Vladimir Gusinsky: “Whatever happens, I will never come back to Putin’s Russia.”
Jill Dorthey, chief of CNN Moscow bureau: “And why?”
VG: “Because of the war in Chechnya, poverty in the Far East, the takeover of the Russia’s media, the unresolved mystery of the Kursk and the return of the KGB.”

The world is oblivious to the crises that are sweeping across Russia. From financial distress to cannibalism; from AIDS to dioxins; from tuberculosis to nuclear chaos; from starvation to civil insurrection: these are only a few of the catastrophes that are inexorably taking hold of a country unable or unwilling to tackle basic problems. Putin is satisfied with the old Stalinist formula: use national pride as a shield against reality.


I wanted to make a report on these crises one year after Putin took up this shield. It seems more and more necessary to show the political and psychological context of hitherto isolated facts, to provide a photographic overview that reveals the chaos across a continent.

This body of photographs and text is conceptual, a purely personal work of deep thought, study, feeling and observation. And just like in Anton Chekhov’s journey across Russia in 1890 to bring light to the Benighted. By crossing Russia, I wanted to cross a year out of my life.

If you are going to present something difficult, it will be painful at times for those looking at it, but to show the truth you must be brutally honest and risk offending those unsuspecting.
Stanley Greene, 2001

Many thanks to: Daphne Angles, Heidi Bradner, Christian Caryl, Kathy Leacock Cohen, Fenêtre sur Cour, Stephane Duroy, Thomas Dworzak, Kristel Eerdekens, Jason Eskenazi, Liza Faktor, Green Cross, Sylvie Grumbach, Sarah Harbutt, Stephanie Heimann, Andrea Hoyer, Yuri Kozyrev, Svetlana Lissenkova, Kadir Van Lohuizen, Natalie Lopparelli, Paris Match, Médecins Sans Frontières, Sonia Mikich of ARD TV, The Moscow Times, Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, New York Times Moscow bureau, Colin Peck, Andreï Polikanov, Kathy Ryan, Anna Shpakova (who helps me survive Russia), Brooke Swafford, Time Magazine, Nikolay Vishnevsky, Vladimir Volkov, Vu agency, Jamie Wellford. 2e Bureau for all the years of support.

Jan Grarup

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