"We are frozen up and we enjoy it." Life and dreams in Arctic town

"Our Tiksi is extraordinary, and the Northern Sea Route development is a federal task. Soon, we will have direct flights to Moscow, St. Petersburg, as soon as we upgrade the runway," Bulunsky District’s head Igor Kudryashov notes

MOSCOW, September 17. /TASS/. Communication is next to none here, and Internet bills may be 15-20 thousand rubles a month ($206-275). Getting to the town in summer is by sea or by plane from Yakutsk. In the cold season travelers get another option – to drive along the so-called winter road – the ice-covered snow, pressed by heavy vehicles. TASS correspondent spent a few days in Tiksi to learn how people live in the town, which former was known as the Arctic’s capital.

“Whenever you want to collect berries or to get an animal in the tundra, or to fish in the sea, ask Bayanai for it. Then treat the tundra: with a slice of bread or a candy – whatever you’ve got,” a Yakut, Vasily Burtsev, living in Tiski told me. Bayanai is the Yakuts’ spirit, the owner of nature, the saint patron of hunters.

Together with Vasily we stand amid the real tundra. To the left is the endless Laptev Sea embraced by black shores. The shores are black in color because of the rocks: they say, the stone is stronger than granite, but the time and water anyway have broken the stone into tiny pieces, almost the sand.

To the right continues the endless tundra – colorful mosses, lichens, berries, mushrooms and flowers. Whoever said that the tundra has no colors was absolutely wrong.

Only 30 minutes ago the sky was clear and sunny, and now the clouds are heavy, and it drizzles. The air is still incredibly clean – breathing it is like drinking pure spring water.

Tiksi’s past and present

We go to the tundra to “hunt” cloudberries. It’s a traditional occupation for the locals. Tiksi – the town where Vasily lives – is a regional center and Russia’s northernmost port. The town is in the tundra. We drive off-road just a few kilometers to collect berries.

In the Soviet times, Tiksi was called the Arctic’s capital. Scientists, well-educated specialists, the youth came here to develop and study the North. The Perestoika put an end to those dreams.

The current population is about 4,500. A few military units and a port are located here. Any studies have been practically stopped. The town takes about 14.5 square kilometers, comparable with a big district in Moscow.

“The biggest disaster here was 20 years ago,” Vasily said. He is 36 now. Vasily is the head of a local leisure and sports center: it is both a fitness center, a movie theater and a public space facility.

In the late 1990s – early 2000s on many occasions the town remained cut off electricity, and robbery in the streets did not surprise anyone. Many houses are abandoned nowadays – people simply used to run away from the town.

At the same time, housing costs do not fall, they even rose a little in the past year – the locals say a two-room apartment’s price is around 2 million rubles ($27,500), and monthly maintenance fees would be about 6-8 thousand rubles ($100).

“That’s because life has improved here, almost no drunkards. I think, this is due to our complex, which appeared in Tiksi in 2012,” Vasily said.

Anyway, it’s not the best idea to be walking here: not because of people, but because of the weather: winters are eight – ten months long.

“We have facilities for leisure, culture, sports, a gym, a work-out facility – that is we are the center of life, and everyone who wants to spend free time comes here. Kids and adults learn to dance or to sing. Almost all lessons are free,” Vasily said.

“Ecologically clean” children free from YouTube or Instagram

A true problem in the town is the lack of communication. Maximum available are only messengers, though not always. Thus, spending hours on social networks, or uploading pictures on Instagram, or surfing YouTube is practically out of question. The town is amid the taiga stretching for hundreds of kilometers. Laying any cables is top expensive.

The locals come to the leisure complex to get the Internet access. Ten minutes are free, and then – a few hours could be 150-200 rubles ($2 – 2.7). The speed could be sufficient just to exchange a few pictures or to read the news.

“Having the Internet access at home is a luxury! For private clients, tariffs are beyond limits and the speed is extremely slow. Costs depend on the time, no unlimited options are available, and it is not a rare occasion that people may be charged 15-20 thousand rubles ($206-275), they are unable to pay, cancel the agreement, and thus the due payments are deducted from salaries, and they have to settle fines – endless problems, thus it’s easier to come to the club,” Vasily said.

Svetlana Fedorova, a teacher of young school students, with work experience of 30 years at the Arctic school (the biggest in the region, with more than 350 students), says she is happy to an extent that the town does not have the Internet.

“Our students are ‘ecologically clean’, they do not see trash on the Internet, they do not kill hours staring into gadgets. They do not drink alcohol, they go in for sports, only a few smoke. We do not have drugs at all, and besides, our kids are very kind. At times, when I talk with other teachers, they would say how students may insult, or throw something into a teacher, or to shout. Nothing of the kind happens at our school – if a kid walks by without saying good morning – that is an exception which proves the rule! A teacher may in such a case even invite parents,” Svetlana said.

