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The chronicles of Novosibirsk

The past year was challenging for Siberia and the Far East - but packed with hard-hitting stories

By Kate Baklitskaya
02 January 2014

Here we go back in time and remember 13 remarkable moments of 2013.

Sunrise. Picture: Victor Tulbanov

The year started with a medical breakthrough in beating addiction - literally!

Deep in Siberia, scientists claim they could cure drink and drug addicts, as well as helping workaholics and even those obsessed with sex - by using corporal punishment. The reaction of most people is predictable: to snigger, scoff or make jokes loaded with sexual innuendo.

But 22 year old Natasha insists they have got completely the wrong end of the stick - or rather the cane.  And she should know. 

'I am the proof that this controversial treatment works,' she says, 'and I recommend it to anyone suffering from an addiction or depression. It hurts like crazy - but it's given me back my life. Without it I seriously believe I would now be dead'.

scientists claim they could cure drink and drug addicts, as well as helping workaholics and even those obsessed with sex - by using corporal punishment

In mid-February the southern Urals were hit by a meteorite

Spectacular falling fragments of space rock struck the Chelyabinsk region on a Friday morning after exploding in the atmosphere. A large fireball flashed across the sky at around 9.20am local time, breaking into several pieces. Pictures show a streak of smoke followed by several bright blasts of flames.

Spectacular falling fragments of space rock struck the Chelyabinsk region on a Friday morning after exploding in the atmosphere.  

At the end of March we saluted the work of Tomsk Modelling School for People with Special Needs

Tomsk is probably little different from other places: statistics shows that the region has 64,300 people with special needs, one in 15 among the local population. Some 3,200 are children and almost the same number are wheelchair users.  

'Our society doesn't raise this problem, doesn't discuss it. And only when you become one of them you realise how little is done for them', she Irina Dorokhova, the creator of a unique school aiming to change not only the life of people with special needs but also to break stereotypes in Russian society.

At the end of March we saluted the work of Tomsk Modelling School for People with Special Needs

In April, bloggers Andrey and Luidmila pictured a beautiful volcanic eruption in Kamchatka

Despite of the threat of being almost carried away by the river of fire they still managed to take stunning photographs.

'A little adventure during the very first night at Tolbachik', is how Andrey described it with a touch of understatement. 'We had been standing up quietly, sipping vodka. Lava was flowing past calmly'.

bloggers Andrey and Luidmila pictured a beautiful volcanic eruption in Kamchatka.

At the end of April, Siberia won the world record for bikini skiing

It was described as a 'v-e-rrry hot day' in fashionable snow resort Sheregesh as 700 women and men (in swim suits) smashed the world record.

'The previous record for 'ski bikini parade' was set in Canada. At that time 250 riders came down the slope', said organisers. 'To beat that record at least 251 riders needed to go down Green mountain at the same time - wearing a bikini or swim wear'. And they did! 

At the end of April, Siberia won the world record for bikini skiing

Blood and muscle from an extinct mammoth was found in Siberia

The discovery of an ice-preserved female mammoth came amid a debate on whether scientists should try to recreate the species using DNA.

An international team of researchers discovered the unique material in a permafrost mammoth graveyard in Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic. 

'In a unique location at a depth of about 100 metres we found very precious material to explore. It is soft, fatty tissue, hair, bone marrow  of the mammoth' said the director of the Museum of Mammoths of the North-Eastern Federal University, the head of the expedition. 

Blood and muscle from an extinct mammoth is found in Siberia.

In July, Arctic city Norilsk was hit by record-breaking heat in a new sign of changing weather pattern

Tewmperatures soared to 32C, we reported, with this Arctic outpost competing with the Mediterranean. The tundra turned hot as the Kransnoyarsk region industrial city - where foreigners are restricted from visiting - smashed records for heat established in 1979.

The average temperature in July was 13.6C but the mercury was touching 32C, a long way from the coldest-ever recorded temperature of minus 61C.

In July, Arctic city Norilsk was hit by record-breaking heat in a new sign of changing weather pattern.

In August thousands of people faced evacuation in worst flooding of the Russian Far East in modern times

Waves of flooding were labelled 'catastrophic' as Russian president Vladimir Putin demanded: 'Put people first'.

Tens of thousands of homes  were hit by rivers bursting their banks in stricken regions, with villages marooned, bridges washed away, farm land submerged, and a threat of disease. The flooding of biblical proportions came as wildfires took hold causing irreparable damage to pristine forests.

