WALLS OF PUTIN

The tradition to place portraits of prominent leaders on the walls in Russia comes from the depths of the centuries. In the houses there was always a so-called red corner, in which Orthodox icons were placed. Along with them, there were charms, protecting the inhabitants from evil and misfortune. And it was an honour to put pictures of powerful leaders in that special corner.
In the 20th century, the portraits of the leaders of the Communist Party, headed by Vladimir Lenin replaced pictures of Tsars.
In modern Russia, portraits of Vladimir Putin took the place of ancient charms and they remind inhabitants of his role in politics and society. The President of Russia has become a part of the personal life of Russians — their new unifying image.

BEYOND THE SEA OF SAND

In early 18th century, after a conflict with the regime of tsar, several thousands of Cossacks escaped from Russian Don. They named themselves Nekrasov Cossacks in the name of their leader Ignat Nekrasov. For over two centuries they lived in the territory of then Osman Empire (modern Turkey). In the middle of XX century their descendants realised the dream of their ancestors and returned to their Motherland — they were 999 people. The one-thousand’s young Nekrasov Cossack was born on the ship on their way — Semyon Babayev. All of them came to live in the South of Russia in Stavropol Region.

The main condition for their return was the right to practice their own faith. Up until now Nekrasov Cossacks honour their rituals, keep the tradition of a male choir in the church. Their songs keep an Eastern flavour: Turkish songs fusioned with Russian ones. In their modern day life Cossacks have also kept a part of Turkish traditions: they like to sit on carpets crossing their legs and drink coffee, as well as cook Turkish dishes.

One of the legends is the search for the City Of Ignat — a place believed to be founded by the original Nekrasov Cossacks «Beyond the sea of sand». It has never been put on a map. The city lived in the Cossacks themselves as their dream of a world free and just.

LORDS OF THE GUNS

In Russia, military patriotic education has become part of the school system. From an early age children study Russian history, practice appropriate for their age tasks and skills, train at the patriotic military clubs.

In Caucasus region, where the cult of arms and military traditions are strong, there exist specialised cadet schools. In these schools, along with standard scholar cursus, are added such disciplines as spiritual teachings, multi-day field trainings with nights outside, parachute jumping and mastering arms.

On a regular basis cadets go through intensive training program at a base located near Stavropol city. These kids approach in a very adult way their “soldier job”.

Many of these children dream of a military career. One of the cadets, Dmitry Pavlov (17 years old) told us “I enjoy going to the field trips with all the gear, sit by the fire at night and sing to a guitar, wear military uniform, work with younger cadets. Communication with the officers is also very valuable for me. I would not learn at a normal school everything that I have learnt at the cadet’s school”.

GEOMETRY OF URBANIZATION

The humanity has won the competition of species, which inhabit the Earth. It has since intruded in the most remote places of our planet. Gasification, electrification, development — all these activities leave a man’s footprint on the Earth’s body.

During my trip to Dagestan in May 2016 I was constantly observing how humanity defeats the environment, takes the land over meter by meter. We overmaster the Nature with our technologies. Sometimes it does not harm and looks perfect in composition. It became a great inspiration for pictures that I’ve taken during that trip.

PUMPING IRON IN RUSSIA

Bodybuilding. In the Soviet period, the type of athletics known as «bodybuilding» was not welcomed by official institutions as «wrong», as opposed to the «right» weight lifting included in the Olympic program. But people everywhere, from small towns in the far North-East, in Siberia, in Moscow or at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains, persisted by going to the «sweat boxes», equipped in the cellars, to «build a body.» Jammed western magazines with images of unrealistically muscled male and female bodies passed from hands to hands.

An additional impetus to this semi-legal sport took off even more with the growth of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s popularity. Today, when the ban is lifted, bodybuilding popularity has not diminished. The only difference is that some of the clubs moved from the basements into modern fitness centers, although the basement «iron-pumping» remains. A couple of times a year they climb the podium during vatious amateur and even professional tournaments.

Here you can meet anyone — tax inspectors and businessmen, housewives and popular TV presenters. As before, no matter social status, whether you live in a small town in the center of Siberia, or in a big city in the south of Russia, the only important thing is — these people want their body look perfect, and be admired by others.

STRAW FOOTBALL (STRAW SOCCER)

In summer 2018 Russia will host the World Football Championship. One creative farmer from Stavropol region Roman Ponomarev has built a stadium out of pallets of straw in five days and founded the Straw Football League.

During the summer this stadium held football games of the World Straw Football Championship for the teams of surrounding villages. Russian football causes a legitimate anger of its fans because of a low quality of the game and enormous amounts of money paid to the players. In the Straw Football League on the contrary inspires by its low investment and high humor – building of the stadium took only 41 thousand roubles or $683.

At times the heat on the stadium needed to be cooled down and the water cannons took their part in the game.