Drawbacks are also to be mentioned. During the pandemic, students could not have remote classes, and teachers had to prepare tasks for every kid, and every day those tasks were handed over to the parents, who in exchange returned prepared works. Any problems or questions could be discussed only over the phone.

Movies and popcorn

The town has a movie theater, which is also in the ‘point of attraction’ – the cultural-sports complex. Movies are on from nine in the morning to midnight. Even if only one ticket is sold, the movie will be on. The movies are not different from those shown on the mainland.

Next to the entrance to the movie theater is a kiosk with popcorn and beverages. Right now, however, its work has been suspended, as the owner has left for holidays for a few months.

Caviar instead of tangerines, and who are Sakhalyars

“That’s not the way to eat caviar! Look how it’s done!” Sargylana (the name means “dawn”), a Yakut beauty, tears a piece of bread from the loaf, scoops with it the Arctic cisco caviar right from a bowl and passes it over to me. The taste is beyond my words.

Sargylana, her friends and daughters are cooking lunch for the town – together with the Clean Arctic volunteers all the local residents have gone to the Laptev Sea shore to remove from there the waste, pipes and scrap metal left from the past industrial life. After the work, the cleaning team will enjoy fish soup.

“This is what we usually eat. We have fish, caviar, berries from taiga, venison – for us it is like eating potato for you. At the same time, potato is not affordable here – could be 300 rubles ($4) a kilo. And tangerines, if close to New Year, could be 800 rubles ($11). But we do buy them, to make kids happy,” she said with a smile.

She is 45. The mother of eight kids. Practically without wrinkles – joyful laughter and bright eyes. She happily shares the beauty hack. “This is due to the frosts. In winter even minus 40, and non-stop snow storms. We are frozen up, and we enjoy it,” she laughed.

This magic hack works for anyone here, regardless of origins.

“It’s hard to tell my ethnicity. The locals name us the Sakhalyars, that is Metises. My father is a Polish from Ukraine, and my mom is a southern Yakut. Dad came to serve here, met my mom, and changed the native town for this town. However, every other year he visited Ukraine. Now, regretfully, connections are lost, and in the current political situation we are not traveling there,” said Svetlana Fedorova, who at the age of 56 looks as if she is about 35.

Lessons at the local school are in Russian, and in addition to regular subjects the students study the Yakut language and culture.

“In fact, here, the indigenous people are the Evenks, but they are very few – only the elderly in far-away villages still speak the language. Thus, their kids hear only Russian and Yakut,” the teacher said sighing.

Dream town, houses with tunnels and co-working

Yet, despite all the problems, practically every person, with who we managed to speak, believes in Tiksi’s good future. The Bulunsky District’s head, Igor Kudryashov, said – give us time, and Tiski will develop into a dream town.

“Our Tiksi is extraordinary, and the Northern Sea Route development is a federal task. Soon, we will have direct flights to Moscow, St. Petersburg, as soon as we upgrade the runway. Right now, together with volunteers we are cleaning the coastline, where we will make a park – the first park in Tiksi, I hope it will be ready next year. Besides, we have a plan to make transparent tunnels between houses – they will be with lighting. First of all, it will be easier for the locals to leave houses for work, for kids to go to school even in snow storms, when the harsh wind is 50 meters per second. Secondly, we hope to attract tourists, who are not many now – before the pandemic, we welcomed about 1,000 guests a year, while now – not more than 300,” the official said.

The local authorities rely on active residents. One of them is Artem Oslopov. He is a local celebrity – was born in Tiksi, studied in London, worked in IT in Moscow, but returned to Tiksi after his mother died to support father.

He now runs the Arctic Lighthouse newspaper, managers making souvenirs, and hopes to open a training school here. Artem loves Tiksi – says he is tired of the Moscow posh style. On the other hand, the local slowness irritates him.

“Our biggest problem is in human resources. Employers hire people hoping they will get trained while working. But, for example, being an economist is not easy without training. We want to open here distance education courses to train various skills. This is doable if we put together such courses, have them recorded and delivered here. The training terms will be between a few months to one year – for school graduates and for older people. We have been working on the courses with an educational institution on the mainland,” Artem said.

Tiksi’s another activist is Ilya Kravchenko. He lives in Crimea, but, as he puts it, is “overwhelmed with” Tiksi, and comes to the town every year.

“My first trip here was as a cameraman in a popular-science project, when I realized: the Arctic is something super interesting. Together with my friends and partners I have worked out a concept to develop Tiksi. We’ve given to the concept the local newspaper’s name – the Arctic Lighthouse. We see the Arctic as a platform to mobilize and unite active people, technologies and relations to organize an international dialogue and to make a quality breakthrough in the country’s development. We see Tiksi as a location, from where it is easier and quicker to start this route,” Ilya said.

