Vorkuta is the fourth largest city beyond the Arctic Circle, the easternmost city in Europe. The main city area is surrounded by a dense ring of workers' settlements. Almost as soon as Vorkuta was founded, it became home to one of the largest Gulag camps, to which prisoners from all over the world were exiled. By 1951 there were 73,000 people in the camp, including foreigners. That is why the city was given a second, unofficial name “capital of the world.” Vorkuta's population is rapidly shrinking — it ranks first in the country in terms of the rate of population decline. While in the 1990s more than 110,000 people lived here, now it has a population of less than 60,000. The villages built beside the mines were the first to die out. Nowadays, most of them look like ghost towns. People leave their houses and apartments, throwing away furniture and other items that are too expensive to transport from this remote corner of Russia. They leave their personal histories and their former lives behind them in Vorkuta.
The capital of a disappearing world (long-term project)
Series, 1st place
A woman walks her dog, in the background there is the abandoned Vorkuta village of Rudnik.
Sergey and Olga – former employees of the Vorkuta mines, in their apartment in the Vorkuta village of Severny.
Dormitory in Vorkuta.
Two friends playing musical instruments during dinner.
A monument to the victims of repression who died in the Gulag in the abandoned village of Rudnik.
Herbs are grown indoors all year round because it is impossible to grow them outdoors.
Children swim in the Vorkuta river.
A miner at the Vorkuta mine Komsomolskaya returns home from his work.
Memorial to the miners and rescue workers killed by an explosion at the Severnaya mine in 2016.
Lenin Street in Vorkuta in the fog. In the background there is the administrative building of Vorkutaugol company (Severstal). In the second half of December a polar night sets in. The daylight in Vorkuta at this time of the year lasts only an hour and a half.
At a boarding school for the children of reindeer herders in the Vorkuta village of Vorgashor, pupils stand near the “chum” (a traditional reindeer raw-hide tent) in one of the classrooms.
Reindeer herders waiting for a reindeer team race during the City Day celebration.