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Outside Baikonur -- A Tough Life

Life beyond the concrete wall separating the Russian-run city of Baikonur and the neighboring Kazakh towns of Toretam and Akay is difficult. Locals complain about environmental problems and growing unemployment. An Azattyq correspondent visited Kazakh villages around Baikonur (formerly known as Leninsk), a Kazakh town administered by officials from Russia. (23 PHOTOS)

Akay residents jumping over the concrete wall to get into Baikonur. In this illegal way people avoid the long lines and bureaucracy needed to get a special entry pass. The Russian administration fines people caught going over the wall.
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Akay residents jumping over the concrete wall to get into Baikonur. In this illegal way people avoid the long lines and bureaucracy needed to get a special entry pass. The Russian administration fines people caught going over the wall.

A checkpoint at the entrance to Baikonur. The line of cars is sometimes several kilometers long.
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A checkpoint at the entrance to Baikonur. The line of cars is sometimes several kilometers long.

Camels outside the wall surrounding Baikonur city as viewed from the village of Akay.
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Camels outside the wall surrounding Baikonur city as viewed from the village of Akay.

A bus stop in Akay village
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A bus stop in Akay village

A new row of houses with no electricity or running water.
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A new row of houses with no electricity or running water.

A Baikonur monument in the village of Akay.
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A Baikonur monument in the village of Akay.

A street in Akay
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A street in Akay

The Akay secondary school
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The Akay secondary school

A street named after a local World War II hero in Akay.
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A street named after a local World War II hero in Akay.

Entering Toretam, a Kazakh-run town next to Baikonur.
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Entering Toretam, a Kazakh-run town next to Baikonur.

A monument to astronauts erected at the entrance of Baikonur city.
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A monument to astronauts erected at the entrance of Baikonur city.

A billboard in Toretam showing the Kazakh and Russian presidents shaking hands reads: "Strategic Partnership."
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A billboard in Toretam showing the Kazakh and Russian presidents shaking hands reads: "Strategic Partnership."

A house in central Toretam
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A house in central Toretam

At the Toretam railway station
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At the Toretam railway station

The Russian ruble is also in use at Toretam's central market.
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The Russian ruble is also in use at Toretam's central market.

A new mosque in Toretam
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A new mosque in Toretam

Toretam's central street
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Toretam's central street

The central market in Toretam
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The central market in Toretam

Railway and air-ticket offices in Toretam
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Railway and air-ticket offices in Toretam

The Toretam-Aktobe railway
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The Toretam-Aktobe railway

A Soviet-era block of flats in Toretam. The central heating system has not worked for a long time -- people get their water from outside the town and use stoves to heat their apartments.
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A Soviet-era block of flats in Toretam. The central heating system has not worked for a long time -- people get their water from outside the town and use stoves to heat their apartments.

The Toretam Town Council building
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The Toretam Town Council building

A billbord at the Toretam bus station says: "Kazakhstan-2050 Strategy: A New Political Vector For The New Kazakhstan."
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A billbord at the Toretam bus station says: "Kazakhstan-2050 Strategy: A New Political Vector For The New Kazakhstan."

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