The old village was turned into a cemetery, and people were kicked out into the street

There are a great many abandoned and forgotten villages in Russia, but this one has a special fate. He would have kept the history of all Siberia, but only horrors have to be recalled. From the ancient and once prosperous village of Korkino, which is not far from Krasnoyarsk, there is only a huge cemetery and a road with three houses.

Now no one will remember her, but at the beginning of the 2000s, the Korka residents were in the center of attention: they wrote letters to Putin, to the Prosecutor General’s Office, and went on hunger strikes. These people were kicked out into the street without providing anything in return.

The village was declared unfit for life – the proximity to the aluminum plant affected. The houses of those who refused to move out were simply burned down.

The story of Korkino is about the famous Krasnoyarsk ecology, it is about multimillion-dollar fraud with apartments for immigrants, about the eternal struggle of a little man with Leviathan in the face of all Russian officials.

The disappeared village

We arrived at the place where the village of Korkino was once located, in the days of the “black sky” in Krasnoyarsk. Surprisingly, the snow here is white and the air is clean, despite the close proximity to the Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter.

Once there were three settlements around KrAZ. The industrial one was built for the border guards who built the KrAZ. After that, employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service lived in it – there are three more colonies around the plant. In the 90s, the village was demolished – also for environmental reasons. The village of Peschanka, like Korkino, was located on the banks of the Yenisei, one and a half to two kilometers from KrAZ, they also wanted to demolish it, but the residents did not allow it.

There are no signs in Korkino. The first thing that a casual traveler meets is a huge cemetery. There are unusually many rusty plates with numbers, stretching out of the snowdrifts, like the palms of the dead – these are graves with unclaimed remains. There are also fresh crosses with death dates from 2020 – there are still enough places in the old cemetery.

From the old village now under the walls of KrAZ there is a long road – the former main street. And there are three houses on it. The rest is dotted with the pockmarks of illegal quarries: after the demolition of Korkino, the territory was recognized as a green zone, where any production is prohibited, but this did not stop the gravel diggers.

In 2000, Korkino was recognized as an ecologically unfavorable area. But people still live here.

Tatyana Alekseevna has been in Korkino since 1964. The person asks not to show it – he is afraid for the daughter-in-law, who works in the authorities. After the hunger strikes, her son was forced to resign from the Ministry of Internal Affairs. She says that this is how she was punished for “raising the storm.”

Life is simple: a small house with one room with a stove, a chicken coop, a trailer bath and a summer kitchen, in which in 2004 the residents of Korki were starving. He rarely gets out to the city – it’s too noisy there – only to the store and the clinic. The son brings food and drinking water.

Tatyana Alekseevna’s company consists of four cats and three dogs. All, except for the oldest 23-year-old dog, are nailed to the house of the tramp. A woman knits socks and belts from dog hair for sale, in the summer she grows a garden and goes fishing – there are fat carps in the quarries.

– Everything was here: a ten-year school, a first-aid post, a library, a kindergarten, a club to which people from Krasnoyarsk visited us. Two or three families lived in each courtyard, more than a thousand people in the village. In the 60s, the KrAZ was built first by border guards, then by convicts. Every morning they walked past them to work, and then she herself went to work at KrAZ – to the laboratory of the CPL.

It was all a lie about the environment, about gas pollution. They came to us, took samples from all the gardens – nothing was confirmed. Only our water is not potable – there is too much lime. What worried was the cemetery: the unclaimed ones were buried anyhow, in the spring the soil was washed away – the hands and feet of the deceased stuck out, the dogs carried it around the village. They complained to the authorities, there would come a bulldozer with gravel, fill the ditch – what’s the point? All this is next to the kindergarten! – the pensioner shares.

What was the village like before? Two central streets, several lanes and dozens of private houses. At the end of the street there was an old Church of the Ascension, which was founded back in 1857. In 2016, it was recognized as a cultural heritage site. By that time, it had already been burned down for 19 years.

In general, Korkino is a deep cultural layer. According to the assurances of archaeologists, people have always been here – this is indicated by the Bronze Age tools found in the village. Old-timers found coins and cartridges from Kolchak’s times in their gardens, and recall houses made of stained wood. People lived here two and ten thousand years ago.


In the early 2000s, journalists compared Korkino to the Chernobyl exclusion zone. With terrible mutations in animals and severe diseases in humans.

An excerpt from Alexey Tarasov’s article “Aluminum Soldiers”:

“The dog had hooves. Shaggy Mongolian horse. He looked at me with disgust – as if I were a bunch of something that was worse than shit, and, without stopping, stumbled on. Now you can see: the hoof is on only one leg, he is pressing it – this is a tumor.

