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burn magazine

Emerging Photographer Fund – 2013 Recipient

 

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EPF 2013 Runner-up

Oksana Yushko

Balaklava: The Lost History

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This project is a part of my exploration of people’s mind who were born in the USSR.

Changing people’s mind is the most difficult thing. The Soviet Union hasn’t existed for 20 years but the shadow of it lies everywhere. Things have changed but people’s minds and attitudes have not.

I made my way to Balaklava, a small town by the sea in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine. During the Soviet era, it was a city that didn’t exist to the outside world. The town closed to the public for more than 30 years due to the submarine base that was situated there.

Almost the entire population of Balaklava worked at the base and even their family members could not visit the town without a good reason or proper identification. It was a closed society, an ambitious, privileged caste, a major league, a private club with limited membership. Officers were well paid, enjoyed special apartments and were given other privileges. It used to be like this.

After the collapse of the USSR in 1992, the Soviet army was automatically transferred to Russia’s control. It was only in 1997 that the ships and equipment of the Black Sea Fleet were officially divided between the two countries Russia and Ukraine. The process of fleet division remains painful since many aspects of the two navies co-existence are under-regulated, causing recurring conflicts.

The system collapse turned the once privileged Soviet officers into unwanted people.
Crossing the streets of Balaklava, I saw traces of this not only in the town but also on people’s faces. They still live in the past. Their attitude to the present situation is complicated, but most of them don’t want to look forward to the future.

Bio

Oksana Yushko is a freelance photographer based in Moscow. She started working as a professional journalist in 2006 and currently focuses on personal projects in Russia, Chechnya, Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries. Yushko was a selected participant of the 2011 Noor-Nikon Masterclass in Documentary Photography in Bucharest, Romania, and a finalist of the 2010 Conscientious Portfolio Competition. She was also finalist of the 2013 Chiang Mai Documentary Arts Festival, the Grand Prize Winner of Lens Culture International Exposure Awards 2011, a finalist of the Aftermath Project 2010 and a 2011 finalist of the Manuel-Riveira Oritz Foundation. Yushko’s work has been exhibited in galleries in Russia, Finland, UK, USA, and France and her work has been published by media across the world.

 

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The city of Salvador, Brazil, one of the country's main tourist destinations and a 2014 World Cup host city has suffered from an unprecedented wave of deadly violence with an increase of more than 250% in the murder rate (according to the Brazilian Center for Latin American Studies (CEBELA). Reuters photographer, Lunae Parracho traveled to Salvador to document a police patrol through the slums, high-tech police training, a homicide squad, victims of gun violence; and to make portraits of drug gang members. The images that follow are all by Parracho. -- Paula Nelson( 24 photos total)
Police patrol in the Nordeste de Amaralina slum complex in Salvador, Bahia State, March 28, 2013. One of Brazil's main tourist destinations and a 2014 World Cup host city, Salvador is suffering from an unprecedented wave of violence (Lunae Parracho/Reuters)    

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Sixty years ago today New Zealand mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay made the first confirmed ascent of the world's tallest peak which reaches 29,029 feet. Since then thousands of people have made the attempt, with many perishing. Just last week 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to reach the summit for the third time, although he said that he nearly died on the descent and that this would be his last time. The 1953 expedition that took Hillary and Norgay to the top ended with a stay of just 15 minutes, with Norgay leaving chocolates in the snow and Hillary leaving a cross that was given to him by Army Colonel John Hunt, the leader of the British expedition. -- Lloyd Young ( 37 photos total)
Tenzing Norgay, left, and Sir Edmund Hillary on their historic ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. (Associated Press)     

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Tornadoes can form anytime of year, but occur most frequently in April, May, and June, due to favorable weather conditions. Earlier this week a massive 200-mile-per-hour EF5 tornado hit Moore, Okla., killing some two dozen people, damaging thousands of structures, and causing an estimated $2 billion in damage. This year, twisters have already touched down in Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Missouri, and Alabama. ( 46 photos total)
A woman carries a child through a field near the collapsed Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., on May 20. A tornado as much as half a mile wide with winds up to 200 mph roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. (Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press)     

