Questions on Russian travel (in particular to the north-west of European part of the country), working, or living are most welcomed. Write to, contact me via Skype at Uncle_Pasha_2011, or use chat at the bottom right corner of this page.

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It’s your fault, Norwegians!


Courtesy of Thomas Nilsen/The Barents Observer

A Murmansk-based environmental organization Bellona, recently named a “foreign agent”, reports that a claim was made by the deputy minister of the environment of the Murmansk oblast Vladimir Khrutsky that cross-border pollution from Norway is responsible for 52% of all industrial pollution in the Kola Peninsula. Quite consistent with the current trend of looking for enemies within (eg. “foreign agents”) or without (the West).

Our ecotourism friends in Chupa now have their site

It is for the time being Russian only although they do speak English. To help them access international audience I’ve prepared the following English summary of what they offer.

Arctic Dolphin Ecotourism. Chupa, Loukhi District, Republic of Karelia

1Skype: suprunenko.yuliya  Telephones: +7 921 227 1158, +7 953 537 3240, +7 953 537 3114  E-mail:

This is a summary. For full version see, in Russian.

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Recurring events in Kandalaksha and area

This summary of regular events personally known to us in the Murmansk region and Northern Karelia was prepared by Alexandra, who was prompted to do so by an enquiry from Finland, the author of which complained that no comprehensive info on local events is available, especially in English.

All the locations except Umba and Chupa are open to travellers from abroad. Talk to us if you need to obtain a permit to stay in Umba or Chupa.

Here is the summary of events that you can visit or participate in:


Yearly show/competition “Crazy chainsaw”, international in scope, usually held in the 20th of January. Sculptors create their works in front of viewers in 90 min. using a chainsaw.

The location is the city of Kirovsk, 130km north from Kandalaksha, or 212km south from Murmansk. No limitation to foreigner access. We wrote about this before:


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Russia vs. Finland

Went to Rovanijemi, Finland, for a couple of days recently. Travelled about the same distance over Finland as over Russia, about 170km in each country. What a stark contrast between Russia, with its rough roads and miles of empty land, and Finland, with freshly painted country houses, clean towns, abandant cafes, hotels and motels of all sorts, and numerous filling stations!

Is there a pattern where Russia annexes its neighbours’ land to turn it into a desert? Below, in gray, is the area annexed from Finland in the 1939-1940 “Winter War” and turned into wasteland.

Wish I had a way of making a living other than enticing travellers to this land that deserves full boycott.

Heavy-duty authenticity: ice-cellar filling time

There are lots of places around the White Sea with no electricity, which keeps ice cellars relevant.

Here is a story from the village of Kuzreka, which is one of the places, actively inhabited, that still lack electricity:


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Contrasts of northern nature: butterflies and aurora borealis

2 (4)Spring has begun. The snow is visibly melting every day. Grass is already growing, birds singing, butterflies coming to life.

And at the same time..

Tonight, Imandra lake, a typical deep-winter phenomenon. Photos by Valentine Zhiganov.

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