Since I enjoy visiting far flung destinations, my Russian travel experience was short on cities like Moscow and big on remote island chains like the Commander and Kuril Islands in Far East Russia.
One of those islands just happened to have some interesting Cold War artwork and murals lying about – 20+ years after the settlement had been abandoned.
Simushir Island is a remote island in the Kuril Islands, which was once home to a thriving community at Broutona Bay. Now, less than 20 years after it was abandoned it is back on the map and can be visited by intrepid travellers who venture to Far East Russia.
One thing that stood out while walking through the eerily quiet buildings was the art work found on walls, including murals, mostly all paying homage to the Soviet Era rule and importance of strength and might during the Cold War era. Here, propaganda seemed to run rampant.
In the Kuril Islands, the battle was, and still is, with Japan. These disputed islands remain a source of contention, claimed by both Russia and Japan. The international community largely keeps out of this controversy, but the US has acknowledged that they believe Japan is the rightful owner of the islands. That surely doesn’t make Russia happy.
Back to the artwork! From images of tanks to murals of Lenin and cosmonauts, this was one of those places that seems a bit frozen in time.
Lenin is prominent in this abandoned settlement. Not surprising really, as from what I gathered from the people at a couple of settlements on other islands in this far end of Russia, they feel somewhat forgotten by the current leadership back in Moscow. At least when Lenin was around, they had supplies and infrastructure and purpose.
After visiting Simushir Island, I couldn’t help but think that the few inhabited islands I visited would one day have a similar fate. I suppose only time will tell.