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After two Chechen brothers were named in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings, Reuters photographer Maxim Shemetov took this collection of images titled "Inside Modern Chechnya" showing daily life in the semi-autonomous Russian region known for a centuries-­old tradition of defying Moscow’s rule. Shemetov focused on the area in and around the capital of Grozny. -- Lloyd Young ( 28 photos total)
Members of a Chechen dance group pose for photographers at a government-organized event marking Chechen language day in the center of the Chechen capital Grozny on April 25. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)     

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Diana Markosian, a Reportage Emerging Talent, is presenting work at Photo Center NW in Seattle on Thursday, May 9, at 6:30. Click here for more details.

Photo Center NW is pleased to host documentary photographer and writer Diana Markosian for a lecture focused on developing a personal visual style as a documentary photographer and photojournalist. Markosian’s reporting has taken her from Russia’s North Caucasus mountains, to the ancient Silk Road in Tajikistan and overland to the remote Wakhan Corridor in northeastern Afghanistan.

Caption: Seda Makhagieva, 15, wraps a pastel-colored head and neck covering in Chechnya in 2012. Makhagieva fought to wear the hijab - a sharp break from her family’s traditions. See more work from this series, “Goodbye my Chechnya,” on the Reportage Web site. (Photo by Diana Markosian)

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Maria Turchenkova

Despite the reduction of large-scale military operations 10 years ago in Chechnya, a guerrilla war waged by Islamic fundamentalists rages on, and has brought a striking level of violence and bloody insurgency to the neighboring Caucasus republic of Dagestan.

For decades, and in much of the world’s eyes, all the news coming from the North Caucasus seemed focused on the cataclysm in Chechnya. Now, with Grozny slowly emerging from decades of chaos, Dagestan – the largest, most heterogeneous and, today, the most violent republic in the North Caucasus region – is raising its international profile, but for all the wrong reasons.

With a population of about 3 million people, Dagestan — bordering Chechnya, with the Caspian Sea to the east and Georgia and Azerbaijan to the south — is comprised of more then 40 ethnic groups. Ethnic Russians make up roughly four and half percent of the republic’s total population, while political power is held mainly by the two largest groups: the Avar and Dargin, both of whom practice Sufism, or the region’s traditional brand of Islam. Recently, however, Salafism — a puritanical form of Islam practiced largely in Saudi Arabia — has begun to make inroads, further complicating the already tangled political and religious picture.

Split by seemingly intractable social and religious differences and with almost a half of its territory locked down under a special security regimen (CTO, or “counter-terrorist operation”), Dagestan’s populace endures martial law, rigid curfews and random searches enforced by the Russian military.

For most Russian citizens, meanwhile, the North Caucasus is peopled not by neighbors or citizens but by stereotypes. A mountain region, alien and dangerous, it is populated (in the Russian popular imagination) by suicide bombers and terrorists. Period.

The Jamaats—local Islamic societies—comprise the vast majority of active anti-Russian Islamist fighters in Dagestan. Numbering somewhere around 500, by best estimates, Jamaats manage to replace those killed in action with newly joined militants in a remarkably timely manner. The reason for this renewable source of fighters is, in fact, rather simple: namely, the fundamentalists find fertile ground to propagate their ideas in the region’s remote, mountainous villages — as well as via the Internet. As the Dagestan justice system is largely ruled by nepotism, Russian law and order doesn’t have real power and most people find it impossible to receive justice from local authorities. Jamaats’ leaders, meanwhile, claim to be the “legitimate authority of Dagestan” and are candid about their aim of establishing a “fair society” based on Shari’a law. As the years pass, more and more people convert to Salafism.

