photographer

Every spring, when the Teza river overflows , the old Russian village of Kholui well known for it’s lacquer miniatures becomes a kind of Russian Venice, with villagers getting about in small boats.

On August 24th, 2012 at 4am local time, six Greenpeace activists from Canada, Germany, Finland, the United States, and the company’s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo from South Africa, set off in three inflatable speedboats from their ship, the Arctic Sunrise. They were heading towards Gazprom’s ‘Prarazlomnaya’ off-shore oil platform, three miles away, in the Barents Sea and 6000 miles east of Murmansk, Russia. Having scaled the platform, they set up occupation tents on its side. It was the first time that Greenpeace had carried out a direct action against Russia’s Arctic drilling and it came amid alarming new reports of melting summer ice in the region.
The ‘Prirazlomnaya’ is the first permanent offshore oil platform in the Arctic and marks the creeping industrialization of this fragile area. The construction phase on the platform is said to be nearly complete, and Gazprom is anxious to begin drilling and become the first oil company to start commercial scale production in the Arctic Ocean.
Despite the extreme operating conditions, Gazprom has only released a general summary of its oil spill response plan to the public. Yet even this document shows that the company would be completely unprepared to deal with an accident in the Far North, and would rely on substandard cleanup methods — such as shovels and buckets — that simply do not work in icy conditions.
A few days after occupying the ‘Prirazlomnaya’, Greenpeace activists carried out further peaceful actions at the site of the platform, during which activists spent their days and nights in inflatable boats, hovering around the platform and preventing the workers from getting aboard to complete construction of the oil rig.
On the third day of the action, the environmentalists attached themselves to the anchor chain of the Anna Akhmatova passenger vessel and chained their motorboat to it, preventing the ship from lifting anchor and sailing to the platform to complete the work that would allow Gazprom to begin drilling in the fragile region.

Dedicated to Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise’s Chief engineer Rumen Raykov, 52, from Bulgaria who died unexpectedly in Norwegian port just some days after the Barents sea travel ended.

This story on Planetpics is here


Multimedia project OFFSHORE WARRIORS
For Greenpeace International. August 2012

The collapse of the Soviet empire, followed by the 90s’ political and economic chaos in Russia and people’s uncertainty in the future, has grown into a large crack in the country’s demographics.
Two decades after the fall of the iron curtain, Russia has faced decreasing native population and a one-way, west-oriented, migration – with Central Asian citizens replacing the native Russians who migrate to Europe and the United States. The changes have created national and cultural gaps, which move the rich and the poor, the white- and the darker-skinned further apart.
Most low-paid heavy work on building sites, in markets or on the streets is now done by workers from Central Asia - Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan – places, whose economies have never managed to get up and stand firm on their own feet after the Soviet Union ceased to exist. Official statistics put the total number of such immigrants to Russia at just under 1 million, although unofficial estimates say there are several million, mostly in and around Moscow.
Despised by most natives, immigrants keep coming, supported by the flourishing corruption in the country, which has made work permits easily obtained online or through bribes.
First, they come alone, and then with wives and children, only a few of whom manage to learn Russian, get education and use it.
This picture story has been awarded with Second Place by The center of Documentary photography “FOTODOC”
The story on
Reuters photographers blog
My special thanks for idea, help and support to Reuters editor and photographer Will Webster

ООО «РН-Пурнефтегаз», структурное подразделение НК «Роснефть» со своих многочисленных постеров, установленных вдоль федеральной трассы Ноябрьск-Н.Уренгой обещает добавить ярких красок в жизнь Пуровского района, Ямало-Ненецкой области. Территории, где столетиями живут родовые общины коренных жителей Севера: ненцев, селькупов, хантов,- и которая уже полвека является местом добычи нефти и газа.

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“Young silly girls” that’s how Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov referred to Ukrainian Femen movement activists Oxana Shachko, Anna Deda and Irina Fomina. The three were sentenced to 5-12 days jail for appearing topless at an election site during the presidential vote in Russia and imitating an attempt to steal the ballot box, which Putin had used to vote earlier in the day.
It was the first time Deda and Fomina had been in jail…..