In August thousands of people faced evacuation in worst flooding of the Russian Far East in modern times

Unusually warm weather with rains in the middle of December made Siberians marvel - and worry! - at the snow shortage

We highlighted December images taken in two Siberian cities Krasnoyarsk and Barnaul showing scenes that locals insisted were unprecedented in living memory. The pictures from Krasnoyarsk showed an almost total absence of snow yet as every school child around the world knows, snow is what Siberia is all about. 

No more, it seemed. The images of the River Yenisei with ducks splashing in the water, and grass in the parks, could be from autumn rather than deep in the winter in a city where December temperatures have gone as low as minus 47C, and the daily mean in minus 13C at this time of year, with plenty of snow on the ground.  

Unusually warm weather with rains in the middle of December made Siberians marvel - and worry! - at the snow shortage.

International spotlight was on Siberia as scientists unlocked secrets from the 'world's oldest' boy and girl

Unique remains gave vital clues to man's origins and early travels, say experts.

Two separate cases showed world scientists examining Siberia's deep past to understand the present. 

In one, the Royal Society in London was shown a genome analysis comparison between Neanderthals and the Denisovans, the latter from a girl's bone and teeth remains unearthed a cave in the Altai region of Siberia dating back around 50,000 years.

International spotlight was on Siberia as scientists unlocked secrets from the 'world's oldest' boy and girl  

Pussy Riot protester Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was released from the Siberian prison hospital in December

Her anti-Putin bandmate Maria Alyokhina was freed earlier from a jail west of the Urals. The pair were imprisoned for a Moscow cathedral protest stunt about the Orthodox church's alleged close relationship with Vladimr Putin, the Russian president.

Their sentence of two years was lambasted in the West as harsh but many Russians, according to polls,  agreed they had insulted the church and saw their punishment as appropriate. On the 23 December, within hours of each other, the women, who both have small children, were released under an amnesty agreed by the Russian parliament.

Pussy Riot protester Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was released from the Siberian prison hospital in December.  Her anti-Putin bandmate Maria Alyokhina was freed earlier from a jail west of the Urals

Russian gun-maker and patriot Mikhail Kalashnikov died in December aged 94

The Siberian-born national hero worked well into his 80s as the planet's most famous weapons designer. He was in his 20s when he designed the AK-47 after being wounded as a tank commander in the Second World War. He created his first guns after listening to complaints by wounded Red Army soldiers. An estimated 100 million Kalashnikov rifles have been manufactured.

He once said: 'I am often asked, 'how do you sleep knowing how many people were killed from your machine gun? I always say back 'I sleep very well, thank you. It should be politicians that start wars that suffer from sleeping problems. My machine gun was made for defence'.

Russian gun-maker and patriot Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of AK-47 died in December aged 94.

The most inspiring family picture of the year was of Jessica Long meeting her Siberian family

'I love them more than words can say. My heart is so full,' said the 21 year old record breaking swimmer.

The extraordinary image shows Jessica with her blood mother Natalia Valtysheva, who gave birth to her as frightened teenage mother, and also her biological father, Oleg, together for the first time with her siblings.

Jessica, an inspiration for her sporting achievements, travelled half way around the world to meet her family in the village of Tem in the Bratsk district of the Irkutsk region. She admitted to 'life changing moments' as she came face to face with the parents who gave her up to a grim orphanage, persuaded they could not cope when they realised the extent of her handicap.

The most inspiring family picture of the year was of Jessica Long meeting her Siberian family.

Comments (3)

Very nice year-rewind
Y., France
04/01/2014 19:44
2
0
Some awe inspiring scenery, Quintessential unimaginable photos of Lakes. Mountains Forest throughout different parts of Siberia .
Some exciting current discoveries of past both human and beast, e.g. the endless devotion shown by two human couples embraced in a time warp , a poignant yet moving moment of 50,000 yrs ago WOW
The most unbelievable luck of finding a Mammoth that could still yield blood samples, DNA, da da a chance in a million. WOW again .
The realisation of Siberia's enormous potential as a bottomlessTreasure Chest to the russian economy,not only in minerals gas and oil,but also tourism .
Last but not least ----the last Garden of Eden on this planet The Altai Region,beautiful, splendorous ,stunning
indescribably unique , must be seen to be believed .WOW third time .
Thank you Siberian Times , Thank you journalist and photographers Wishing you all the best of health in 2014 .
Patrick.
Patrick Travers, Perth Australia
03/01/2014 12:43
4
0
Thanks for showing the real Siberia not the stereotype !
Ben, Maine
02/01/2014 10:09
6
0
1

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