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Cold carriage: for the inhabitants of Evenkia, an area one and a half times the size of France straddling the Arctic Circle in northern Russia, winter is the only time their remote region is accessible by land via an ice road known as the zimnik.

Russian fuel tankers make their way along the zimnik to the villages of Cherenda and Eseiy; for reasons of safety, trucks often travel in convoys of three vehicles. During the cold season, about 1,500 tonnes of fuel diesel, petrol and jet fuel is brought to Chirinda and Eseiy along 650 kilometres of the zimnik: a wolf shot by a hunter on Lake Diupkun. According to the government, the area is overrun with wolves, so hunters get paid for each animal they shoot. They can also use or sell the fur

A huge K700 tractor--called Kirovs by the locals--drags a caterpillar track along the zimnik. Ordinary caterpillar tracks with little modification are used as road-levelling tools, and the K700s are the principal means of transportation for those working on the zimnik; the remains of a burned down block of fiats in Tufa, the capital of Evenkia, that caught fire twice. The extinguishing liquid used by the firefighters has frozen on the remains. Fires caused by alcohol-related accidents are common in the region

Cherenda village, which lies in northern Evenkia, above the Arctic Circle, is home to around 150 people. With the nearest tarmac road 1,000 kilometres away, it's only accessible by helicopter or by zimnik during the winter: Piotr Sofjenikov and Vladirnir Osogotok recline after a day's hunting. Many hunters use the zimnik to gain access to herds of reindeer that migrate through the region. They also use it to transport the fur from the legs--the most valuable part of the animal which can sell for around 8 [pounds sterling]

A herd of reindeer runs across the frozen surface of Lake Diupkun. The wild reindeer population numbers around one million, and for the moment, it's quite stable. Each animal produces between 50 and 70 kilograms of meat, as well as the valuable fur; a juvenile taimen, or Eurasian giant trout, caught by Oleg Timofejevich on Lake Diupkun. It took Oleg four hours to cut three holes in the lake's two-metre-thick ice, after which he set nets to catch the fish. The taimen is the world's largest salmon

An aerial view of the Putorana Plateau, which covers a large part of Evenkia, shows an expanse of forest through which the zimnik travels on its way to Eseiy Although putorana means 'flat like a table' in the local language, the plateau is in fact divided into hundreds of valleys engraved by small streams that flow at different times of the year. To the hunters, this landscape characterised by thousands of hissing brooks is known as vesenije volosatyje gory, 'the hairy mountains of spring'

Hunter Oleg Timofejevich and his team eat their dinner in a small cabin about 100 kilometres from Cherenda, which is accessible only by snowmobile or helicopter; passengers inside one of the eight MI 8 helicopters that ferry people and various goods between Evenkia's remote villages. These aircraft, which can carry up to 20 people, are run on fuel that's carried to depots in Evenkia by zimnik. With no advanced navigation system, they can only operate during the day and in good weather

Hunter Konstantin Maimaga and his partner return to Cherenda via the zimnik. The bodies of eight reindeer, already skinned, are draped across their sledge ready to be sold, along with a 200-litre barrel of fuel; the light trail of a Russian truck carrying cargo along the zimnik. Winter provides freedom for the inhabitants of northern Evenkia when the snow melts, the zimnik disappears, and the villagers are once again isolated among the reindeer, wolves and bears that populate the forests
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Title Annotation:PHOTOSTORY: Siberian ice road
Comment:Cold carriage: for the inhabitants of Evenkia, an area one and a half times the size of France straddling the Arctic Circle in northern Russia, winter is the only time their remote region is accessible by land via an ice road known as the zimnik.(PHOTOSTORY: Siberian ice road)
Author:Vasiliauskas, Zilvinas; Tilmantaite, Berta; Dagys, Giedrius
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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