service in the army, but he got injured and after surgery was not able to continue.

© Tanya Sharapova - Image from the Kolsky photography project
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In Murmansk, a city with a population of 300,000 people  there are only three underground passages. All of them were built during Soviet times.

© Tanya Sharapova - Image from the Kolsky photography project
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Tatiana, member of the communist party, in her apartment. According to the survey made in March 2019, seventy percent of Russian respondents think that Stalin played a positive role in the history of Russia.

© Tanya Sharapova - Image from the Kolsky photography project
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Garages and a heating station pipe in Roslyakovo. Roslyakovo was closed military city until 2015, now it is part of the bigger city Murmansk.

© Tanya Sharapova - A rare moment of no rain and no snow, when locals can dry their linen outside, Murmansk.
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A rare moment of no rain and no snow, when locals can dry their linen outside, Murmansk.

© Tanya Sharapova - Image from the Kolsky photography project
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Valya dreams of studying in a military school to become a paratrooper. He swims three or four times a week in Semyonovskoye lake, despite the weather conditions.

© Tanya Sharapova - The doors of a Christian church in Teriberka, which is closed as it is in a state of disrepair.
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The doors of a Christian church in Teriberka, which is closed as it is in a state of disrepair.

© Tanya Sharapova - Image from the Kolsky photography project
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Veterinary doctor Nadezda with one of her four snakes at her apartment in Olenegorsk city. In several years her husband will finish working in the military and they will be able to move to the south of Russia, where they bought a house.

© Tanya Sharapova - Image from the Kolsky photography project
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Shamil sits at his apartment’s balcony where he lives with his mother. He graduated from Murmansk Marine Fishing College, but after being subject to hazing and mistreatment on a sea vessel, he decided not to associate his life with working at the sea.