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The Nenets tribespeople of Russia’s frozen Yamal peninsula have survived the age of the Tsars, the Bolshevik revolution and the chaotic 1990s, but now confront their biggest challenge — under their fur-bundled feet is enough gas to heat the world for five years. Numbering around 42,000, the Nenets are entirely dependent on reindeer, which appear on the Yamal region’s crest, and are animists. Their strict code of superstitions and gender divisions has been virtually untouched for at least a millennium. Nenets migrate north to south over 150 km every year, spending only a few days in one place, living off reindeer and fish and lugging their “chums”, or tents, kerosene lamps and wood-fired stoves on reindeer-pulled sleighs.
Experts and the Nenets say industry will damage and pollute the tundra, whose flat marshy terrain switches from marigold russets in summer to thick winter snow and is peppered with disc-like thermokarst lakes and crystal blue waterways.

Story by Amie Ferris-Rotman/REUTERS

This picture story has been awarded with Honorable Mention by The Best of Photojournalism 2010 of the NPPA in the Environmental Picture Story category.

My two-weeks length embed with “Dustoff” Medevac team, C Company, 1-214 Aviation Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Camp Dwyer in Afghanistan’s war-torn Helmand Province is over. But I’ve been still looking around trying to find my two-way radio. I haven’t heard “Medevac, Medevac, Medevac” call signs for a long time already. Those calls mean that something bad has happened. Created in the 70th to airlift casualties from battlefield Dustoff still exists. The legend says, when the US army deployed the 57th Medical Detachment to Vietnam in 1962, they were given the radio call sign Dustoff. The main idea of its existing hasn’t changed. But in Afghanistan over 70% of Medevac missions are to pick up Afghans, be they civilians, soldiers or even militants. In country where life costs nothing and every forth child dies before reaches five their attempt to improve statistic and help every wounded or diseased looks utopian but so humanity. As Sergeant Farrell said to me: “We try to do all we can.” And they can do a lot, indeed.


Дневник на русском read more »

The residents of Muslyumovo village in Russia’s Urals are convinced that they were “lab rats.” Their village on the Techa River to be exposed to radiation waste from a nearby nuclear plant three times in the last 60 years bringing radiation levels to 500 times above global safety limits.
The residents had never been offered a resettlement option until six years ago.
Between 1949 and 1956, a Soviet undercover Mayak nuclear complex, 30 km away from Muslyumovo, dumped 76 million cubic metres of highly radioactive waste into the river, where residents got their drinking water from.
The latest major emission was registered in 1967, when the Karachai waste reservoir partially evaporated after a dry hot summer, letting strong winds disperse clouds of radioactive dust over a vast area.
Mayak, which means “lighthouse” in Russian, continues to operate today, reprocessing foreign irradiated fuel and releasing volumes of radioactive, which lives a 30-year half life.
Several villages along the river were resettled in the 1950s, but the evacuation of the mainly Tatar village of Muslyumovo did not begin until 2006. The government has selectively granted new homes to residents 2 kilometres away from their own homes, leaving dozens behind to face possible health dysfunctions and genetic deformations.
The history of issue on Greenpeace web site and my personal thanks for an invitation to follow them.

Russian Prime Minister Putin occupied the nation’s TV screens while reports of his bravado in fighting forest wildfires littered the media. The rest of the country were dead on their feet, choking with smoke as they fought the disaster. Unable to depend upon Putin, government authority or new luxury equipment for assistance, locals grew weary as they defended their houses using an arsenal of tractors, farm equipment and shovels.
Some relied on their prayers. A priest blessed firefighters in the village of Berestyanka before they continued on. Local residents conducted religious services asking God for rain to prevent new wildfires like the one that partially destroyed the village of Kriusha on August 5. About one hundred people, mostly elderly women, knelt asking God to forgive their sins. They then followed an Orthodox priest during a procession through the village. As they walked, the procession appeared to dissolve into heavy white smog, which had shrouded the settlement. Only their prayers were heard. These words drifted out from behind the screen of smoke “You, God Almighty, ask for our houses, people living there and property inside: bless, sanctify with a holy cross, save us from fire.” The local church was burnt. Though residents could only meet with the priest once a week, they still believe and trust in God.

