Note: This slideshow is published in conjunction with Anna Nemtsova's article, "The Sochi That We've Lost."
On Feb. 7, the 2014 Winter Olympics kicked off in Sochi, the subtropical resort town whose name has become synonymous with the ills of Putin's Russia -- from its poor record on LGBT rights to the unresolved ethnic and political tensions of recent history. Journalists arriving in the town ahead of the games were delighted to find (and tweet about) half-built hotel lobbies, economical two-toilet bathroom stalls, and trick doorknobs.
But when photographer Mikhail Mordasov traveled to Sochi, it was a rather different place he had in mind: one that symbolized blissful escape for generations of Russians, a subtropical paradise now reshaped by the march of history. His images overlap with the reminiscences of Democracy Lab columnist Anna Nemtsova, who describes a vanished, intimate Sochi that Olympic tourists may no longer be able to see. Mordasov's photos capture the complexity of Sochi through the view of those two live, work, and vacation there.
In the photo above, a woman enjoys a massage under a powerful shower.