I came here 26 years ago. Then there was not a wasteland, but the village of Korkino. You will not surprise a village without old people in Russia, but it turned out to be without old women. One young woman carried a cat with breast cancer out of the house in her arms, the other showed a dog behind the garden – she was also with hooves, lying. And the courtyard Count was also running around with a second stomach (a huge tumor) on his side. “

Former deputy of the village council Raisa Sherstneva arrived in Korkino in 1974, when she was just 18 years old.

– Father was very happy with the plant. He said that there will always be work here. We began to feel sad much later. At first, the hooves of the cows crumbled, the legs gave way. And then the children began to suffer. In the morning you get up – all the beds are covered in white, it was KrAZ that smoked all night. Whoever lived closer to the Yenisei, everything was fine there – the wind blew away the emissions.

Doctor of Chemistry, Honored Metallurgist of the RSFSR Pyotr Polyakov said that the main pollutants in the electrolytic production of aluminum are hydrogen fluoride, polyaromatic gases (benzopyrene and others) and dust.

– One cannot think that the Soviet metallurgical industry did not pay attention to the environment, but it was clearly insufficient. But after the coup (the collapse of the USSR. – Ed.) No one began to pay attention to it anymore. Already in the Soviet years it was clear that it was necessary to change the technology of electrolysis and gas cleaning. With the help of Kaiser, Rusal introduced dry gas cleaning technology and the use of dry anode pulp – it contains less polyaromatics (less coal tar pitch, following the Japanese experience). Dust and gas emissions decreased significantly, but this was already after the 90s.

Before that, for almost forty years, fluorine was deposited on Korkino and Peschanka.

– In any case, hydrogen fluoride, which is released from the aluminum plant, is absorbed by the bones in the form of calcium fluoride fluoride. This is especially evident in animals that eat the same grass, which contains an excess of fluoride salts. Once I was in the States, there was a fence (mesh-netting) near an aluminum plant, where cows were grazing. They were produced by the plant to show that everything is in order with the environment, that the content of fluoride salts in the grass does not exceed the norm. Otherwise they will be sued – their laws are harsh. In our country, the Soviet government took an imprudent step by building a plant with such a large capacity within the city limits. The French say that a plant with a capacity of 300 thousand tons per year cannot be built near the city – it is dangerous for the city. And we built a plant with a capacity of 700 thousand tons and continued to increase capacities, – says Polyakov.

According to Polyakov, electrolysers with Söderberg anode are still used at the Krasnoyarsk aluminum smelter – the same Chinese abandoned this outdated technology back in the 90s due to air pollution and high specific energy consumption. Most of the world’s factories also refused. They are still used in Russia. Rusal is carrying out an extensive environmental program – in particular, to reduce benzopyrene emissions, but Polyakov does not know its details. He notes, however, that statistics on both emissions and the health effects of their exposure are lacking to complete the public picture. Rusal began publishing the results of pollution measurements in 2017.

The editors applied for data to Rosprirodnadzor, the Ministry of Ecology of the Territory and the Central Siberian UGMS. All of us were told that no measurements were taken in the vicinity of Korkino. Rusal declined to comment on the environmental topic. The regional Ministry of Health was unable to provide data on diseases in the villages of Korkino and Peschanka.

But the statistical data were provided by specialists of the Krasnoyarsk agrochemical center, who measured soil contamination with water-soluble fluorine one and a half kilometers from Korkino, on the Peschanka lands. Measurements have been carried out since 1996, and even then they exceeded the maximum permissible values ​​twice, by 2005 – 3.5 times.

The head of the laboratory of the Institute of Forest of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexander Shishikin, studies technogenic pollution in the intestines of field mice. Research has been carried out since 2015, including in the KrAZ area. Analyzes have shown that no serious pathologies are recorded in mice, even in those who live near the plant’s fence. The only thing that scientists have noticed is a decrease in reproductive functions.

– Korkino is located on the terrace – on the banks of the Yenisei, and along the Yenisei the air does not freeze even in winter. Therefore, there the air flows go along Korkino. I think that an ecological racketeering was carried out here. Korkino became a victim of this racketeering. Ecology was used here as housewives understand it. Ecology is a very complex science about the interconnections of components in an ecosystem. I think that the residents themselves are tired of living there, especially pensioners who could not improve their housing. It all depends on the possibilities. There was an opportunity to demolish Korkino – well, it was demolished. And what does ecology have to do with it? They would have been demolished under the program of dilapidated housing, – says Shishikin.

