The New York Times released a package of articles Oct. 13 that focused on Russia, describing the ruin that is facing the country amid the two largest, most prosperous cities, St. Petersburg and Moscow.
The project, titled “The Russia Left Behind: A Journey Through a Heartland on the Slow Road to Ruin” is a group of articles all written by Ellen Berry.
They follow the 430-mile, 12-hour car ride between Russia’s two major cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, and explore what the Russian government and its leader, Vladimir Putin, have forgotten.
Controversy surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Sochi, a city on the southern coastal region of Russia between Georgia and Ukraine asks the question: How can a country afford a $40 billion project to prepare for the Olympic games but not be able to properly take care of its citizens?
The project costs about three and a half times as much as last year’s games in London, according to Berry’s article “A 70 Mile Traffic Jam.”
In “A Modern Train, A Rotting City,” Berry writes “As the state’s hand recedes from the hinterlands, people are struggling with choices that belong to past centuries: To heat their homes with a wood stove, which must be fed by hand every three hours, or burn diesel fuel, which costs half a month’s salary? When the road is so deteriorated that ambulances cannot reach their home, is it safe to stay? When their home can’t be sold, can they leave?”
In the 1960s and 1970s, a survey put villages in categories of “promising” or “unpromising,” which determined if government support would be supplied to the people living there.
This creates the problem of isolating people or making them move from their homes into the more “promising” areas.
Roads leading to most villages are not properly maintained, causing people to be even more isolated.
One village argued that it was the duty of the government to keep roads travelable and received an answer that simply said “no.”
Even the main road that people use to travel between the cities isn’t well maintained.
It creates many struggles for travelers because of it’s poor condition.
In one instance, travelers were stuck on the road for almost three days in a snowstorm that trapped people in their cars in sub-zero temperatures, according to “A 70 Mile Traffic Jam.”
In the article “I am the Boss, You are a Fool, Berry says, “Most Russians live in housing built in the late Soviet period. A report released last year by the Russian Union of Engineers found that 20 percent of city dwellings lack hot water, 12 percent have no central heating and 10 percent no indoor plumbing.
“Gas leaks, explosions and heating breakdowns happen with increasing frequency, but in most places infrastructure is simply edging quietly toward collapse.”
Should Russia be able to host the Olympics when the money its leaders plan to use for preparation could be better used in public works projects?
The government has the ability to help its citizens but instead is hosting a hub of entertainment for the rest of the world while their citizens are just trying to get by.
FIND THE ARTICLES
To read the articles written by Ellen Berry, visit http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/10/13/russia/?ref=todayspaper