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The Village At The End Of The Earth

Chukotka is the far northeastern corner of Russia, opposite Alaska. Long winters, extreme cold, and a lack of career prospects have driven many locals away. But there are also immigrants here, mostly from Central Asia, attracted by high wages and long vacations. Photographer Janyl Jusupjan traveled to the remote village of Billings, on the Arctic Ocean, to meet Ibrahim from Uzbekistan.

Billings has around 100 inhabitants. It clings to a peninsula on the northeastern tip of Asia, buffeted by icy winds from the Arctic Ocean.
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Billings has around 100 inhabitants. It clings to a peninsula on the northeastern tip of Asia, buffeted by icy winds from the Arctic Ocean.

We arrive by helicopter. Situated some 400 kilometers from the district center Pevek, Billings is accessible only by helicopter in summer and a temporary snow road in winter.
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We arrive by helicopter. Situated some 400 kilometers from the district center Pevek, Billings is accessible only by helicopter in summer and a temporary snow road in winter.

The main street. The village was renamed from Valkyran, which means "dugout made from a whale’s fang," to Billings after Iosif Billings, an 18th-century Anglo-Russian explorer.
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The main street. The village was renamed from Valkyran, which means "dugout made from a whale’s fang," to Billings after Iosif Billings, an 18th-century Anglo-Russian explorer.

Ibrahim, a migrant worker from Uzbekistan. He worked six months as a metal worker.
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Ibrahim, a migrant worker from Uzbekistan. He worked six months as a metal worker.

Home comforts. This is Ibrahim's table in the room he shared with a Kyrgyz migrant worker. He said he was saving money for the wedding of his daughter, who can be seen in the photograph.
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Home comforts. This is Ibrahim's table in the room he shared with a Kyrgyz migrant worker. He said he was saving money for the wedding of his daughter, who can be seen in the photograph.

In the kitchen. Ibrahim cooked plov, a Central Asian rice meal, for migrant workers at the hostel.  
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In the kitchen. Ibrahim cooked plov, a Central Asian rice meal, for migrant workers at the hostel.

 

The village still relies on a Soviet-era heating system. The average annual temperature is minus 13 degrees Celsius. Even in midsummer the temperature reaches a maximum of 5 degrees Celsius.
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The village still relies on a Soviet-era heating system. The average annual temperature is minus 13 degrees Celsius. Even in midsummer the temperature reaches a maximum of 5 degrees Celsius.

The village shop. There is little choice and prices are high. Dried apricots and raisins from Central Asia are the only fruit. Potatoes delivered by ship from Alaska may cost several times less than potatoes delivered by air from mainland Russia.
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The village shop. There is little choice and prices are high. Dried apricots and raisins from Central Asia are the only fruit. Potatoes delivered by ship from Alaska may cost several times less than potatoes delivered by air from mainland Russia.

The cultural center, a venue for occasional concerts or film screenings. There's also a one-room museum with whale bones.
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The cultural center, a venue for occasional concerts or film screenings. There's also a one-room museum with whale bones.

A house where native Chukcha people live.
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A house where native Chukcha people live.

Inside the house, conditions are basic. Some villagers herd reindeer, almost everyone fishes for salmon and hunts for walrus and seals.
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Inside the house, conditions are basic. Some villagers herd reindeer, almost everyone fishes for salmon and hunts for walrus and seals.

The man with the gun is the local policeman, responding to a sighting of a polar bear. If he finds it, he must shoot in the air to scare it away.
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The man with the gun is the local policeman, responding to a sighting of a polar bear. If he finds it, he must shoot in the air to scare it away.

Waiting for the helicopter. The girl needs to visit the doctor in Pevek.
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Waiting for the helicopter. The girl needs to visit the doctor in Pevek.

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