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'Siberia is so big, it’s almost more an idea than a place'
Ian Frazier

Guards with batons block entry to Siberia’s Maldives, a toxic lake resembling tropical paradise

By The Siberian Times reporter
23 July 2019

Instagrammers still find a way - driving over fields of grass, wild cannabis and nettles to reach turquoise waters despite ‘dangers to health’.

'Can you read or not? We cannot allow you to go further, you must go away.' 

The discharge lake from a Siberian power station in Novosibirsk has become world famous for its idyllic views while actually a poisonous waste dump filled with a chemical cocktail that can cause skin and respiratory problems. 

Stunning pictures have gone round the world as Russians pose at the site, dreaming they are in the Maldives or Seychelles, rather than at Lake Ash Dump. 

But with prosecutors checking the site, when The Siberian Times visited we found guards blocking the way to the pilgrimage of Instagrammers seeking entry to this poisonous paradise. 

The posts of the guards


The guards prevented us to go further


The post moved forward to control all the ways

One guard called Sergey confided that his team had their hands full keeping out the Instagrammers.

One guard told us gruffly: 'It is written on the warning plate that it is prohibited to enter this place.

'Can you read or not? We cannot allow you to go further, you must go away.'

Their message was: ‘No Maldives here!' And 'Maldives prohibited!’

While the views are stunning, the smell is noxious. 

It is not only the reek from the pungent lake. A nearby poultry farm dump adds its only unpleasant aroma, as does the smoke from distant wildfires.

One guard called Sergey confided that his team had their hands full keeping out the Instagrammers, and we saw drivers and cyclists being sent away. 

The pipes with the ash


The access to the lake  

‘Do you hear the sound in the pipes? It is the ash (with water) being discharged there.'  

'People do not understand the dangers - and there are a lot of them,’ he explained. ‘Every day we turn away around 50 people. 

‘They plan to swim, do not hesitate. And it is prohibited to swim here. 

‘They undress and just go there, as if they do not care about themselves at all. They bring kids here... 

‘We explain them that it is prohibited, and sometimes they react aggressively, even with swear words.

'They tell us: 'Who are you to prohibit us?'. 

‘First they go there and swim, and then will complain about the health issues.’

He says an industrial noise is a sign of the pollution from the power station, operated by the Siberian Generating Company (SGC).

‘Do you hear the sound in the pipes? 

‘It is the ash (with water) being discharged there, into the turquoise swamp. 

‘And they bring their kids here and swim, bring inflatable mattresses with them and put the children there. 

'They go on foot, drop the cars, try to sneak along the pipes to gain entry.

The guards stop the visitors

'You cannot swim here and may not enter this water, do you get it? Do you feel the smell? This is not the Maldives, you know!'

'We have a mobile patrol, you can see that white spot far away. They check other access points to the site.' 

He told of a woman who had flouted the rules to bathe here then went to the company to complain that she suffered health problems. 

‘Naturally they refused to pay her,’ he said dismissively. ‘This is not for swimming. It is an industrial area.’

He complained: 'Some come drunk, they are searching for adventures…

‘But it is is not only the water is bad for bathing, but the bottom can suck you in, there is the layer of silt there… You could get dragged in.’

Despite the guards some determined photographers are making it to see the Maldives, driving through fields of grass, wild cannabis and nettles.

The trouble is, he explained that people do not believe authority figures any more.

‘They just do not believe. Probably our people got so used to being constantly cheated, so they do not believe anybody.' 

Some even offer bribes to get in to see the sights at this Siberian Seychelles. 

Rare people manage to reach 'Maldives' now


Rare people manage to reach 'Maldives' now

As more photo-seekers approached on bikes, we witnessed this exchange:

Male cyclist: Wow! How can we get there? 

Guard: You will not get anywhere! There are guards everywhere. 

Yes? 

Yes, so... You cannot swim here and may not enter this water, do you get it? Do you feel the smell? This is not the Maldives, you know! 

So no chances to get there? 

No, you will not get in. Guards everywhere. In every corner.

Enjoying Maldives


Enjoying Maldives


Enjoying Maldives


Enjoying Maldives


Enjoying Maldives


Posing with pics


Mom with newborn

'People do not understand the dangers - and there are a lot of them.’ Pictures: @tweezer-nsk, Mikhail Reshetnikov, Instagram

At the same time, a car is turned away. 

The cyclists retreat but then soon afterwards, the guards spot them making a new bid to reach the famous lake. 

Again, they are stopped. 

But as a video shows, despite the guards some determined photographers are making it to see the Maldives, driving through fields of grass, wild cannabis and nettles.

And posting their pictures.

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