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Scenes from Russia

A night view of the Caucasus Mountains and Mzymta valley

Since 2009, Mikhail Mordasov has been travelling a lot over the European part of Russia. As a documentary photographer he explores both huge wealthy cities and distant poor villages to create the patchwork of daily russian life, as in the case of the city of Sochi.

“Sochi will never be as it was. Hot, light-hearted city rich in trees and bushes is now floating in construction dust. Nothing but monstrous high-risers can grow on Black Sea resort land fattened with capital flood. The city is gasping for air — its old crooked streets have been blocked with luxury cars and new straight highways — with the construction machinery. Sochi is a place of sharp and deep changes. Always people feel sad for the past, whatever changes were not.”

A boy is hiding from a big wave on the Black Sea embankment during a storm in Sochi
Fisht Stadium, an Olympic venue that will host the opening and closing ceremonies. There is preserved part of an old cemetery in the center of Olympic Park with graves of local people, Muslims and Russian old believers. Relatives visit the graves of their family members on the eve of Radonitsa, a traditional day of commemoration of departed. To get to the cemetery, visitors have to obtain a special pass to the secured territory. It was not difficult for locals to obtain the permits on that special day
Sochi tourists warm up in a luxurious sauna complex called British Banya. The Russian State granted its people ten days off in early January. Life has halted, a man is at his own disposal and is suspended in the vacuum of idleness

Born in 1982, Mikhail is a photographer, producer and film director who lives between Moscow and Sochi, Russia. In the last years, he devoted much attention to long-term photo stories like Silence Games, Sochi before the Olympic games, 2013, Island Crimea, Crimea after annexation by Russia, 2014, The Spine of Russia book, in collaboration with Paul E. Richardson, a vivid portrait of modern Russian life, including over 40 environmental portraits of “heroes”, each of whom was asked the timely question: “Do you consider yourself a patriot, and if so, of what and why?, 2015, and Resilience: Life Stories of Centenarians Born in the Year of Revolution, book and film about some of the children born in 1917, 100 years later, and their remarkable life stories, in collaboration with Paul E. Richardson and Nadya Grebennikova, 2017.

Mikhail cooperated with dozens local and international news agencies, magazines and newspapers such as Reuters, AFP or The New York Times, as staff or stringer photographer. In 2014, he founded Everyday Russia account on Instagram. A place where every photographer shows one russian region and its inhabitants. The contributors are free to express themselves, and describe russian daily life without censorship and stereotypes.

Marina Kozlova: Jurist, single mother, mother of Lev and Marta (Moscow)
Mother and her child in refugees camp not far from Simferopol, the capital of Crimea. They are waiting the flight to Russia. According the United Nations Organization report more than 700,000 refugees went from Ukraine to Russia
The most famous and the biggest in Post-Soviet territory children camp ‘Artek’, Gurzuf settlement, Crimea. Teens rehearse the closing ceremony in the end of vacations. Denis Martianov, 16 years old from Yalta, Valeria Sluzhevskaya, 17 years old from Moscow, Evgeniy Shtein, 17 years old from Chita (from left to right) look to leader during the dress rehearsal of closing ceremony
Schoolgirl takes guard duty near the Eternal flame (Crimea)
A girl enjoys the coolness after she and other children are doused with sea water from a search and rescue boat, during the
Navy Day in Sevastopol, Crimea
Mother and son Crimean Karaites, or Karaims, Simferopol. Karaims are aboriginal population of Crimea. It’s very small ethnic group, there are about 1000 karaims living in Crimea now. Most of them don’t speak their native language and don’t practice their ancient religion
Islyam’s room: Abdureshit Jepparov, a Crimean Tatar activist, talks about his kidnapped son Islyam and nephew Djevdet Islyamov at his house outside the town Belogorsk. Several people have been kidnapped or gone missing after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine
Refugees from Odessa, Ukraine: Igor Tkachenko leaved Ukraine with his family
Muslims are praying on a balcony of Babylon restaurant on the day of Eid al-Adha. Most of the Muslims are workers from Central Asia who came to Sochi to build up the Olympic constructions. There are around 100000 workers, some of them migrants
A patient takes a mineral bath in Sochi at a place called Matsesta, the largest medical and balneal resort of Russia. Matsesta was established in 1902 on the base of healing hydro
Tourists admire the landscape in the area of 33 waterfalls near the city of Sochi. There are less tourists visiting Sochi for the last two years because of the huge constructions of the Olympic games
A woman takes a sun bath as men fish on a lake outside the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on August 7, 2011
Sochi Tissot-box Grove is a truly enchanted place, unique wildlife museum with many relict plants. Sochisight city Tisza-box Grove occupies over 280 thousand hectares. The Grove’s atmosphere and beauty fascinate visitors – among its ancient trees you feel, as if you landed in a quiet era, free of human civilization, of all its hustle and bustle. Some evergreen box trees (Buxus sempervirens) and giant yew trees have lived for more than 700 years. Yew species seem slightly rotten, their dense trunks turn in dark red colors. Even on a sunny day Tisza-samšitovoj Grove glows in dark green mysterious light
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