Monday, March 6, 2023

New Window on the Russian North Opens in Kirkenes

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 4 – Most centers of the Russian emigration past and present are devoted to issues of Russia as a whole, but the size of the emigration is now so large that there is a kind of specialization going on with people from one region or republic concentrating in one place abroad and serving as an important window on places within Russian borders.

            One such that is now taking place is in Kirkenes, a city in northern Norway only a few kilometers from the Russian Federation. There, The Barents Observer, a major source of news about the Russian north, has opened its newsroom to journalists from there (

Atle Staalesen of the news agency says this is a joint initiative with UiT The Arctic University of Norway and will be devoted to making use of the special expertise emigres from the Russian North can provide. It is being funded by the Fritt Ord Foundation, the Tinius Trust, as well as the municipality of Sør-Varanger and County Council of Troms and Finnmark.

The first two émigré journalists, Denis Zagore and Georgii Chentemirov, arrived in Kirkenes last fall and currently are producing stories about Northern developments. They have now been joined by Elizaveta Vereykina, a Russian video journalist with several years of experience at the Moscow bureau of the BBC.

She says she has come to Kirkenes because the North is a place of opportunity and importance and because she can do real journalism in Norway, something that is not currently possible in Russia.“

Kari Aga Mykleboot, a historian at Tromso University who is supervising this joint initiative, says that it is part of a broader effort to “seek new forms of cooperation to preserve and develop Norwegian know-how on Russia.” Events there, he says, mean that “our support for Russian civil society from now on must be aimed at exile communities.”

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