When we look at documentaries about the ex-soviet states we can see that many villages become deserted because of the young people going to find their luck and prosperity in the cities.
For the last decade, Simon Kordonsky has led a group of scholars at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics in investigating what rural Russia is like, why it is now so different from what it was in the past, and why because of these changes Moscow often fails to take it into account in its approach to the country.
Among “the new people” of rural Russia, his team has found, are “those who want to isolate themselves from social contacts and government supervision, dacha owners, people who want to live in harmony with nature, and sectarians.” In many cases, these people are moving into places that have been deserted by their former residents.The people who left the countryside to make their life in the cities, created spaces where citizens from the busy towns could find some quietness and could find a possibility to come back in unison with nature.
Today it is not any more the state which determines where people have to live, nor what they have to do. People seem to be free to go wherever they want. The state leaves it to them to make individual choices on their own for economic or other reasons.
On the one hand, that has led to an emptying out of the original population in many rural areas. But on the other, it has sparked a move in the other direction with “residents of major cities beginning to move into the provinces,” a situation that is possible because many Russians now have two or three homes, often at opposite ends of the country.
Related to and reinforcing this is the disappearance of traditional settlement forms and the appearance of new communities, which have “intentionally isolated themselves from state supervision.” On the basis of his team’s research, Kordonsky says, “we have come to understand that hidden life is everywhere.”
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