They also plan to organize in Tiksi a space for modern researchers – something like co-working, and, besides, to build a modern hotel. Presently, visitors have to ask the locals for accommodation.


Vasily and I were lucky in our tundra trip: within about 20 minutes we filled a jar of tasty and ripe cloudberries. The berries are juicy and slightly fermented, heady – like the great plans to develop Tiksi.

Nobody doubts the result will be positive – the Arctic people can do a lot. Meanwhile, I have to return. What a bad luck: the weather is getting worse, the harsh wind, the rain, and the flight is delayed for more than 24 hours. “Bayanai, Bayanai, let me go,” I whisper and put a candy for the taiga god, hoping to come here once again.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Russia records isolated cases of AY.4.2 COVID-19 variant, says expert

MOSCOW, October 21. / TASS /. Russia registered some isolated cases of the AY.4.2 COVID-19 variant, a subtype of the Delta strain, Kamil Khafizov, Head of the Scientific Group for ... Read more »

UNGA president slams 'unacceptable' vaccination rate among developing countries

Abdulla Shahid also believes that the international community, all 193 countries, have the capacity to immunize the entire world by the end of 2022 Read more »

WHO to decide on approval of Russian Sputnik V jab after last inspection

CEO of the RDIF Kirill Dmitriev expressed hope that the vaccine would be authorized by the WHO in the next couple of months Read more »

WHO resumes approval process for Sputnik V jab - Russian Direct Investment Fund

Meanwhile, RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said in an interview with CNN that WHO experts were expected in Russia soon and that he was hopeful Sputnik V would be approved by the WHO within the next two months Read more »

Sharon Stone leaves fans breathless as she struts in stunning little black dress

Sharon Stone left fans gasping with another incredible fashion moment as she wowed social media with her latest post. MORE: Sharon Stone dazzles in sensational gold gown you need to ... Read more »

Theatre in spotlight over demands that staff educate themselves on white privilege

Roy Alexander Weise is the first black person to hold the position of artistic director at the Royal Exchange – Piers Allardyce/Shutterstock Theatre staff will be made to read about ... Read more »

Christine Lampard wears a totally wild dress to Jamie Redknapp's wedding

Are you off to a wedding in the foreseeable future? Not sure what to wear? Look no further than the fabulous Christine Lampard. READ: Christine Lampard wows Loose Women fans ... Read more »

Spotify and co. under fire in UK government investigation over industry power

Britain’s competition regulator plans to launch an examination of the music streaming market to see whether the likes of Spotify and co. are giving fans enough choice. The watchdog’s announcement ... Read more »

How not being 'bound by history' helped Copenhagen become the world's number one city for food

In early October, organisers of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants confirmed what many in gastronomy had known for years – there’s no beating the Vikings. By naming Copenhagen’s Noma and ... Read more »

Syrian refugee puppet Little Amal arrives in the UK to complete her journey

A giant puppet of a Syrian refugee child created to symbolize millions of displaced children has arrived in England on the last leg of its journey across Europe. The 11.5-foot ... Read more »

World's biggest book fair opens its doors in Frankfurt

After a ‘virtual break’ due to COVID last year, the world’s biggest book fair just kicked off its 73rd edition in Frankfurt. With 2,000 publishers from 80 countries presenting their ... Read more »

Hainan's Sanya is recognized as one of the healthiest cities in China

A special index takes into account the resources of the health care system, the services it provides, the extent to which the health of its residents is protected, the environment, and the overall health of the population Read more »

This week, Oslo's new Munch Museum finally opens to the public!

Oslo’s iconic Munch Museum is back and better than ever, following a multi-year, multi-billion kroner renovation. The museum revamp comes with a name change in tow. This is no longer ... Read more »

How our art critic ended up in the Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules – review

What should a critic do? I’m sure there must be rules: don’t take backhanders from galleries. Don’t get too intimate with artists, especially not dead ones. Declare any conflicts of ... Read more »

The top photographs from the World Pano awards

The Epson Pano Awards‘ winning entries take you from the wetlands of Louisiana to a jellyfish-filled lake in the republic of Palau Curious travellers have spent a long period cut ... Read more »

A new educational program opened its doors in the experimental educational zone in Hainan

Some 86 students will take part in a one semester internship program in the framework of the project Read more »

Putin signs decree declaring non-working days from October 30 to November 7

The presidential decree comes into force on the day of its official publication Read more »

Three men and a literary lady: how the Planeta Literature Prize proved that pseudonyms still work

Earlier this week it was revealed that Carmen Mola, author of a number of widely praised Spanish crime thrillers and recipient of the world’s most expensive literary prize, was actually ... Read more »

