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Where Time Begins...

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When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990’s, the worst of social and economic ruin devastated the poorest and remotest regions, including Chukotka, nine time zones east of Moscow. Subsidized industries were abandoned. Jobs disappeared. Skilled labor and professionals abandoned Chukotka in droves. Health services were reduced to dysfunctional status. Alcoholism and suicide reached epidemic proportions. Housing and utility infrastructure went into deterioration. For the people remaining in the region, time stood still.

All that changed when Chukotkans elected a wealthy Russian oligarch to the office of Governor in December of 2000. His name is Roman Abramovich, better known in Western circles as the audacious Russian who bought an English football team (Chelsea). Abramovich took charge of a bankrupt Chukotka and invested millions of his own dollars in restoring the economic and social infrastructure. He invited and secured foreign investment. He tried to awaken the people to the trading possibilities open to them on the Pacific Rim, just across the International Dateline from Alaska.

Where Time Begins is an exclusive chronicle of the Abramovich five-year plan in Chukotka, played out against the region’s haunting history of human expendability. We encounter aboriginal Chukchi herding reindeer from small family clusters of yurts on the outback tundra, a culture and economy that goes back at least 8000 years. We encounter Canadian contractors building new schools and houses for these self same families. We encounter young unemployed Russians drinking beer in the streets as an army of Turkish workers toils to build new streets and cultural centers. We encounter an international mining company developing the world’s richest gold deposit in the mountain lands of the interior.

Where Time Begins begs the question: is a five year plan of infrastructure renewal enough to kick start a sustainable, forward looking, market economy in a place where democracy has only begun to take root, where there are no roads or railways, where human work skills and habits have not been retrained, where the climate is harsh and unforgiving? Put another way, can a new Russia emerge when the baggage of old Russia is so heavy and enduring?

View a printer friendly version of this page...Copyright Date: 2004 Length: 41 minutes Library Audience:
  • Adult
  • School Audience:
  • Grades 10 - 12
  • Post-Secondary Education
  • Subjects:
  • World History
  • Formats Available:
  • VHS Tape
  • DVD