Stephen M. Bland
Freelance Journalist, Award-Winning Author, Travel Writer, Researcher and Editor specialising in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
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A marine regimental church built on the banks of the Kryukov Canal, the Nikolsky Naval Cathedral contains a plethora of memorials to the crews of sunken Soviet submarines.
Part of the permanent collection in the Hermitage, the Peacock Clock - designed by James Cox and acquired by Catherine the Great in 1781 - features three life-sized automated mechanical birds.
Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, built on the spot where Tsar Alexander II was blown up by the People's Will movement in 1881.
In the Summer Gardens of Peter the Great, photobombed by a statue.
Part of the Moscow Kremlin, the Cathedral of the Annunciation was built between 1484-1489 on the site of older churches. Originally it functioned as the private chapel of the Moscowvite Tsars.
Street performance Moscow style. Sign reads "For Milk".
Intercession or St.Basil's Cathedral on Red Square at dusk. St. Basil was a barefoot holy fool who predicted Ivan the Terrible's damnation.
Not fit for the wall of heroes in Red Square, Khrushchev resides in the Novodevichy Cemetery, by the convent where Peter the Great imprisoned his sister, Sofia, the heir apparent. The black and white blocks symbolize his good and bad sides at war with each other.
Church on the Blood, built on the site where the last Tsar and his family were put to death in the basement of a local engineer's house.
Matryoshka graffiti on the banks of the Iset River.
Anton Chekhov Monument. 'Tomsk isn’t worth a brass nickel,' Chekhov wrote in 1890, 'an incredibly boring city… full of drunks.' In response the city erected this statue, the base of which reads 'Chekhov as seen through the eyes of a drunken peasant, lying in a ditch.'
Old wooden houses in Tomsk, a vibrant student town on the West Siberian Plain.
The purpose built city of Novosibirsk, capital of Siberia and third largest city in Russia has a reputation for being drab. Featured here is a monument to the city's first traffic light, which stands in front of rows of crumbling housing blocks.
An upper class Russian movement calling for radical social change, the Decembrist Rebellion of 1825 collapsed into disarray. Soon rounded up, many conspirators saw their death sentences commuted to hard labour, serving 12-15 years in chain gangs before being allowed to settle in Irkutsk. The mansions of Volkonsky & would-be dictator, Prince Trubetskoy are still to be found in town.
Buryat shaman perform a ceremony on the bluff above Maloe More. Dotted with ribbon-festooned totems, to the Buryat Lake Baikal is a holy place.
Frequented by Baikal Seals, though estimated on their numbers vary as pollution increases.
Discarded piles of litter at the abandoned gulag fish factory.
In a ship graveyard, children tossed empty vodka bottles at each other for entertainment.
In the Buryat capital of Ulan Ude, Siberia, is the biggest Lenin head in the world, standing ten metres tall. Note the tiny people at the base who've just escaped from his nostrils.
Permission to build the original datsan at the centre of Buryat Buddhism, Ivolginsk, Siberia, was granted by Stalin. In the large red temple lurks the waxy form of the 12th Khambo Lama, who hasn't decayed despite dying some eighty years ago.
All images copyright Stephen M. Bland