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Photo Essay: The Unworldly Photos of Industrial Waste Landscapes in Russia

At first, these surreal landscapes look like images of far-off planets. But they’re actually photos of sewage drainage channels, waste-water reservoirs and ash disposal sites. “The superficial beauty of these places conceals a horrendous threat to the environment,” said photographer Alexander Sukharev, who spent a few months travelling across Russia capturing these sites with his drone. 

The waters of a lake nearby the Siberian Generating Company Power plant in Novosibirsk are turquoise blue. The toxic lake in Siberia, nicknamed the Siberian Maldives has become a selfie hotspot for locals and tourists. The water, which is saturated with heavy metals and harmful substances can cause allergic reactions or even chemical burns if ingested or touched.

More than 20 years ago, an abandoned copper mine flooded close to Levikha village, in the Sverdlovsk region. The sulphuric acid turned a nearby river orange, burning the soil and trees, and killing all animals who lived there.

The waste treatment facilities in Sterlitamak. Authorities are using bacteria which feed on the waste, to reduce the environmental impact.

Liquid waste reservoir near the town of Zima.

In the Far East of Russia, close to China’s northern border, is the Khabarovsk region. The region is known for its copper, tin and gold mines, and this liquid waste reservoir on the Chita-Khabarovsk highway.

The ash dump of the Artyom CHP power plant in the Primorye region.

The world needs to move fast to make a meaningful difference in the fight against climate change. We all leave an impact on the planet, so we can all play a part in preventing climate change. Read more about our efforts to reduce our impact here. Shop our environmental propaganda posters below or explore the collection here.

The Decoration of Our Homeland is in Your Hands | Russia | 1980£100.00
Flora | Russia | 1990£600.00
Life Threatening | Lithuania | 1983£450.00
List of all posters

Further Reading

architecture

A Top 10 Guide to Armenia’s Best Brutalist & Modernist Buildings

With its concrete clover windows and ornately carved scenes in red stone, the National University of Architecture and Construction is one of the most striking examples of Brutalist architecture in Yerevan. The inside is just as beautiful, although if you wander aimlessly through the halls taking photos, the security guards will come and politely escort you off the premises.

architecture

Knocking on Heaven's Door: Armenia's Abandoned Orgov Telescope

Two hours by car from Yerevan, nestled amongst grazing cattle and the farmers who tend to them, is the abandoned remains of a telescope which once searched for signs of life beyond our world. Space exploration was initially a practical concern: rocket technology solved the problem of sending huge nuclear payloads over long distances. But the Space Race soon evolved into something of much greater symbolic significance.

architecture

Armenia’s Modernist Masterpiece: Lake Sevan Writers Retreat

In the 1930s, the Writers’ Union of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic commissioned a writer's retreat to be built on Sevan Island. Around the time that the retreat first opened to writers, Sevan Island was in the middle of a dramatic transformation. The Soviet state was diverting water from Lake Sevan to irrigate the Ararat plain and generate hydroelectric power. Over the next two decades, the lake’s water level fell by around 20 metres, and Sevan Island became a peninsula.

art

Bulldozer Exhibition: The Degenerate Art of the USSR

On September 15, 1974, a group of twenty Soviet nonconformist artists gathered in a vacant lot in an urban forest on the outskirts of Moscow. But the authorities were ready. Almost immediately, more than 100 policemen armed with batons, three bulldozers, and a truck with a water cannon began to break up the exhibition. It was mayhem. Artists desperately tried to save their artworks as they were chased by authorities.

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