Dagestan’s society is still deeply split. The gap between the richest and the poorest is enormous — and, like everywhere else, is rapidly growing. Conservatives, including many traditional Muslims, who still feel an allegiance to Russia certainly do not accept the “Islamization” of their country and their culture, while many others simply vote with their passports — emigrating from the republic entirely. The men, women and children who stay behind must somehow find ways to endure in the midst of their country’s hidden war.

Maria Turchenkova is a freelance documentary photographer based in Moscow. She was recently selected to attend the 2013 World Press Joop Swart Masterclass.

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VICE Loves Magnum: Thomas Dworzak Takes Photos of Sad Marines and Taliban Poseurs

Magnum is probably the most famous photo agency in the world. Even if you haven’t heard of it, chances are you’re familiar with its images, be they Robert Capa’s coverage of the Spanish Civil War or Martin Parr’s very British holiday-scapes. Unlike most agencies, Magnum’s members are selected by the other photographers on the agency, so becoming a member is a pretty grueling process. As part of an ongoing partnership with Magnum, we will be profiling some of their photographers over the coming weeks.

Thomas Dworzak joined Magnum in 2000. His books often deal with war. His first, Taliban, was a found photo project which freaked out a lot of Americans who didn’t want to see what the Taliban looked like when they were fooling about. M*A*S*H IRAQ examined the daily lives of US Medevac teams in Iraq, and his latest book,Kavkuz, explored the impact years of brutal war had on the Caucasus region. Oddly enough, in spite of shooting in some of the most hellish conditions imaginable, he thinks Paris is the hardest place to work in.

VICE: You are often described as a “war photographer.” How do you feel about that?
Thomas Dworzak:
 It’s a label. What are you going to do about it? I’m not going to say I am not one, because I do go, and I used to go very often, to these conflict areas. But there are definitely people out there who are more into combat than me. There is a scale of how much involvement in war one has. And I’m not all the way up there.

How did working in Chechnya during the war there differ from your time in Iraq?
I think in Chechnya, I was more “on the ground.” I was hitchhiking around, trekking alone. You would talk to the fighters, you would spend time with them, and then if there was an attack you would arrive with them. It was all done in a very disorganized, one to one, personal way. I think Chechnya was very extreme as a war, compared to anything that I have seen since.

Extreme in what way?
Just the sheer amount of stuff I saw flying around. It was an atrocious war. Bosnia was very brutal of course, but there was not so much physical destruction, it was more killing and revenge on a very personal and human level, between neighbors or whatever. Chechnya was brutal in every way. The destruction of Grozny reached a level I had not seen until then, and haven’t seen since. I guess you might come across something like it now in Aleppo, for example. There was no accreditation when I was working there, no paperwork. I learned Russian so I could talk to the fighters. They were welcoming, so I spent time with them. Whereas in Iraq and Afghanistan I was embedded. You get your piece of paper and the military has to take care of you.

In what way did that affect your work? What’s your view on the embed format, do you think it worked well?
I think there is a strange kind of freedom in the structure of an embed. A lot of people have been bitching about it, going on about the embed being “the end of press freedom” and all that, but I don’t really think that’s true. I don’t know anything about Iraq really; I haven’t seen Iraq outside of the American point of view for so long now. But if I choose to cover the American angle, then an embed is not a bad way to do it. Because it is so institutionalized, you can actually move around and do a lot. You don’t have to beg, you don’t have to worry about anything. It’s a bit duller in that sense. You just have to follow the guys in front of you. And there are not that many decisions to be made. I find embeds pretty relaxing in that way.

Was your M•A•S•H• IRAQ project concluded over one single embed?
It was almost all embed work. I don’t want to over-emphasize the fact that some photos—just a few—weren’t taken in embeds as it’s meant to be an embed book. I don’t know, maybe it was two years or three years, something like that. The core of the work was done over a year, I did maybe five or six embeds with the medical units over that time.

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