News & Events

Stay up to date on what’s happening in Altai and at The Altai Project.

Using libel laws to suppress dissent in Altai

Sergei Mikhailov has been VERY outspoken in his criticisms of corruption and the government’s handling of the January 2009 helicopter crash in Altai. The government, Berdnikov in particular, is not happy.

Horses and tires

I took this picture in 2005. We were on a long road trip, making site visits with partners, and this picture was taken somewhere in eastern Altai Krai. The sign says “Tire Repair…Balancing.” Horses are an essential mode of transportation across much of Siberia. In Altai, the landscape is often remote and mountainous, and there…

Vladimir Ryzhkov on Altai

I haven’t had the resources to write much in recent weeks, so I thought I’d share one of Vladimir Ryzhkov’s recent commentaries on Altai. Here he writes of life in the Chulyshman Valley – one of the places I had really been hoping to visit in my July trip, but was unable to get there because…

Camera-trapping along the Argut River

Sergei Spitsyn, a long-time partner and ranger at Altaisky Strict Nature Reserve, just returned from an expedition along the lower and middle Argut River. With the participation of two residents from the nearby village of Inegen, he had set camera traps in likely locations to learn more about what animals still inhabit the area. The…

Last day on the Lake

The morning started off overcast, but settled on partly sunny during breakfast. Seven of us set out from Yailyu for a 6 kilometer hike to the top of the nearest ridge. We were accompanied by two rangers, one armed with a rifle to protect us from bears. Yailyu villages and zapovednik staff have a complicated…

Lake Teletskoye

Up and down Lake Teletskoye

Lake Teletskoye is the largest lake in Altai Republic (easily). It is a rift lake, created by seismic forces. That’s obvious when you see it, because there are cliffs along parts of the shoreline, and 90% of the shoreline we’ve seen so far is very, very steep. It is very deep, and its waters (mostly glacial…

Artybash onto Lake Teletskoye

I can hardly believe that this trip is going by so quickly! Must be all the sleep I’m getting now that the jet lag has passed. Well, that and the fact that we’ve been covering so much ground and meeting so many interesting people. After a breakfast of noodle cooked in slightly sweet (powdered) milk…

On the road to Artybash

In the ail this morning we all shared a last breakfast consisting of buckwheat kasha, chunks of beef in a gravy, bread, butter, freshly harvested honey, and tea. It has been a very meat and bread-product intensive few days. Make that a week at least. I like my meat, but beef or lamb thrice daily…

Exploring the Karakol Valley

It rained softly on the yurt’s roof all night long, and luckily I didn’t notice the small, quiet drip onto the foot of my bed until morning. After breakfast, we piled into the Gazelle van and slip and skidded in the mud back to the main packed gravel road. Danil led us on a tour…

Sacred Karakol Valley

After breakfast and a few goodbyes on the morning of the 27th, we set forth on the first leg of our “West-East Transect” excursion. Our group of twelve (nine visitors and an interpreter, leader, and driver) piled into a Gazelle – the equivalent of a large American minivan, but without the comforts. This vehicle was…

Traditional Russian singers in Ust-Koksa

Old Believers, village life, etc.

After breakfast yesterday, we all piled into the bus and drove 20 minutes east down the valley, crossing over the Katun River and into the village of Verkhniy Uimon (oo-ee-mon’). I’ve been here several times, but it’s always worth another visit. It was settled 300-odd years ago by Russian Orthodox “Old Believers” fleeing repression in…

Miscellaneous Altai commentary…

Yesterday’s meetings did indeed devolve into discussions, but I missed almost all of it. Well, with the exception of an early brainstorming session about determining the geography of climate change adaptation and a “mega-corridor” for wildlife. Considering that we were discussing the Altai-Sayan ecoregion here in south-central Russia, western Mongolia, China’s Xinjiang Province, and far…

More Ust-Koksa

During an overly technical set of presentations yesterday afternoon, I took the opportunity to slip out for a walk and talk with a colleague. We set out on the rickety wire suspension footbridge across the Koksa River adjacent to our hotel. I’ve never been fond of these sorts of bridges, the way they bounce and…

In which I finally reach Altai…

When I reach Altai following the visa debacle, the actual work of the trip begins. In overview, my trip has a number of phases and goals. Overall, I am hoping to meet with as many conservation folk as I can, renewing contact with existing colleagues and cultivating new relationships as well. The first part of…

Illegal Hunting Case Reopened After Huff

Illegal Hunting Case Reopened After Huff 12 November 2009, By Maria Antonova Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin reopened an investigation Wednesday into whether charges should be filed against survivors of a party of government officials who were illegally hunting endangered sheep when their helicopter crashed in January. Bastrykin’s announcement came as an outcry grew over his…

