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The Russia Left Behind, by Ellen Barry, the New York Times
A journey through a heartland on the slow road to ruin.
As the state's hand recedes from the hinterlands, people are struggling with choices that belong to past centuries: to heat their homes with a wood stove, which must be fed by hand every three hours, or burn diesel fuel, which costs half a month's salary? When the road has so deteriorated that ambulances cannot reach their home, is it safe to stay? When their home can't be sold, can they leave?
Clad in rubber slippers, his forearms sprinkled with tattoos, Mr. Naperkovsky is the kind of plain-spoken man's man whom Russians would call a "muzhik." He had something he wanted to pass on to Mr. Putin, who has led Russia during 13 years of political stability and economic expansion.
"The people on the top do not know what is happening down here," he said. "They have their own world. They eat differently, they sleep on different sheets, they drive different cars. They don't know what is going on here. If I needed one word to describe it, I would say it is a swamp, a stagnant swamp. As it was, so it is. Nothing is changing."
MIKHAIL MORDASOV/AFP/Getty Images
Nights Out in a New Town, by Srinath Perur, Open
Travelling with the Indian sex tourist to Tashkent in search of ‘full enjoyment'
Jabir is defensive when I ask him how Uzbekistan became a destination for sex tourists. He largely holds the tourists responsible. He says he's interested in showing people around his country, but they only care for one thing. According to him there aren't even that many women involved in sex work. He says, ‘There are maybe around a hundred girls in Tashkent. Everyone comes here, fucks the same girls and goes back.' That sounds like a considerable understatement. There must be that number of sex workers from the former USSR in Delhi or Mumbai alone. The textbook explanation holds that the dissolution of the USSR created economic uncertainty in which many young women found it hard to support themselves, and ended up in different parts of the world as sex workers.
Why come all the way to Uzbekistan when it's easily possible to find women from the region in India? There are reasons of pragmatism, of course-there's no one who might recognize you here, and the country's relatively cheap. Beyond that, these four or five days are an opportunity to let oneself go. Here there are no responsibilities of family or work. The proscriptions of home are absent, so you can drink and smoke as much as you want. Everyone's a young man once again, giggling at adolescent jokes. There's the sex of course, but here it goes beyond simply servicing the libido. There is a jubilant revelling in sex and an air of constant bawdiness that can only come from the working out of things long pent-up. Here you can unburden yourself completely. You can enjoy.
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