Hunger. Fires

In 2000, the then governor of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, Alexander Lebed, signed a decree on the resettlement of an ecologically unfavorable area. Here begins a new story of Korkino – the story of oblivion.

We are in Peschanka, near a rickety one-room house. Nearby on the site is a box of aerated concrete blocks – the future large house. The short, slender owner lights up another cigarette. Valekh Veliyev is a former resident of Korkin, one of those who starved indefinitely, demanding an apartment from the authorities. When asked about ecology and animal mutations, Valekh laughs contagiously:

– Well I kept the farm: pigs, cows, lambs. This is all nonsense. KrAZ has more influence on Berezovka than on Korkino – it is located in the lowland. And all the dust flies to the Sunny and Green Grove.

There are deep cracks in the plaster in the room, Valekh modestly asks not to remove the interior decoration. During the conversation, a tall, silent man enters the room – his son, Valekh Valekhovich. He brings a tray of tea and sweets and leaves in silence. When he was four years old, his mother, the wife of Valekh Veliyev, died. The man raised his son alone, kept the household. This was the case until 2004 – by that time two houses on Yastynskaya, promised to the settlers, had been completed. Veliyev, like 13 of his fellow villagers, did not have enough apartments, despite all the documents of title to the house in Korkino. Therefore, Valekh stayed with his six-year-old son. Despite the fact that people still lived in the village, the authorities on the day of the official eviction of Korkino cut off electricity and stopped supplying drinking water.

– The guardianship authorities came to me, they frightened that my son would be taken away. But we continued to live – we lived in Korkino for another year. And then my son asked me to go to the lake to swim – here in Peschanka. As soon as we left, they called me and said: “Your house is on fire,” Valekh recalls.

It was not possible to save the house and property from the fire. The statements to the police did not yield anything either. The residents of Korkin are sure that no one was looking for the arsonists, since they acted at the direction of the administration.

After the fire, Valekh and his son left for a field near Peschanka. He built a dugout there and lived for several more years without water and electricity, of the amenities there was only a gasoline generator. After that, father and son moved to visit their friend’s house in Peschanka and lived until they bought an old house, in which we are now talking. The dugout still stands in that field, in the summer Valekh rests there after work. In Peschanka, he runs a small farm – he grows vegetables, which he takes for sale to wholesale depots in Krasnoyarsk.

The people of Korka who remained in the village at that time got used to regular arson.

– Burned insolently: if a tinted car without numbers drove through the village in the morning – the house is on fire in the evening. If I drove in the evening, we burn by morning, – said Tatyana Alekseevna, who still lives in Korkino.


14 families were unable to move into new houses. Why? Firstly, in 2003, the deputy governor of Krasnoyarsk, Vadim Medvedev, advised the department of property relations of Krasnoyarsk not to issue registration certificates and extracts to the residents of Korkin for their homes – a copy of the order with signatures was shown to us by residents. Therefore, some were unable to prove ownership of the house, despite having lived there for decades. Secondly, before the resettlement, people walked along Korkino and asked to register them in the houses of the indigenous people. Not for free. Later they will receive apartments and immediately sell them. According to estimates of the starving residents of Korka, from 60 to 80 apartments have gone “to the left”.

– People from other cities, regions received [apartments] that had nothing to do with Korkino at all. They registered retroactively – six families per house! And there they were already given not according to documents, but according to registration! People who were born and lived all their lives in Korkino received nothing. The administration knew that this person would not go to complain – he could be deceived. People are simple. On the other hand, I had an abandoned house next to the site, my grandfather lived there and died. The boy nailed in Korkino, he had nowhere to live – and I tell him to live there. So he lived there for a year and got an apartment! Without any documents! I have lived since 90 and have not received anything, ”Valekh wonders.

The residents of Korkin were divided into two groups: the initiative group – those who yearned for resettlement and new apartments, who approved their own commission, and the second – who were left without housing. Tatyana Alekseevna, who still lives in Korkino, recalls:

– Those who sat on the commission received five apartments each, they just didn’t ask for an apartment for dogs. The district even got an apartment. At the beginning of the resettlement, we were told that there were not enough apartments for everyone and we could not resettle everyone – sit, wait, sue. I asked on what basis I should be sued. They say: “Prove that you lived here.” And now our village people, who were sitting in the commission, looking into my eyes, said: “I have never seen you here and I don’t know.” It was insulting to tears.

The proactive ones accused the starving people of extortion. At the session of the Legislative Assembly in 2004, the head of the village Natalya Rakcheeva, sitting in the chair of the then speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Alexander Uss, said:

– 12 people sat every day and waited for the Korka gentlemen to come. It got to the point that we were looking for everyone. Not a single ruble was paid for any apartment, and not a single bribe was taken. I say this, with my hand on my heart.

