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

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Alexandra is now a member of a “foreign agent” organization

A few days ago, on April 20 2017, the Ministry of Justice declared the Kola Ecological Center, of which my mate Alexandra is a member, a “foreign agent” for receiving foreign financing and being engaged in political activity.

Its “political activity” appears to be taking part in public hearings where government officials were present.

The “foreign agent” status means, in addition to a serious stigma, a significant increase in the amount of reporting paperwork the NGO has to do.

The Kola Ecological Center is behind the eco-trails east of Kandalaksha and near Kolvitsa. They also orchestrated the construction of a WW2 memorial in Kolvitsa. These are the sort of things that stand out in their work, not attempting to influence Russian government officials using foreign funds.

Africanda, Polarnye Zori district

Yesterday, for no particular reason other than its curious name, we headed to a place called Africanda, about 10 miles north from Polarnye Zori. The story says that the name originated as a joke, when railroad station builders encountered a particularly hot, Africa-like, summer day. The village offers among the most spectacular local ruins. The town core however appears relatively civilized, full of small two-story houses surrounded by pine trees. Here are a few photos to convey to you the sense of the place:

Somehow I’d expected to see more than one palm tree in a place named after Africa

“Soldiers” bath” at the entrance to the now closed military facility

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Ice invasion

“In the winter of 1888, on the 5th (new style: 18th) of January, at about three in the morning, the residents of Kashkarantsy were awakened by a strange and terrifying noise of ice mountains of huge size moving onto their village from the sea, destroying barns, houses, and boats..”

Saw the same thing in its miniature version yesterday:

Beginning of Spring in the White Sea

It’s just a few pictures of our walks around Kandalaksha during March.

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“A Lake in the Sea” film from the “Nature Reserve Format” festival

Today we went to the “Nature Reserve Format” film festival in Kandalaksha. The best film shown, in the opinion of many, was “A Lake in the Sea”.

Just noticed that it is available on the Youtube with English subtitles, and am thus sharing it with you..

Spring is here: Two kids off to the sea on an ice floe

Spring’s traditional misadventure in the form of an unsceduled trip to the White Sea distances has apparently taken place today, with two kids taking off on an ice floe. Apparently it all ended well but I have no details.

Happens around this time of the year to quite a number of fishermen..

 

Foreigner access to Rybachy and Sredny

I’ve recently have been once again looking at the issue. It appears that the only way to get the FSB (former KGB) permit is via a local incoming travel agency. Those I’ve contacted (www.atv51.ru, snow51.ru, and www.m-tour.ru) would only arrange permits to the participants of their tours that start at ~$400/person. I’m continuing to look for one that would provide assistance with no strings in the form of tour participation attached.

Any hints or suggestions?

British cemetery in Murmansk

A couple of years ago I wrote mentioning the British Cemetery in Murmansk from the WW1 days. Recently I got a request for grave photos, and received the following story from Alexandra’s Murmansk acquaintances that I’d like to share with you:

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Free guide for English speaking travelers to Kandalaksha.

Here is a message from one of my English students:
 
My name is Irina and I’m studying English for the third year now. I freely read books and watch movies but I desperately need English conversation practice. If you are not afraid my bad English I will be your guide and show you around Kandalaksha.
 
I’ve been living here for twelve years and there hardly is a question about the town that I can’t answer. Where to stay, where to eat, what to visit, how to enjoy your trip – just ask.
 
Please email me mast.ruk@yandex.ru or call +7 911 3050721. I’m available on weekends.