Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2009 - Cows on the way to Krasni Vostok. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2009 - A tribute to deceased soldiers in the school of Krasni Vostok. The school has his own war museum. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2009 - Children are preparing a huge harvest celebration. The celebration will be held in the canteen of the school of Krasni Vostok. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2009 - Children are preparing a huge harvest celebration. The celebration will be held in the canteen of the school of Krasni Vostok. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2010 - Head of the lamb which was thrown on one of the sheds near the house of Stella and Georgi. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2010 - Sisters Viktoria (24) and Veronika (22) in the bedroom where they grew up in Krasny Vostok. After finishing primary school they both moved to Kislavodsk, where they still live and work. Viktoria as a economist and Veronika as a nurse in a vision clinic. They only come to Krasny Vostok to visit their parents and get some rest. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2010 - Sisters Viktoria (24) and Veronika (22) in the bedroom where they grew up in Krasny Vostok. After finishing primary school they both moved to Kislavodsk, where they still live and work. Viktoria as a economist and Veronika as a nurse in a vision clinic. They only come to Krasny Vostok to visit their parents and get some rest. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2010 - Photo Album of Boris Zulemanovich Bezhanov from the time he was studying in Sukhumi. Renate is a friend from Germany who once visited Sukhumi. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2010 - Photo Album of Boris Zulemanovich Bezhanov from the time he was studying in Sukhumi. Renate is a friend from Germany who once visited Sukhumi. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2010 - Retired police man Husey Aibasov (55) standing besides his car. © ROB HORNSTRA
Krasny Vostok, RUSSIA, 2010 - Retired police man Husey Aibasov (55) standing besides his car. © ROB HORNSTRA

Rob Hornstra & Arnold van BruggenThe Sochi Project:
On the other side of the mountains

We started The Sochi Project in 2009. Over the course of five years we want to map out the extensive region around the Russian resort Sochi. This is where the Olympic Winter Games will be held in 2014. A controversial choice, because this subtropical coastal area still lacks virtually any kind of facilities and infrastructure. At $33 billion, these are set to become the most expensive Olympic Games ever. The Games are being organised in Russia's most unstable region. A few hundred kilometres away are the breakaway republics Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. And just a few kilometres away is Abkhazia, officially a part of Georgia but recognised in 2008 for the first time by Russia and three other countries as independent. The Games themselves, but above all the surrounding area, offer a lifetime’s worth of writing material. That’s how we started The Sochi Project. And that's also how we ended up in Krasny Vostok : a village with one foot in the 19th century, still partially without gas and electricity; a village we stumbled across by chance in our search for stories.

 

Barely 200 kilometres from Sochi, but a world away. Except perhaps for falling for the name – Krasny Vostok literally means ‘The Red East’ – there is no reason to portray this village; and that's why we did. A village like so many in Russia. Where the population is dwindling; where industry and activity are disappearing; where a handful of people are attempting to prevent the decline; where Moscow’s politics trickle through slowly; where every day is a struggle to keep the village hanging on. Only when you are familiar with this kind of village, we believe, can you get to know this region better.

 

The Caucasus is more than just conflict and refugees, fundamentalist Islam or billion dollar Games. It is first and foremost a beautiful region, home to several million people trying to make the best of life. In Georgia, Abkhazia, Russia and here in Krasny Vostok, in obscure Karachay-Cherkessia.

 

© Rob Hornstra & Arnold van Bruggen 2010