After the month I spent with the reindeer herder on the Kanin peninsula in summer (I will give an overview in the next post), my plan was to visit them at their winter pastures in the Arkhangelsk region some hundreds kilometres further south of Kanin.
I thought I could visit the 7th brigade of the reindeer cooperative “Obshina Kanin” and then travel up to the north to the village of Nes’ to interview some elders there. But I need a border zone permit from the border guard in Arkhangelsk to be allowed to enter the territory next to the cost and the villages there including Nes’. To get one takes weeks and weeks. I got one in summer, but it took also a long time. Hopefully I’ll get the permit in April, when I’m returning to the region.
After staying in Arkhangelsk for almost a week waiting the permit I went to the big village (an former small town) of Pinega to visit at least the reindeer herders staying outside the border zone.
I visited the nice local museum here in Pinega and was surprised to learn how diverse influences shaped the local history. A lot of newcomers came against their will to Pinega: banished left wing revolutionaries, poets, intellectuals searching for unspoiled Russian folk life, American soldiers during the the civil war, banned Ukrainian peasants accused of being too wealthy and than the long row of “enemies of the people”: the opposition within the Russian left, the party members that were decimated, the suspicious nations like the Germans, even the families of executed German communists – became either settlers in special villages or inmates in the Gulag camps on the river Kuloi.
From the abolishment of the Gulag under Khrushchev on the town seem to have shrunk in importance and only a few remaining trader’s houses witness the pre-Soviet wealth.