Check out Murmansk in this time-lapse video. You'll get a taste of what an industrial shipping city on Russia's Arctic north looks like.
In the northeast, Russia is bolstering some of its old Soviet military garrisons on the Arctic. They are spending an enormous amount on expanding their navy in the region.
A recent and critically acclaimed Russian film called Leviathan is set in the far north, in the Murmansk region. It doesn't have a lot to do with the history of energy, but it's a weighty film about contemporary political power in Russia well worth watching.
Reading first person accounts from witnesses to the Chernobyl disaster humanizes the event, as many of you pointed out in class. This is surely one of the reasons Svetlana Alexievich's Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster is such a powerful book.
In the context of our course, they also add an important dimension to the broader history of the relationship between Soviet power and technological advance that we've been considering in past weeks. They paint vivid pictures of how individuals experienced, felt about, and concluded from a failure of technology, expertise, and governance. What do the voices tell us about this broader story? About what it meant to be a "hero" in the late Soviet Union? About Soviet identity and patriotism?
Here are some of the resources that we discussed in class.
Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed a resolution this week to enhance the country's radiation safety standards. Good news!
If you take a look at the brief outline of the agreement on the IAEA website you'll notice that at least a couple of items pertain to the "plutopia" that we've been reading about in Kate Brown's book: the study of cancer among the population of the East-Ural region and remediation of "nuclear legacy sites."
By the way, you might find this interview with Brown about her book Plutopia interesting.
Among the Soviet engineering projects that Loren Graham discusses in his book, The Ghost of the Executed Engineer, the White Sea Canal was one of the biggest. As to whether it was "successful" or not, the answer depends on what criteria are used to measure success. It's generally considered to be one of the quintessential Stalinist projects in that it was a colossal achievement, fraught with technological inefficiencies, that cost an enormous number of human lives.
Here's a documentary film Stalin commissioned after the project was complete that shows some of the scale of the project.
Below is "Symphony of Baku Oil" (1933), which we watched and discussed in class today.
Relevant to our conversation, some scholars consider films on the Baku oil-boom to be early examples of the eco-disaster genre of film that we still love to this day. So now you know what Stalinism has in common with Wall-E.
If you're interested in the history of film, you might check out the chapter in Robin Murray and Joseph Heumann's book, Ecology and Popular Film: Cinema on the Edge called "Ecology and Specatacle in Oil Wells of Baku: Close View: The first Eco-Disaster Film?" You can read parts of it here on Google Books. We're going to revisit the theme of eco-disaster and film when we talk about Chernobyl in a few weeks, which could be an interesting basis for a final project.
Here is the Baku oil-field footage we saw the other day, which includes some from before the 1917 Revolution. We looked at a clip from minute 16:40-18:35.
And, of course, James Bond goes to Baku in "The World is Not Enough."
Here is the article we discussed today in class, "Is Putin about to face a 'colored revolution'?" from the Washington Post.
Don't forget a blue book tomorrow to use for your reading response journal.