Russians in Isolated Villages Very Different from Russians Elsewhere, New Study Says
October 30 – Because Russia is so large and because its road system is so bad,
many Russian villages are effectively cut off from the world for most or even
all of the year and live their own life with little regard for the rest of the
country. And they seldom attract much attention from others.
a new study by Artemy Pozanenko throws useful light on this neglected part of the
Russian world. Entitled “A Separate Type of Republic: Structural Features of
Isolated Rural Communities,” Mir Rossii,
27 (2018), 4: 31-55 (publications.hse.ru/articles/225142712),
it has been summarized by Alena Tarasova atiq.hse.ru/news/226953413.html).
researcher at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics interviewed 85 residents of
15 isolated settlements in five regions of the European portion of Russia. He
found that they were far more ready than other Russians to cooperate with and
trust each other and helped keep the communities going even in the face of
unemployment and poor prospects for the future.
of the residents of these villagers were of pension age, a smaller share
working age, and only in a few were there significant numbers of children.There is a great deal of marriage among close
relatives because there are no longer the constraints imposed by the church in
tsarist times or the authorities in Soviet ones.
are few real jobs and so most people live in a natural economy – hunting,
fishing, gathering or gardening -- or work part time in various capacities,
Pozanenko found.Few register as
unemployed because that requires a costly and often difficult trip twice a
month to the district center, something that would eat up any money someone who
did register might receive.
many are able to maintain a reasonable standard of living, the researcher said.
One of his informants observed that “no one works anywhere, but each has two
cars.”But their lives are nonetheless
hard: they have far fewer fruits and vegetables especially in wintertime and
rely more heavily on meat.
villagers rarely go to stores to purchase food, and those they do visit once
every several weeks have poorly stocked shelves.
the majority of homes, there are weapons although they are not officially
registered,” the scholar found. Police look the other way because “they understand
that no one can live face to face with the natural world without a gun.” Most
houses have television and Internet connected by satellite dishes, but few have
don’t lock their houses but do take care of each other. Despite their
reputation, they are seldom alcoholics – and anyone who descends into that life
is helped along by other villagers rather than left to die. Medical care is
minimal, and people rely on natural remedies. There is virtually no money
economy. Everything is by barter.
residents try to independently solve all their problems because they cannot
count on outside officials, Pozanenko said.“The only thing which really constitutes a threat to their independence
is the closure of the local school.” People aren’t interested in home
schooling, and if the school closes, the continued existence of the village is
Most residents think their isolation is
basically a good thing, and few want to leave, men in particular. Women are somewhat
more interested in moving away. But what is striking, the researcher found, is
that many young people who go away for schooling ultimately return home to