In the early morning of August 8, 2008, After weeks of low-level hostilities, Rusian and Georgian military forces clashed in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia, marking the start of the conflict that became known as the Five-Day War.
Georgia declared that it intended to restore constitutional order and launched a large-scale military offensive. Russia sent additional troops to South Ossetia, saying they were reinforcements to Russian peacekeepers who are in the area to monitor a 1992 ceasefire between Georgian and South Ossetian forces.
South Ossitia and Abkhazia threw off Georgian rule in wars after the collapse of the Soviet Union and rely on Russia for financial and military support.
After winning the war, Moscow, which had considered South Ossetia its own territory and granted Russian passports to much of the population, recognised the small mountainous region across its southern border as an independent nation.

Held every four years since 1969, this is the 11th International Moscow Ballet Competition and about 120 of the top aspiring dancers from across the world were in competition for the gold medals. Bolshoi Theatre.

Thousands of people spent four nights in the open air, sometimes under heavy rain storm, to enjoy alternative arts and music during “Pustiye Holmi” (Empty Hills) hippie-style festival . Five years ago (in 2003) a successful open-air gathering of 300 people gave birth to the event which later turned into a festival and finally into a movement demonstrating an advanced alternative to the “main stream” approach to music and art in general. Bulgakovo settlement, 250 km southwest of Moscow.

This is a short Christmas story about people who respect their traditions. During a celebrating of Orthodox Christmas in the Carpathian villages adults and children in traditional dress walk door-to-door to perform Christmas carols, known locally as “Kolyadki”, attend church services and mourn their deseased relatives.  Ukraine, january 2008-2009

The 2006 “Second Lebanon War” began on July 12, 2006 and concluded on August 14 with a UN brokered cease fire. The conflict began when Hezbollah terrorists opened fire with rockets on mortars on the Israeli border towns of Zar’it and Shtula, wounding several civilians. During the war, about 1,200 Lebanese were killed, of whom about 500 - 700 were estimated by Israel or the UN to have been Hezbollah guerillas. About 149 Israeli soldiers and 44 civilians were killed. Upward of 4,000 civilians on each side were injured, and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes temporarily or permanently. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 terminated the hostilities by securing Lebanese agreement to take control of Southern Lebanon from the Hezbollah with the help of an enlarged United nations emergency force. July-August 2006

Paintings of masterpiece copier Konstantin Ekshibarov are seen in his house in the town of Chudovo, some 600 km northwest of Moscow. Ekshibarov, a former Red Army toxicologist during World War Two, decided to recreate the beauty of old paintings on his own canvases after witnessing soldiers trampling a French masterpiece during the war. The 82-year-old repeatedly extends his house, which currently holds over 400 copies of the likes of Titian, Rubens and Rembrandt, to make room for more pieces. Ekshibarov, who said he had never received a formal art education, claimed he does not sell his works, wanting to fill his personal museum with his own paintings. August 2007

Since the National Bolshevik Party (NBP) was refused registration as an official party, its preferred political activity has consisted of direct action stunts, mostly against prominent political figures. One of its most famous direct actions consisted of taking over the Ministry of Health in Moscow on August 2, 2004 in order to protest the cancellation of social benefits in Russia. On the national arena, the party is highly critical of the government of Vladimir Putin and considers state institutions such as the bureaucracy, the police and the courts to be corrupt and authoritarian. In return the Russian authorities often employ repressive methods against the NBP, although they have not officially proclaimed it to be an extremist organization. 2004-2009