Siberia on camera: a snapshot of life in the shadows of a hydroelectric power station

This city was built to become the Soviet industrial dream. What does it look like now?

8 November 2017

There are a lot of great cities on river banks — capitals, ports and castles. But Divnogorsk is not one of them. A small town with a fairy-tale name (in Russian it means “a town by the magic mountain”) and about 30,000 inhabitants, it faces the Krasnoyarsk Hydroelectric Station, which turns the mighty waters of the Yenisei River into energy for a giant aluminium plant. The village of Divnogorsk, the predecessor of the modern town, was a clerical settlement with manufacturing workshops. Under Soviet rule, it was turned into a working camp for orphans and young criminals and then, in the early 1960s, a group of talented engineers arrived to build the hydroelectric station. They were enthusiasts who made the Soviet industrial dream come true, but, as the dream came true, their lives remained in the shadow — in the shadow of the thick Siberian taiga and concrete walls of the dam. Their descendants today stroll among the artifacts of an epoch long gone, live in five-floor apartment blocks and tick the Communist party candidate’s name at election time.