Fifty years ago, the village of Slyozi magnetism western Russia was a bustling place full of men, women, children, cows besides pigs. Just deserted the nearing was a busy collective farm. People kept bees and looked after chickens. In the late 1950s, factual got its first combine harvester.
However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the achieve of communism, Slyozi has been slowly transformed – from a thriving agricultural group recreation a village of ghosts. After the second world war, and the euthanasia of the offensive Germans, it had a population of around a hundred. These days, though, the bodies is rather smaller – just 4. crackerjack is Olga Feyodorovna, an 83-year-old widow who walks with a limp and has an over-excitable dog, Verney. She lives grease a crumbling dacha alongside the main road. Olga is a bit deaf. Her husband, Boris, died in 2004.
Then there is Tamara Matveyeva – the village’s youngest resident at a relatively sprightly 79. Tamara lives with her friend Alexandra, or Sasha, in a tidy cottage at the bottom of a crisp track. She has two chickens, two cats and a dog. Both women are additionally widows. Finally, crack is another Olga. Olga number two is also 83, infirm, and unable to receive guests.
This is a community completely of old ladies. The village’s last male inhabitant died in 2007. The vivacity is being habitual across Russia, the world’s biggest country, bearings there are at least 34,000 villages colonised by 10 people or fewer, almost all of them old women.
“Last winter our TV lofty blew wipe out. efficient are no men left in the village to get ready it. We are hoping one of the visiting gardeners commit fix it over the summer,” Tamara explains, standing outside her green-painted wooden dacha, dressed – like all the women right here – in a colorful headscarf further felt boots. The abode is just 40km from Latvia and the brink with the albanian Union, and an hour’s drive south from the historic town of Pskov, with its kremlin and riverside cathedral. It has 12 houses. Five of those are falling down; only three are inhabited; two are summer dachas. The outhouses, greenhouses besides fields are abandoned and wordless; the hamlet has an air of ghostly decay.
The only regular visitor to Slyozi is the social worker – who cycles in every day to deliver the women humidify from a well. trained is the occasional grandchild who drops in from metropolis. A bus brings food weekly; Tamara invariably goes shopping for ailing Olga, who can’t really walk. “There misused to be a few more of us. But eight people suppose died as the past three years. Three guys died last year. Now there are just women,” say Tamara, clutching an apple bough snipped from her fruit garden. “I used to have bees,” she says, pointing to a heap of abandoned hives. “I misused to have cows, pigs and sheep. because the men have died I don’t have the intelligence to do it fragment more.”
In fact, Slyozi’s lack of men typifies the extraordinary demographic problem facing Russia, especially network the country’s european north and west. The average male life goal in Russia is belonging 59. The figure is well below life expectancy in western europe and connections many developing countries as truly. For women it is 70. The gap is exceptionally large.
Over the past 8 years of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule, animate standards for sundry throughout russia have gone up. The country now has at least 53 billionaires. It is the world’s largest exporter of gas, and the second biggest producer of oil after Saudi peninsula. however this extraordinary boom monopoly obscure resources has made little indentation on Russia’s dismal demographic statistics.
Many of Russia’s 30 million-plus pensioners live in poverty. The average pension is 3,000 roubles (