Left: The underground factory of submarines is seen through the fog. Now it uses as a museum. Right: A public beach in Balaklava.
[ EPF 2013 RECIPIENT ]
This project is a part of my exploration of people’s mind who were born in the USSR.
Changing people’s mind is the most difficult thing. The Soviet Union hasn’t existed for 20 years but the shadow of it lies everywhere. Things have changed but people’s minds and attitudes have not.
Left: A Russian soldier is posing for a picture in Balaklava. After the collapse of the USSR the Soviet army was automatically transferred under Russia’s control. The current history of the Ukrainian Naval Forces began on August 1, 1992 when it was formally established by order of the President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk. This was followed by a long and controversial partition of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet between newly independent Ukraine and the Russian Federation. It was only in 1997 that the ships and equipment of the Black Sea Fleet were officially divided between the two countries. Right: Plantations of grapevines around Balaklava. It was one of the posiible ways of using the undeground area as a vine cellar.
Left: Warships of the Ukrainian coast guards are seen over the wall. Right: Alexander, a director of the military orchestra in Balaklava, is posing for a picture while singing a song about his native town.
Left: Balaklava view in early spring. Right: Natasha in a vintage uniform is a participant of World War II reconstraction that she does with her husband and friends some times during the year.
Left: An ex-captain of a submarine in full dress in his apartment. Right: An underwater bomb is the undeground museum. The government of Ukraine turned the underground military factory into a public museum, and nowadays many people come visit Balaklava that keeps many tales and legends about previous times.
Left: A dining hall from the Soviet time still serves customers in Balaklava. Right: Young pioneers prepared flowers for the Victory Day.
Left: A stone quarry in Balaklava is the main place to find a job nowadays after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Right: A Soviet style post-office in Balaklava.
Left: A woman is posing for a picture in a cafetteria. Right: Fishermen boats in the Balaklava bay.
Left: Young girls are preparing their performance for the Victory Day in the Entertainment Center for Submariners. Right: The Entertainment Center for Submariners.
I made my way to Balaklava, a small town by the sea in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine. During the Soviet era, it was a city that didn’t exist to the outside world. The town closed to the public for more than 30 years due to the submarine base that was situated there.
Almost the entire population of Balaklava worked at the base and even their family members could not visit the town without a good reason or proper identification. It was a closed society, an ambitious, privileged caste, a major league, a private club with limited membership. Officers were well paid, enjoyed special apartments and were given other privileges. It used to be like this.
After the collapse of the USSR in 1992, the Soviet army was automatically transferred to Russia’s control. It was only in 1997 that the ships and equipment of the Black Sea Fleet were officially divided between the two countries Russia and Ukraine. The process of fleet division remains painful since many aspects of the two navies co-existence are under-regulated, causing recurring conflicts.
The system collapse turned the once privileged Soviet officers into unwanted people.
Crossing the streets of Balaklava, I saw traces of this not only in the town but also on people’s faces. They still live in the past. Their attitude to the present situation is complicated, but most of them don’t want to look forward to the future.
Left: Fishermen have their lunch after work. Nowadays a lot of people became fishermen to get some profit and fresh fish for themselves. Right: New built hotels are seen through the fog. The Ukrainian goverment is going to do Balaklava one of the most attractive touristic places.
Left: An old railway line is using for the stone quarry in Balaklava. Right: Children come to Balaklava for the excursion.
Left: People are enjoying a sunny day on a public beach in Balaklava. Right: A stone quarry in Balaklava is the main place to find a job nowadays after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Left: The ghost-house used to be a dormitory for submariners. Nowadays nobody lives there. Right: Old car garages.
Left: An embankment in the center of Balaklava’s bay is mostly empty in winter. Right: The bottom of the bay in Balaklava is seen in the night. Even the environment feels the aftermath of military presents here. Fuel from submarines have been poured out to the sea for many years.
Left: A young girl is working in a beauty salon in Balaklava. Right: Tourists in the undeground museum. The government of Ukraine turned the underground military factory into a public museum, and nowadays many people come visit Balaklava that keeps many tales and legends about previous times.
Oksana Yushko is a freelance photographer based in Moscow. She started working as a professional journalist in 2006 and currently focuses on personal projects in Russia, Chechnya, Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries. Yushko was a selected participant of the 2011 Noor-Nikon Masterclass in Documentary Photography in Bucharest, Romania, and a finalist of the 2010 Conscientious Portfolio Competition. She was also finalist of the 2013 Chiang Mai Documentary Arts Festival, the Grand Prize Winner of Lens Culture International Exposure Awards 2011, a finalist of the Aftermath Project 2010 and a 2011 finalist of the Manuel-Riveira Oritz Foundation. Yushko’s work has been exhibited in galleries in Russia, Finland, UK, USA, and France and her work has been published by media across the world.