Lost fight

The dispossessed Korka residents went to seek justice in court – many have from five to nine courts behind them – but they never got the truth. They went on a hunger strike.

We are transported to the fall of 2004, to Tatyana Alekseevna’s tiny summer kitchen. 14 people were on hunger strike there. Our colleagues from Channel 7 were then greeted with indignation – journalists, not specific, but all, angry residents accused of hushing up the problem.

By that time, after the first unsuccessful trials, the residents of Korka had already written letters to the prosecutor’s office, the police, the governor, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the central television and even the presidential administration – Putin. In response – replies: the application was accepted, the check was carried out, there are no grounds for a departmental response or the provision of housing.

People in a tiny room were starving and waiting for new court hearings to fight for their rights. Someone tried to inherit, someone – to establish the rights to the house in which he lived for several years. The only entertainment in the summer kitchen was knitting and a tiny radio television set on which the hungry people watched the news.

In the center of the room is a woman with a loud voice – Yulia Volkova, an activist from Korkino. She kept in touch with journalists, deputies and activists who tried to help her. We meet with her 17 years after the settlement and demolition of the village.

– With the courts, everything became clear very quickly: in Krasnoyarsk, we will not break through. The courts recognized our houses as unauthorized buildings. We went to Novosibirsk, showed the solutions – they laughed there, said that the business was obviously a losing one. We wrote an appeal to the president during the first hunger strike. Before that, no one wrote anything. After all, we were assured: prove your right to resettlement, the apartments are standing, waiting for settlement. And while they were proving their rights, the apartments were dismantled. The case was investigated for some time by the UBEP, but we received no answer. The investigation was simply curtailed. Before the hunger strike, nobody [the department] accepted any statements, ”Volkova is indignant.


The construction of houses was not more productive than the subsequent resettlement. Korkintsev was planned to be resettled in 2002 by order of the Governor Lebed. Financing was carried out from the regional budget, KrAZ also chipped in money – 73 and 40 million, respectively.

The preparation of the estimate was given to the director of the housing construction fund Vladimir Beznosov, and control over the implementation of the order was given to the deputy governor Valery Suladze. The first was fired in 2002 for sluggishness (Evgeny Dobriansky was appointed to his place), the money from the budget was not used in full. Suladze in the same year was arrested for a bribe of 250 thousand dollars from the construction magnate Vladimir Yegorov – that was a kickback for a contract for the construction of houses for Chernobyl victims and migrants from the North. At the same time, the money for the construction of houses for the residents of Korki ended.

In 2003, the then Minister of Construction Nikolai Glushkov, at a session of the Legislative Assembly, announced that the houses would be completed by 2004 – it took 90 million to complete, of which 45 million from the budget. The promise was fulfilled.

Former deputy from Korkino Raisa Sherstneva, who was a member of the first initiative group, said that before the 2000s, Korkino residents had already been resettled, but in small groups. She blames them for the troubles of those who have not been resettled:

– You should have walked with your legs! Sign up, go for help. People are village people: they are accustomed to the fact that it is written in the village council who the house belongs to, so there is no need to prove anything. Yes, they had courts, but there everyone had a losing situation. The same Valekh – he first rented a house, was a tenant, the owner was a completely different person. Mother did not want to register Tatyana, and when she agreed, she lost her passport. I restored it when the approved lists had already been submitted to the region! And so in everything!

While the non-relocated residents of Korka were starving, the rest moved to a new house under the sight of the cameras of television cameras. Governor Alexander Khloponin gave bouquets to elderly new settlers, illuminating the camera with a sincere smile, behind them – the mayor of Krasnoyarsk Pyotr Pimashkov and the general director of the regional housing fund Evgeny Dobryansky (now deceased). The residents of Korkin even created their own HOA, which was chaired by Nadezhda Rakcheeva, who relocated the village. Even today, the Korka people work in the partnership.

Former Minister of Architecture and Construction of the Territory Nikolai Glushkov told NGS24.RU that the Korkino project was successful. He refused the rest of the comments – too much time had passed, and it was not possible to raise the statistical data.


Korkino’s story is about all of Russia. And the point is not in bureaucratic machinations and not in how industrial giants squeeze life out of the earth and people – this is exactly what everyone has long been accustomed to. Korkino – about how everyday villages with a long history are dying. The heritage, which the Europeans so zealously guard, we sell for resources, profit here and now. And the remnants will be taken away by marauders. They will burn it. They will dig it up. The remaining village cemetery is a silent monument to this phenomenon, regularly replenished with graves with unclaimed bodies.

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