In 1982 I visited the Soviet Union out of simple curiosity. I was at least moderately convinced that these were not bad people and that my government - indeed ALL Western governments - told a lot of lies about them.
I spent a little over three weeks divided between Moscow, Leningrad (now St Petersburg), Yalta, and Kiev. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and knew I needed to come back - it was a huge country, and is still the world's largest even after the USSR no longer exists.
So I booked a second trip in 1986 - this time for nine weeks and visited almost everywhere except Siberia. I saw Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Georgia as well as returning to Moscow and Leningrad.
I like to tell the story of meeting a group of American physicians and taking a boat cruise with them. This was the beginning of my visit, and the last day of theirs. I was seated beside an orthopaedic surgeon from Oregon and I asked him what he thought of the USSR now that he had seen it for himself. He became visibly irritated and told me he was livid with his own country for lying to him about the USSR throughout his whole life. He was right ... my country did it too.
Unfortunately, I was unable to visit Kiev on this second trip because it was too close to Chernobyl. That disappointment still bothers me because Kiev was a beautiful place - and if the current US stooge government has not totally destroyed ruined everyting, it probably still is. I was greatly distressed by the photos and videos that came out of Kiev during the fascist take-over of Maidan Square 4 years ago.
I have fond memories of Kiev - I know that place, or at least I know what it used to be.
- prh, ed.
|Thirty years after the fallout, while men still stay away, the forests, the animals, the plants, everything is thriving, revived by nature.|
Simon – a human-friendly fox, whom often approaches groups in the exclusion zone, asking for food.|
|The Nuclear power plant sarcophagus, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone|
|The monumental trail with the evacuated villages’ names on either side.|
|A trolleybus in one of Chernobyl’s scrapyards.|
|The Bucket (machine part) that was used to clean the roof of the failed reactor after the fallout, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.|
|A lake within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.|
|The iconic 26 meter tall Ferris wheel in Pripyat’s amusement park.|
|The rotting grand piano in the concert hall of the abandoned town of Pripyat.|
|“Duga” radar system, used as part of the Soviet anti-ballistic missile early-warning network.
Shot from the bottom, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.|
|Abandoned farm in Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.|
|Butterflies and flowers in the forest, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.|
|Pripyat Sports hall, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.|
|The Azure Swimming Pool in Pripyat, Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.|
Vladimir Migutin is a photographer who explores the world with an infrared camera.