VALERY MELNIKOV
SPUTNIK


UNDERGOUND / GOTHAM CITY / AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT


14.05. bis 11.06. 2016

 

 

Underground

Ongoing conflict in Ukraine between separatists and the Ukrainian government army led the country to the full-scale hostilities.This series of photos was taken in Donbass in September of 2015. It depicts the last remaining residents of bombed out villages in the combat zone. During attacks, people hide in the basements of destroyed houses.Mainly, these are older men and women that have been left on their own. Some have decided to stay and fight to the end; others simply have nowhere to go. Many of their relatives have either left or died. As Sergei, a resident of the village of Veseloe, told me: “I never understood what peace was before, or how important it is. You can die at any moment here, but I’m not going anywhere.”

 

Against the Holy Spirit

“And what kind of person are you?” – A Doukhobor. – Why are you called doukhobor? Because God is a spirit, God is a word, God is a man. I praying and give my regards to God with the help of the spirit. That is why I’m a doukhobor.”

According to the Free Dictionary, doukhobor is a member of a religious sect originating in Russia in the 18th century, believing in the supreme authority of the inner voice, rejecting the establishment of churches, and opposing civil authority.

Due to the severe climate and difficulty with access Samtshe-Djavhetia region is called Georgian Siberia. The members of the Russian doukhobors were deported as they refused to serve the military duty while following the commandment «Thou shalt not kill». The doukhobors or so-called spirit fighters arose at the end of the 18th century in Tambov province and in Ukraine. Spiritfighting is a Christian-Protestant doctrine, which refuses the formalism of a church. The main religious symbols are bread, salt and water.

Communication with God is held under the guidance of the elders of the community in a special place – “The Orphans’ house” The pilgrims spent the first hard winter in the highland Djavkhetia in a land hollow “Terpenie” (Patience). More than 7000 people died of hunger and coldness then. The survived ones built 8 villages along the river Paravani. New villages were named as the spiritfighters’ settlements in Zaporozhie: Bogdanovka, Rodionivka, Efremovka, Tambovka, Kalinino, Orlovka and Gorelovka. Now only the last two are inhabited. The population of Gorelovka is 300 people; mostly senior ones and the majority of them are spiritfighters. It is one of the strongest communities where the world’s soulfighters’ relics are kept.

In Gorelovka, which is situated at an elevation of 2000 meters above the sea level, among the white mountain tops there are whitened houses with carved window shutters, well groomed gardens and palings. People with the typical Slavic appearance speak Russian. Gorelovo residents wear national clothing whish is passed from generation to generation. Every Sunday Morning Prayers takes place in the “Orphans’ House, though less and less people come there. There is no more than 30 people gather, says the local Tatiana Osipova. Less than 800 out of almost 7000 spiritfighters who lived here at the end of the 80s are left in Georgia. After the dissolution of the USSR many members of the community emigrated from Russia into Canada. The houses of the departing people are bought by Armenian migrants from the nearby villages who are bringing different way of life and thinking. Thought as Gorelovo residents are saying no matter what difficulties arise on their way, they will never abandon this place.

 

Gotham City

Batman wakes up when Lugansk city falls asleep. 'Batman' is the code sign of one of the most authoritative warlords. He and his people control the city of Luhansk during the nights. There is a curfew at night – there are neither cars nor people in the streets. The curfew starts at 23 p.m. and lasts till 6 a.m. The locals are forbidden to leave their houses at this time. In the darkness the cold fear forges the city and it seems like everything  is waiting for the dawn. The city of Luhansk is a strategically important place in south-eastern Ukraine.  It has been fully under the control of the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic since April of 2014. More than half the residents of the city have fled their homes since the beginning of the military conflict.