2009 Natural Building Intensive

In 2009 Earth Island Institute received a grant from the Trust for Mutual Understanding for The Altai Project’s Natural Building Intensive to be conducted in the San Francisco Bay Area. Thanks to this grant we were able to bring Russian architects to the United States in order to deepen their understanding and expertise in natural…

Interesting op-ed on ethnic autonomies in Russia

Existing Federal System Said a Threat to Rights of All Russia’s Citizens 05 May 2009 By Paul Goble / Special to The Moscow Times The existing system of ethnic autonomies in the Russian Federation — including both republics, such as Tatarstan, and autonomous districts, such as Chukotka — “violates the civil rights” of all Russian…

Moscow Times: Prosecutors Investigate Altai Hunt

Prosecutors Investigate Altai Hunt 06 May 2009/The Moscow Times Prosecutors said Tuesday that they have opened an investigation into senior federal and regional officials purportedly hunting illegally from a helicopter in January when the aircraft crashed in the Altai region, killing seven. The four survivors of the Jan. 9 crash, in which the Kremlin’s envoy…

Rosprirodnadzor finally acts on the helicopter crash…sort of

It looks like we finally have a bit of action by the federal government on the helicopter crash/poaching incident, albeit not all we could have hoped for. I don’t have time for lengthy exact translation today – maybe the Moscow Times will help us out overnight. Quick rundown/rough translation of the first article below my…

2008 Straw Bale Building Project in Bobrovka, Altai Krai

In August 2008 we saw ourselves back on the plane to Siberia. This was our second trip as a group of builders and teachers to this far and exotic place we now consider our most remote home away from home. Paul Koppana (Crestone, CO), Cindy Smith (Durango, CO) and myself, Jeff Ruppert (McKinleyville, CA) were…

Altai in the news today!

The Chicago Tribune ran a story today on the small but thriving maral deer horn industry in Altai. While I’m not a huge fan of the stuff myself (it’s mostly aimed at men), I recognize that it’s a reasonable industry for people in the region. It’s only major downside (that I can think of) is that…

Kalbak Tash deer hunting petroglyph

Ongudai to Chui-Oozy (isn’t that a great word?)

(It means “at the mouth of the Chuya River”) On what we thought was our last day in the Karakol Valley, we woke up to warm sunshine. Very exciting after all that rain. We didn’t really have time to get out and enjoy the morning, b/c we were expecting several folks to arrive for a…

Ongudai

We had a pleasant, safe (read “reasonable speed”) trip to Ongudai. We were a bit stressed out, b/c we were trying to meet up with the film crew and they kept changing their schedule such that they were ahead of us. At this point, we could catch up with them IF they didn’t set out…

Chemal and onward

Despite attempts by a shady cab driver to take advantage of us, we paid a fair price for a hair-raisingly fast taxi ride to Chemal, about an hour from Gorno-Altaisk. Chemal is, as always, stunningly beautiful but is more and more built up. It really does look like Switzerland, albeit with smaller mountains. It has…

Addendum

I forgot to mention that on our red-eye flight from Moscow to Barnaul we sat across the aisle from a group of four men traveling together. It seems that three of them had traveled from Barnaul to accompany the fourth home from Moscow. It seems he had recently been released from prison. Note: Russian airplanes…

Back in Altai

Our late and complex arrival at an amazingly bad hotel in Gorno-Altaisk prompts me to catch up on the travel diary…but first a recap of the initial days. We arrived in Barnaul at 5am Saturday morning only somewhat haggard and sleep-deprived. A’s friend and architect colleague Lena N (and her stodgy but friendly boss) met…

Jennifer joins The Altai Project

Since leaving my job at PE last summer, I’ve transitioned smoothly into a variety of consulting activities. Among other brief projects, I’ve interpreted for a visiting group of public health specialists (Sep 06) and organized and co-executed (and interpreted during) another exchange for Russian environmental types in December. I’ve taken on a part-time position with…

Memory Lane – “Learning to Cook Po-Russki

This little vignette is going to be published in the forthcoming Bryn Mawr College Alumnae Cookbook. Not exactly sure of the title though… I learned how to cook in Moscow. In the spring of 1992, immediately after the break-up of the Soviet Union, I was living in a run-down 15-story dormitory with 13 other American…

Renewable energy – Altai, Russia to San Francisco!

Here’s my report from a recent Pacific Environment event that I planned and executed. You’ll see that I don’t get much in the way of a mention, but that’s mainly because I did almost all the interpreting and all the running around. It was a ton of fun and I learned a lot too! Alternative…

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