A family in turmoil
after the breakdown of the Soviet Union

Last updated: 18.4.2002

Long time ago, Katya used to live comfortably in a nice apartment on the Crimea peninsula in the Black Sea with her husband, a military officer, and son Igor and his young family. After the breakdown of the Soviet Union, Crimea stayed with the Ukraine, Katya's husband was decommissioned, and there was not much for them to do in the beautiful Crimea, there were few jobs for them as they suddenly ended up living in a "foreign country". Several years ago they moved back to Irkutsk where Katya had two sisters. Unfortunately, soon after that, Katya's husband died. After that Katya managed to get work in the office of a university dormitory with which went a tiny room to live in, without running water, divided into a bedroom and a tiny-tiny kitchen by a wall of wardrobes. The building is however in urgent need of repair which has been being postponed for several years due to the lack of funds. There is only one toilet and four washbasins for the whole floor with about 30 rooms. Towards the end of my stay in Irkutsk, a pipe broke in the building, and they were without running water for a whole week. It was just when a new baby was born in one of the rooms on their floor. The latest news is that the repairs of a neighbouring boarded-up building finally started this spring. When finished, they will move in there, and their building will be repaired in turn.

Alenka goes to a kindergarten on working days. She is a very lively child, all the time in motion, and their room is too small for her.

In the meantime, her son Igor tried his luck in Crimea in the furniture industry. His young wife Lea with their daughter Alenka tried her luck in Moscow. Igor eventually came to live with his mother in Irkutsk some time ago, where she was able to get another room for him in the same dormitory. Alenka joined them in December 2000. Lea had to stay in Moscow for another year to finish some contract obligations. She was finally able to join the rest of family just a few days after I left Irkutsk on Dec. 17, 2001.

Igor started his own upholstered furniture business in the summer of 2001. Slowly buying all the necessary equipment, he is working hard with five employees from 9 am till 9 pm, making furniture in the crowded confines of a makeshift workshop. He managed to stay afloat so far.

Thousands of other families have been uprooted in a similar during the last decade on the territory of former Soviet Union.

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