Finns’ arrival in 1970s brought real revolution into Norilsk people mentality
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Finns’ arrival in 1970s brought real revolution into Norilsk people mentality

September 07, 2021

The world from which the cheerful and carefree Finns came to industrial Norilsk seemed so attractive that everyone wanted to pinch off a piece of it.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In 1980, two new buildings on Talnahskaya street – housed specialists from Finland who came to supervise the installation of technological equipment at Nadezhda metallurgical plant.

The arrival of the Finnish builders made a whole revolution in the mentality and worldview of the Norilsk people. For the first time, citizens of a capitalist country walked freely on the streets of the forbidden Norilsk, to where no one could buy air tickets if he had no Norilsk registration.

A gymnasium opened nearby, where only Finns were allowed. And although its name BOKMO stood for ‘a block for servicing of youth hostels complex’, many residents considered it to be the Finnish word for ‘gym’.

On the other side of the street, in the Kavkaz restaurant, a dining room was opened for the Finns. True, the guests were unpretentious in food, they did not require any special delicacies, so the cookers did not change the menu specifically for the Finns. Moreover, the foreigners preferred having meals at home. But they sat in the bar all the time: in Finland there was a dry law, while in our restaurants – everyone could drink fill. And it happened that the ‘tired’ foreigners were often gathered around the restaurant in the snowdrifts.

It was easy to distinguish foreign guests on our streets from Norilsk residents: they wore unprecedented bright down jackets, while ours considered sheepskin coats to be the most fashionable clothes.

Norilsk residents were afraid of Finnish specialists, like of newcomers from a hostile world, but they were still curious about them. Finnish metallurgists turned out to be a real exotic for Norilsk. The world from which the cheerful and carefree Finns came to industrial Norilsk seemed so attractive that everyone wanted to pinch off at least a piece of it.

Sometimes it looked pretty wild. For example, policemen were constantly on duty near the garbage cans next to the Finnish hotel: the neighboring teenagers, forgetting about the honor and pride of a Soviet citizen, by hook or by crook made their way into the ‘Finnish garbage dump’ to find there an illustrated magazine, a can of coca-cola or a gum wrapper – the oddities for Soviet people at that time.

In the last issue of the History spot photo project, we talked about the fact that the Norilsk restaurant Taimyr took a prize at VDNKh in 1969: Norilsk residents conquered Moscow with northern cuisine and polar exoticism.

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Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

September 07, 2021

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