Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rural Areas in North Caucasus and South Russia Emptying Out Rapidly

Paul Goble


            Staunton, February 22 – As elsewhere in the Russian Federation, people are leaving rural areas in the North Caucasus and adjoining areas, leaving villages deserted or half-deserted, undercutting prospects for agricultural growth, and changing the security situation in many places. Indeed, in many of these places, the only things that remain are cemeteries.


            In an article on today, Nikolay Kucherov reports that there are now 171 dead villages in the North Caucasus Federal district and 80 more in which there are ten or fewer residents and that in the neighboring South Russian Federal District, the corresponding figures are 140 and 270 (


            The journalist says he decided to visit “one of the last of the Mohicans,” his term for those who remain in the half-forgotten and almost-completely-deserted villages in the southern section of Krasnodar kray, even though he had been warned that there were no roads, even though they continue to be shown on most maps.


            Together with a group of archivist enthusiasts, Kucherov went by paved road, then dirt road and finally a barely marked track to the Udovno-Porkovsky village, which no longer has electricity or water because people earlier stole and sold the metal, and which does not have Internet access either.


            What it does have, he discovered, are a large number of ruined buildings where almost no one lives anymore but where those who do remain committed to the agricultural life they have practiced and continue to practice despite all the difficulties, including cattle rustlers and other thieves, and provides milk and other products to urban areas.


            Thirty years ago, there were 500 people there, a collective farm, two schools, and an entire community. Now, there is a handful, and many of them clearly fear that in the future there will be “nothing except a cemetery,” Kucherov says.


            The Russian village, only three kilometers from the border with Karachayevo-Cherkessia, has always had good relations with its neighbors there, helping them out when needed and being helped out in return.  But those with that kind of experience of cooperation are disappearing along with the village.


            One remaining resident acknowledged that “now a different generation has come” and does not remember such things.


            Veterinarians still come to the village, residents say. But when asked what is the most difficult thing in their lives, one of them responded “roads” – or more precisely the lack of the integuments which would link them to the cities and to the rest of the world and which could save their way of life.


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