Our favourite tiny airports from around the world

gustaf iii airport, st barts – Getty Airports are usually the low-point of any holiday, with queues, bad food, clinical strip lighting and, now, reams of documentation to contend with. ... Read more »

Ex-principal dancer at English National Ballet jailed for sexual abuse of female students

Former English National Ballet principal Yat-Sen Chang (PA Archive) A former principal dancer at the English National Ballet who sexually assaulted young female students has been jailed for nine years. ... Read more »

Nine hacks for making your half-term getaway as smooth as possible

Rome – Getty We are approaching by far the most ‘normal’ half term season since the beginning of the pandemic. Only seven countries are on the UK’s red list: Colombia, ... Read more »

Can I travel to India?

Unsplash ( ) In 2019, more than one million British nationals visited India. After closing its borders to foreign nationals in March 2020, India announced that it would grant tourist ... Read more »

Quentin Tarantino receives Lifetime Achievement Award at Rome Film Festival

American film director Quentin Tarantino, known for ‘Pulp Fiction, ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs’, honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award at the Rome Film Festival. He was awarded by Italian horror ... Read more »

Erik Hillestad appointed as knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav

Music producer Erik Hillestad has been appointed by King Harald as a knight 1st class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for his efforts for the church and ... Read more »

COVID-19 deaths reach critical level in 17 Russian regions, Deputy PM says

Tatyana Golikova noted that the continued increase in mortality from COVID-19 causes particular alarm Read more »

Coronavirus situation in Russia becoming complicated — Putin

According to the Russian president, the low vaccination rate "predetermines the rapid spread of infection in many ways" Read more »

Kremlin knows about searches in house allegedly owned by Deripaska in US

Earlier, it was reported that the FBI had searched the homes of Deripaska's relatives in New York and Washington Read more »

Watch: Alexei Navalny wins Sakharov Prize, the EU's highest award for human rights work

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been awarded with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Union’s highest tribute to human rights defenders. The award was selected ... Read more »

Plan for Afghan students to study in Russia in near future — Lavrov

The Russian foreign minister pointed out that Moscow will continue to cooperate with Kabul to solve "pressing and urgent issues of the bilateral agenda" Read more »

Putin has not got revaccinated against COVID yet — Kremlin

"He will do it when the doctors inform him that it can be done," Dmitry Peskov clarified Read more »

Moscow's coronavirus situation deteriorating, says deputy mayor

Anastasia Rakova stressed that if this exponential growth of new cases was not stopped, then the available facilities in the capital would fail to suffice in a few weeks Read more »

Around 650,000 doctors are involved in helping COVID patients — Russian health minister

In Russia, according to the anti-coronavirus crisis center, 8,094,825 infections have been registered Read more »

Malta's secrets are best revealed on a small group tour like this one

Dghajsa skiff in Grand Harbour – MARKSTRATTON There has been much discussion of late about a brave new world of travel, reemerging slower-paced and more localised than it was prior ... Read more »

Rising football hooliganism needs to be tackled, warns Dutch FA

Photo: Depositphotos.com Even though fans have only just been allowed back into stadiums, football hooliganism is on the rise, football association KNVB has said. Some 45 investigations into trouble involving ... Read more »

London's Theatre Royal is bringing sticky, decadent Regency-era afternoon tea back to the West End

The most fitting place to enjoy a rich chocolate cake decorated in quirky green and pink-coloured icing must surely be a sumptuous Regency setting. One London theatre is making that ... Read more »

Dorian review – dizzying descent into Oscar Wilde's masterpiece

It might sound like a safe bet to christen a new theatre with a bit of Oscar Wilde, but this is a bold programming choice from artistic director Paul Stacey. ... Read more »

Yamas! On the retsina trail on the Greek island of Skopelos

Photograph: Hercules Milas/Alamy We’re high in the mountains above Skopelos town and there’s not a single Mamma Mia! fan in sight. A warm breeze stirs the trees, filling the air ... Read more »

Crimea unveils new record peak in daily COVID-19 cases

"In total, about 90,000 new cases have been confirmed since the onset of the pandemic, with 612 cases over the past 24 hours," Deputy Minister of Health of the Republic of Crimea Anton Lyaskovsky said Read more »

Man who allegedly planned to attack Rutte in court for pro forma hearing

The 22-year-old Amsterdammer accused of plotting to kill prime minister Mark Rutte will appear in court for a pro-forma hearing on Wednesday. The man is alleged to have tried to ... Read more »

Over 1,100 children of childcare benefit victims taken into care

Photo: Depositphotos.com Over 1,100 children whose parents were caught up in the childcare benefit scandal were taken into care between 2015 and 2020, figures from national statistics agency CBS have ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic