Some 5,000 miles east of Moscow and 500 miles west of Yakutsk, in Siberia, there is an area that owes its existence to the discovery of diamond deposits and which future depends on the decisions of one company controlled by the Russian government.

 

The Russian Federation is the largest diamond-producing nation in the world and Alrosa is the leading company accounting for 95% of the country’s production. Yakutia has an area five times the size of France but with a population of less than one million produces 28% of all world’s rough diamonds. The power of the Central Government in Alrosa’s decisions is so decisive that in August 2009, Vladimir Putin announced that the government would buy U$S 1 billion in uncut diamonds from Alrosa to support the Russian diamond mining industry and avoid saturation of the global diamond market.

The towns of Mirny, Aykhal, Nakyn, or Udachny where founded in the second half of the last century when deposits of diamonds were discovered and got the status of closed cities due diamonds was a strategic sector during the Cold War. Actually are examples of what Russians call “Monogorods” (cities dominated by a single company), more than 50% population works directly or indirectly for Alrosa, which dominates diamond extraction, but also have an airline, hotels, real estate company, sports centers, culture palaces and participates actively in political life.

The area, close to the Arctic and isolated in the center of Siberia -there is no year-round road- is above permafrost, and with 7-9 months of winter suffers prolonged periods of extreme cold in which temperatures reach -50°c. The living conditions there are infrequent making the lives of their population unique; Parts of their personality are tied to its memory of being closed cities, deep reminiscences of traces of the character of the old Soviet Union, and feelings of the yearning for the communist era are all mixed from the approach of the harsh conditions of life in permafrost.

This project aims to explore loneliness, isolation, human adaptation to extreme cold and ability to overcome adverse conditions while trying to establish a life in remote regions.

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