In the 1970s, the correspondents of the capitalist countries’ communist newspapers came to our city almost every year. From the USA, Canada, Finland, Italy, Venezuela, but more often from France.
Sharing their impressions in blitz interviews with local journalists, everyone, as a rule, called the city wonderful, and visiting it was one of the brightest events in their lives. They paid attention to the difficult climatic conditions in which Norilsk grew up, the uniqueness of its factories and mines, cultural and children’s institutions.
They were front-line journalists, in the case of Roland Leroy – well-known leaders of well-known publications. Two years before his visit to the Far North, Leroy had become the head of L’Humanite. They wrote that the French communists’ newspaper got a new look under his leadership. Roland Leroy was friends with Louis Aragon, Elsa Triolet, Picasso and believed that one should appreciate the creator or scientist for what he created, and not just for his political activity.
Leroy headed the newspaper for 20 years and called these years the most fruitful in his life. His feedback about his trip to Norilsk has not been found. Only photographs of the visit have survived.
Last year, the journalist and the politician died. The farewell article in L’Humanite began with the words: “His image was surrounded by legends: he was like a hero of a novel. A quick mind, inner culture, austerity, shades of dandyism in the manner of dressing, the ability to be devoted to his work to the end – all this reminds books’ heroes”.
For other materials of our photo project, see the History spot tag.
Text: Varvara Sosnovskaya, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive