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"Vladivostok has become closer to the body than the shirt"

Writer Vasily Avchenko told EastRussia why he will never leave Vladivostok

EastRussia opens a new section called "Unsuccessful". There will be no stories about trillions, gigawatts and tonkilometers. Here we will talk about specific people who have achieved everything that can only be imagined in the Far East, and could leave here to continue to grow somewhere else. But they did not. And with love to the Far Eastern land - grow further.

"Vladivostok has become closer to the body than the shirt"
Photo: facebook
Among the average Russian, the Far East is associated with the snow-covered hills of Manchuria, the death of the Varyag in the cold sea, the Chinese threat and disassembly of the fish and caviar mafia. A native Primorye, writer and publicist Vasily Avchenko is convinced that he lives in the resort of the future. From his native Vladivostok, he does not intend to go anywhere. He grows two sons, writes books that regularly fall into the short lists of national prizes, recently finished working on a biography of his fellow countryman - Soviet writer Alexander Fadeev. He considers himself a convinced provincial and does not understand the very formulation of the question: why should he leave his native city somewhere?

- I remember how I first got to Moscow. I was 19 years old, and it was a stunning experience. Still, Moscow is Moscow. And at that moment, I think, there were thoughts about moving to the capital, like many of my classmates, a significant part of which has long been living there. But then I realized that my place is Vladivostok. That I was lucky to live here. The desire to leave, if it was, was lost. And every year I feel more and more built in Vladivostok reality. The sea, the hills, the flounder, the smelt ... But this is not really the case. Or not only in this. Vladivostok became closer to the body than the shirt. At the same time, I realize that I live in the province. I am a provincial and I give myself an account of it. And I am convinced that not everyone should live in Moscow. In a sense, if you say pathetic, this is even my civic position, - says the writer.

Far from all share it. Over the last quarter century, the population of Primorsky Krai has decreased from two and a half million to incomplete two, the Far East from eight million to six. No wonder life is expensive here. Utilities, products, air tickets, gasoline - for everything you have to pay more than in the capital.

- In Moscow, only apartments are more expensive, which are really worth crazy money, and everything else is more expensive in Vladivostok. And in Magadan or Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky - even more expensive - said Vasily Avchenko. - And of course, the situation on the labor market is much worse. There are fewer opportunities for implementation here than in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Therefore, people leave.

And yet Vasily believes that the Far East has a future. And Vladivostok has the greatest prospects:

- I have most hopes for Vladivostok. It seems to me that this city can be very lucky. And in the first place - because of his position. Vladivostok is an outlet to Korea, Japan, China, and these countries are developing rapidly. And the fact that Peter the First spoke about the window to Europe ... Now is the most appropriate time to really cut the window to Asia. While this is a small window, it needs to be expanded. It is Vladivostok - one of the key points of Russia, and I hope that Moscow will have this in mind. I believe that Vladivostok will not be abandoned, but will develop, and after it other regions of the Far East will also catch up. Because without the state - and in the Far East with its harsh conditions, the role of the state is always more important than in the developed regions of Central Russia - nothing will come of it.

Vladivostok is more than a window from Russia to Asia. This city is also a window from Asia to Europe. Vasily Avchenko visited many Asian countries and became convinced that the same Chinese and Koreans perceive the Russian Far East as part of Europe. Vladivostok is the nearest European city for them.

"For a Peking resident to fly to Vladivostok, this is the most budgetary opportunity to touch European culture," the writer explains. "And the federal authorities are finally thinking about how to use it. Now in Vladivostok, the branches of the Hermitage, the Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum are being prepared for opening. A branch of the Mariinsky Theater has already been opened.

According to Vasyl Avchenko, Vladivostok should also have its own film studio - in return for the lost Odessa. He believes that Russia needs polistolichnost.

- In this respect, I am close to American experience, although I can not call myself a big fan of America. But I like that there is a polycholic scheme implemented. Washington is a political capital, but all life revolves in other cities. If you take California, which can in some sense be compared with Primorye, then the governor sits in Sacramento, and the most interesting things happen in Los Angeles and San Francisco. And no one there himself feels like a provincial, - the writer argues. - Now Vladivostok, of course, is more like a hybrid of California and Alaska. Blessed south and severe North. But he could play a big role. Vladivostok can become a port of a completely different scale. But, in order to develop the city, we need, above all, people who want to live and work here. And in Russia now extra people, as I understand it, no. And the population of the Far East continues to decline. In Primorye, the situation is certainly better than in our northern territories, but the population still decreases. And how to break it, I do not know. Obviously, we need to give birth and die less, but I have no idea how to implement it in the current conditions.

Vasily Avchenko jokes that he has already contributed to the increase in the population of the Far East. I brought a wife Elena from Nizhny Novgorod. I met her at a seminar in Moscow and eventually persuaded me to move to Vladivostok. Once upon a time, Vasily's mother, a geologist by profession, graduated with honors from the Irkutsk Institute and, according to the distribution, chose Primorye. Here I met my future husband, also a geologist, a native Primorye.

- My father was born in Primorye, and grandfather, and only great-grandfather came from Smolensk. So I am a Far East already in the fourth generation. This is more an exception than a rule. In Vladivostok, there have always been many visitors. The population is heterogeneous. Less core of indigenous people than in the same Bryansk or Orel regions. Most of us came here - to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk, Magadan, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky - recently, a maximum of two or three generations ago.

Grandfathers and great-grandfathers have chosen not the worst place for life. In Russia there are only two regions where one can live near the warm sea - the Black Sea coast and Primorye. Primors themselves are convinced that their city is no worse than Sochi. It is located at the same latitude.

"The port city is always a special spirit," Vasily Avchenko says. "And it is especially felt by contrast. When I returned from Magadan, it seemed that Magadan was a real Far East. Restrained, severe, calm. And Vladivostok is almost Sochi. He returned, went to the embankment, and here comes what I have already become unaccustomed to. Shish kebab, children, people dance, drink, get acquainted, bathe in the sea .... All relaxed, southern. Everything, as Ostap Bender dreamed, in white pants ... This is no longer in Petropavlovsk, Magadan, or Sakhalin.

A real seaside in the depths of the soul is always an adventurer. This is one of the defining features of the Far Eastern character.

- In Russia, by and large, a fairly homogeneous population - even more homogeneous than in China, France or Germany. We read the same books and speak the same language in all senses of the word. We really are one, which sometimes seems fantastic, because Russia is huge and torn apart by giant distances, a lack of roads, the cost of travel. But there are differences. And they create what is usually called Siberian or Far Eastern character. It seems to me that the determining factor here is the proximity to the Asian countries, to a different culture, which is generally incomprehensible to us. Even to us, the Far East, the German or American culture is much closer than the Chinese or Japanese culture. But the proximity to these countries has its influence. As well as proximity to the sea. Primorets is a person who lives on the border of the elements. And on the border of the cultural oceans, and on the border of land and sea. In specific conditions - in the surf strip. Biologists know: wherever the tide is replaced by an ebb, a lot of interesting things happen. We live in this band, and here there is a sense of what the Americans called frontier. We are people of the frontier, we live on the border and learn new spaces. It was not by chance that Ilya Ehrenburg, and after him Nikita Khrushchev, compared Vladivostok with San Francisco.

Unfortunately, the writer says, now most Russians do not have the opportunity to see the Far East with their own eyes. The reason is banal - expensive. It is cheaper to visit Europe or Asia. Even Primorye can not visit the Kuriles or Chukotka. And it's expensive and difficult.

- To get to Pevek - this is in the north of Chukotka - some fly through Moscow. This is our logistics. Many would be happy to fly not to Thailand, and to Kamchatka, if there were conditions. Some time ago, authorities talked about priority national projects. So, the development of the transport system should, in my opinion, become one of them. I recently went to China, went from Shenyang to Harbin by high-speed train - more than 300 km per hour. The whole of Japan, China is covered with a network of such roads. We also make the first steps in this direction, but only in the capitals. In the Far East, there is no such thing as "Sapsanam" yet. Vladivostok from Khabarovsk is a little further than Shenyang from Harbin, but going there by train is a whole adventure. It is necessary to sit in the compartment in the evening, eat a boiled chicken, talk with fellow travelers - and only in the morning you come to Khabarovsk ... And if there could be got for 2-3 hours ... This would simplify communication. Now the Far East is a disparate territory, very loosely connected, and with central Russia too. It needs to be changed. I would very much like that my compatriots had the opportunity to visit here.
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