Trip to Norilsk was worth working for years in Soviet Union

Trip to Norilsk was worth working for years in Soviet Union

September 18, 2023

In March 1976, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s press department organized a trip to Norilsk for 27 journalists from ten countries.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. For five days, the guests were driven along an already established route: the Medvezhiy Roochey mine, the Copper plant, Talnah, construction sites, an experimental kindergarten, shops.

The guests met with Norilsk residents – on the streets and at workplaces, in an excavator cabin or a meeting room of the city council executive committee. Meetings were held with the city party organization, the Norilsk combine leaders, builders, geologists, and polar medicine specialists.

Journalists asked many questions. These were their first impressions.

Laurencia Duce from the Romanian newspaper Scînteia:

“This is my first time in Norilsk and I’m amazed. I thought that this city was lost somewhere in the North. But all of us, not just me, were impressed by the lighting of the city. There are a lot of people on the streets. It’s very nice when you see kids wrapped in fur coats. These ‘cubs’ eat apples…”

Jerzy Rakowski from the Polish newspaper Sztandar Młodych:

“What interested you most in Norilsk? This is the most normal life. North, snow, frost, wind, but it seems that people in their daily life and work don’t worry about this. In Norilsk, shops, restaurants, and a hotel are perhaps better than in other cities. And this impression is another argument that life in the 70s no longer depends on parallels and meridians, on the distance to Moscow.

Good supply. In stores there are televisions, refrigerators, radios. We get used to such things today, we need them. But we live not only by things. There is a wonderful Palace of Culture, a theater, and a cinema here. What is shown in the cinema here is watched today by residents of both Moscow and Warsaw.

People live well here and earn good money too. But difficulties also have to be shown. In this sense, the example of kindergarten was very expressive for me. My little daughter is three and a half years old, she goes to kindergarten in Moscow. I can now compare. In Warsaw, if the frost is 15 degrees, children no longer go to kindergarten. This is considered hazardous to health. In Moscow, minus 25 – children go to kindergarten. But since my daughter was in the first group, among the smallest, they were not taken out for a walk: the frost was too severe for children. But we were told here in kindergarten that Norilsk children are taken out for walks when it’s 40 degrees below zero. This is interesting.

On my trips around the Soviet Union there are places that I call ordinary. And there are places that can be called a golden fund. I will never forget them. A trip to Norilsk was an opportunity for which it was worth working in the Soviet Union for several years. I consider this trip one of the most unique”.

Magsaryn Choizhil, representing the radio and television of Mongolia and the national agency Monchame:

“When I was little, Santa Claus always appeared on New Year’s Day. As a rule, he said: “I came from the distant Arctic ocean, across the tundra, through the Arctic Circle”. At school I learned that there is the city of Norilsk in the North. Here I saw the mines and met the workers. We are building the Erdenet copper-molybdenum enrichment plant in Mongolia. Soviet specialists are helping to build it. This is where I see our future. Today’s Norilsk is the tomorrow of our Erdenet.

In general, I felt at home in Norilsk. Maybe because it was very pleasant for me to drink Norilsk water. I’ll try to explain: the Yenisey river has its origins in the Sayan mountains, on the border of the Soviet Union and Mongolia. These mountains do not separate us – they connect us. Two rivers flow into the Yenisey from Mongolia, and this water goes to the Arctic ocean. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, in Mongolia there is a large river, the Selenga, which flows into Baikal. The Angara, which fled to the Yenisey and also brought Selenga water with it, originates from Baikal. This is living water. We, so to speak, are singing a song by the same river”.

In the History Spot’s photo project, we told about the famous polar pilot Mikhail Vodopyanov’s impressions on Norilsk.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

September 18, 2023

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