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Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
In pictures: Siberian showcase's decline

Sickle sculpture (pic: Artyom Liss, BBCRussian.com)

Tynda, a town in eastern Siberia, was built in the 1970s. Designed to showcase a Soviet rail project, it was once rich. But its population has dwindled from 80,000 to 30,000.

Main street (pic: Artyom Liss, BBCRussian.com)

These apartment blocks on the main street are half empty. People are leaving because there is no work. Without money from Moscow, Tynda is not economically viable.

Old street scene

This picture from the local museum shows Tynda's main street in the 1970s. The tents were not heated and the temperature sometimes dropped to minus 40C.

Communist songs around the campfire

Campfires like these were often the only source of heat for hundreds of young Communist activists who came to Tynda, lured by propaganda and the promise of a free car.

Railway lines (pic: Artyom Liss, BBCRussian.com)

Construction of the Baikal-Amur railway, for which Tynda was meant to be a hub, ended in 1986. But Soviet hopes of great cargo volumes never materialised.

Rail carriage being used as home (pic: Artyom Liss, BBCRussian.com)

Now much of the vast Russian Far East is empty. Only 7m people live in an area twice the size of the EU. Some of the poorest are former labourers, living in old railway carriages.

Yevgeny (pic: Artyom Liss, BBCRussian.com)

Yevgeny lives in a converted railway carriage without heating or running water. He takes home $200 a month working as a security guard. A ticket to the nearest big city costs $100.

Korean logging factory (pic: Artyom Liss, BBCRussian.com)

Some 1,500 North Koreans work as loggers in the region. No-one is allowed to enter their isolated camps and they are strictly forbidden to speak to journalists.

Railway station (pic: Artyom Liss, BBCRussian.com)

Tynda's imposing but under-used railway station is a reminder of Soviet ambitions which never became a reality. (Words and photos: Artyom Liss)






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