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Blog on the edge of the world

The author of the Telegram channel from Bilibino tells the country about real life in the North

For two years, Dmitry Fedorov, an enthusiast blogger from the Chukotka city of Bilibino, has been conducting a popular telegram channel dedicated to the Russian North - “At the Extreme Point of Being”. During this time, more than three thousand people subscribed to the channel, whom the author of the channel introduces the life of northerners in Russia, leading him from the most expensive city in the country, where good internet is still considered a luxury. Corr. EastRussia learned how a blogger managed to create a well-known information public with unique content while seriously limiting the Internet resource.

Blog on the edge of the world
Photo: provided by Dmitry Fedorov

To Chukotka from the Volga region

Dmitry Fedorov came to Bilibino ten years ago from the Republic of Mari El. There he graduated from a pedagogical institute, served in the army. After demobilization, he returned home, but it was difficult to find a job with a good salary in the republic. My sister helped out, having left the year before in Bilibino and got a job as an English teacher. True, Fedorov did not work by profession, but got a job as a security guard at the Karalveyem gold and silver deposit.

“After home, it was a little difficult to adapt to dry air and poor internet. Then it was quite expensive and irregular, so it was possible to read the news only in snatches. Then 3G appeared in the city and it became easier to search for information on the network, ”recalls Dmitry.

Now in Bilibin there are all the operators of the Big Three, however, to constantly be in touch, residents of the city use at least two SIM cards of each of them. But if for the residents of the rest of Russia the concept of unlimited Internet for a small monthly fee has become familiar, then in the most expensive city in the country for ten gigabytes of traffic per month you will have to pay 900 rubles. And for voice communication you need to use a SIM card of another operator. Moreover, communication may be absent in some areas of the city and beyond.

Telegram instead of WhatsApp

The work assumed the availability of free time, which Dmitry decided to spend on unifying on a single platform all the information found on the Russian North. Initially, Dmitry led a news group on WhatsApp, but the messenger did not allow creating large publics, limiting their composition to 256 participants, there were no such restrictions in Telegram. Over two years, 3,2 thousand subscribers joined the project, many of whom live in Chukotka and read public in the conditions of poor Internet. The public has subscribers from Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, Samara, and the Kamchatka Territory.

One of the components of the public was the photos of the famous regional photographer Konstantin Lemeshev, who traveled all over Chukotka and agreed to donate part of his archive for non-commercial use. In his collection there are rare photographs of sea-hunters and residents of remote villages in national costumes. Dmitry Fedorov also talks about polar bears, which in recent years have dramatically changed migration routes. So, one little bear recently wandered in the vicinity of Anadyr, which caused a commotion in the city.

Against myths

Despite the fact that Chukotka is gradually becoming more open in the information space, many myths are circulating about life in the region today. Residents of the mainland (the inhabitants of Chukotka due to inaccessibility developed an island mentality) are often sure that in this region there are high salaries, and people constantly have the opportunity to see deer and the northern lights. One of the tasks of a blogger is to debunk such myths and explain how they formed.

“The fact that you can earn a lot in Chukotka is true, but for this you will have to work hard. For example, I have two jobs, in Bilibin people who want to achieve something are always busy with something, moreover, there are all the opportunities for this in view of the low level of competition. But there are people who are constantly dissatisfied with something, but at the same time do not want to change their lifestyle. There is a good saying about the North, which accepts or does not accept people, ”Dmitry is sure.

But at the same time, some of the most popular posts of the public are devoted to Bilibino prices, which surprise even residents of Anadyr. So, one kg of tomatoes, depending on the season, can cost 500-600 rubles, and a dozen eggs - 330 rubles. The cost of some products is subsidized by the state, for example, apples in Bilibin can be found for 200 rubles. The blogger is trying to explain to readers from other regions how the price of a particular product can add up and why the cost of products brought in via a winter road in a container differs sharply from those delivered by plane.

The author also talks about expired products - a problem for all of Chukotka. In some Bilibin stores there are even separate shelves with an overdue period for which the price is reduced. But there are also retail outlets in which customers are not warned of late purchases, and the shelf life of the goods could have ended two years ago.

Another hot topic is flights. There is no direct flight from Keperveyem (Bilibin Airport) to Moscow, and Bilibin residents prefer to get to large land with a transfer in Magadan. Tickets for a family of four in both directions can cost 500 thousand rubles. True, the employer pays them once every two years, so many Bilibino residents are selected on the mainland with this frequency. Dmitry is also closely following the news about one of the largest gold and copper deposits in the world - Baimskoye. Its quick development should provide jobs to residents of the area.

Course on Ethnography

Over time, many posts on ethnographic topics began to appear in the channel’s feed. Fedorov is subscribed to the page of the Russian State Museum of the Arctic and Antarctica in VKontakte, reads the works of the well-known ethnographer and researcher of the life of the Chukchi Vladimir Tan-Bogoraz.

“I became interested in ethnography, I read a lot about the original culture of the Chukchi. Instead of photographed photos of the northern lights, I’m interested in publishing interesting facts about the indigenous people of the north and conducting polls among readers of the public. I would like to fulfill a small educational function for subscribers, ”the author of the telegram channel notes.

According to Dmitry Fedorov, the inhabitants of the North are responsive, and the Chukchi, who live in Bilibin, always come to the aid of residents of national villages who come to the city. Dmitry says that an indigenous woman lives in the city, who always helps out visitors, often borrowing money from him, realizing that he will not be returned. Often in the public appear publications about closed workers' villages.

“Despite the fact that you cannot meet deer and reindeer teams in the city, I managed to look at them. Many reindeer herders live in the villages of Anyuysk and Ostrovnoye. Of course, I would like to receive more information from national villages, so in resolving this issue I hope for my subscribers, some of whom live in villages, ”adds Fedorov.

Dmitry notes that he does not plan to leave Chukotka. Now he is interested in making a channel about the North, overcoming numerous obstacles with expensive and not always high-quality Internet, lack of communication, verification of content, development of an author's style and public vision, providing readers with unique information. There are almost no similar channels in Chukotka, and this, according to the author, imposes additional responsibility on him as a storyteller about life at the very extreme point of being.

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