One day in the life of the boundless North. How to survive far from the city?

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How do regional authorities learn what is happening in remote settlements of Yamal? They find out the news from their colleagues in the fields and during their business trips across the district. Since the region is big and barely passable, all the official reports and figures are not able to show the realities of life in places where asphalt roads meet the endless tundra. This week Vesti Yamal and regional deputy Elena Pushkareva made a long journey to Schuchye village, which is 200 kilometers away from the district capital. The settlement is only accessible by special vehicles.

Schuchye village comprises one street and dozens of houses around. To reach the regional center you need to travel 100 kilometers off-road. There are very few people and quite a few problems. And problems here are the same as elsewhere. Most complaints of local residents relate to housing problems and unemployment.

Everybody has been waiting for the regional deputy. Reindeers are dying, there is no wood and petrol, people are running out of food. At least a dozen of families are in distress. Even bread is in short supply: 60 rubles per loaf is a surprising price for the elected nominee. Elena Pushkareva is eager to know whether the local authorities have been reported to about the situation. The residents just shrug their shoulders and say that it is too far. The district deputy and the reindeer herder of the Priuraskiy area tundra have difficulties in understanding each other. After all, they managed to find common ground.

Elena Pushkareva is taking down dictation of the names of nomads who are in distress at the moment. On her return to the regional capital, she is going to inform her colleagues from authorities about what is happening and ask the municipal head about how the problem is going to be solved. The next visitors also have some complaints. They ask to increase government allowance for nomads because two thousand rubles is very little even in the tundra. “Why not to increase allowance for tundra nomads? In particular, for those who need it, who have very few reindeers. If a man has many reindeers, it is no trouble, he can sell the meat and get his money, but people with few reindeers will not survive,” says Vasyli Laptander, a pensioner.

The regional government has already confirmed the compensatory amount for the year 2014, and it will not change. The budget does not provide extra money. The elected nominee advises those who struggle to look for a side job, for example, to start fishing. Black fish trade is being actively subsidized by the government. Tundra residents themselves have to be responsible for the future of their families. But this task is becoming more and more difficult from year to year. Even in the village there is no work. “People cannot find jobs anywhere. They are eager to work, but no jobs are available. Many people are working at school, but it is a single place to be hired at” – says Anatoly Taibery, representative of the municipality administration.

The Schuchye boarding school is the center of the villager life. Children from all around receive their preschool and primary education there. All the classrooms are warm, light and cozy. The school provides everything and even more to those who are eager to study. “Our children are curious: we have computer classes, they can freely go there, take a laptop and learn their subjects. The teachers are trying to follow all new educational standards,” says Elena Taibery, a teacher in Schuchye River boarding school.

The standards are left behind only in exceptional cases. This autumn the river shallowed so much that people were forced to leave their boats and went to Schuchye village on foot. The food, which was being delivered to the boarding school canteen by a local enterpriser, got stuck on its way. The  business relationships between the educational facility and its only supplier became more complicated. As a result, the cook from the local canteen was looking for a suitable alternative for the products of the children menu. “Children were not left hungry, we just could not adhere to the nutritional standards, but were giving them everything,” says Irina Egorova, the cook and store-keeper in Schuchye River boarding school.

Today the school menu offers not only chicken dishes. There are lots of vegetables, fruits, dairy products and eggs in the food store. However, how long will this diversity last? Complicated relationships with the supplier make it harder to provide hearty and balanced school lunches. The issue is under municipal authorities control and it will not reoccur, as officials from Municipal Educational Department assure. “We have arrived at the conclusion that there will be several suppliers. On Monday all the products will be delivered in accordance with the application,” reports Larisa Phillipova, a deputy head of the Priuralskiy area Educational Department.

36 children live and study at the primary boarding school in Schuchye village. The municipal administration has been considering the possibility of sending children to Beloyarsk. Therefore, they will be closer to the civilization, but further from their homes. Neither children, nor their parents agree on that. Schuchye village is their birthplace. One street with a dozen of houses around. Life where a satellite TV is the only guide to the other unknown world. It seems that in order to solve urgent problems of these people, a regional deputy does not have to come to the village, even the attention of local administration will be enough.   

Автор перевода: Ирина Синянская, Центр английского языка English Yamal (englishyamal.ru)                 

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