Staunton, March 29 – Residents of the small Karelian village of Bolshiye Gory are currently living in complete isolation not because of the coronavirus as many others are but because logging companies have destroyed the road and telephonic connections linking them to the outside world and thus prevented them from getting food and medical help.
The village has fewer than 100 residents, but one of their number has managed to post online the fact that they are being left to die out and that the authorities in the Republic of Karelia have done nothing to help them despite all the talks by officials about taking care of the population (m.vk.com/wall103834382_1038 and severreal.org/a/30515752.html).
Three things make this report important. First, this village is only a few hundred kilometers from Finland, one of the most highly developed countries in the world and a place where no one would suffer the fate of the residents of Bolshiye Gori. That more than anything else defines the new line between Russia and the rest of the world.
Second, like many other villagers in the Russian Federation, the isolation they are now experiencing may save them from the coronavirus. The existence of such places may even explain why in some parts of the Russian Federation the reported numbers of infections are so low. But they come with the certainty that the people will die of other causes.
And third, while Moscow has allowed and even encouraged the deaths of villages in the past, the Internet is giving those in the villages that remain a new way to send at least an SOS about their fate, something one can only hope that people of good will will respond to by putting pressure on the Russian authorities to change course and take the villagers’ needs seriously.