Keep us from death.

It’s a hard existence, they try to keep the frost at bay with candles but it creeps ever closer. The air is cold and stale.

In central Moscow stands a once hubristic building, adorned with decorative balconies and windows that at one time held un-broken glass. Its former beauty given way to decay, the elements encroach through its gapping windows and doors, frost crawling along the walls like a cancer spreading through the bones of its victim. This building is derelict, abandoned and forgotten.

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Deep in the cold, menacing bowels of the dereliction live people. They belong to the community of Moscow’s homeless. In this frightful place they try to survive, sheltered from the bitter streets; obscure from regular Muscovites going about their’ business.

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This is home for Dasha and Serezha. It’s a hard existence, they try to keep the frost at bay with candles but it creeps ever closer. The air is cold and stale.

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“We like to live like primeval hunters” explains Serezha. “We don’t want to be part of the social system. Every┬áday could be our last day”

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“I’m educated, a biologist, now I’m a writer and a poet,” he says.

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Dasha clings to her baby as though she grasps life itself. The baby is lifeless, her baby is a toy doll.

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Further along the hallway past the detritus and through a door sparkling in ice and frost, another couple, Lyudmila and Dmitry. The room is dingy, dank and desperate.

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Dmitry has been homeless for two years. “I fell from a platform and broke my back. I had medical treatment and then my money ran out. I had no place to live,” he said.

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The state does cater for the homeless, it provides shelters, warm food and clothes. They have had success with reducing the number of those living on the streets. There are also plenty of volunteer groups that help too, crucial during the long, biting winter months.

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However, people like Dmitry and Lyudmila prefer to fend for themselves, not confident in the state.

“I once stayed for a night in a state run shelter, you know what I got there? Fleas!” Dmitry explained.

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This unsightly, neglected and forgotten structure is a life line to people like Dmitry and Lyudmila and a home for Dasha and Serezha. Derelict and open to the elements, this shell represents resilience and normality to those that live within its dark, numbing innards.

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Obstinate in the face of a particularly harsh winter, with temperatures in Moscow reaching a low of -30. Those that live here, in this home for the homeless, are determined to survive. They have to.

  1. Very powerful Stuart. Feel so sorry for them. ­čśŽ

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  2. Powerful images mate, and a very sad situation well told.

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  3. Stu, great stuff. A side of Russia that is never shown and a demonstration that culturally we are not really that different after all.

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  4. Fantastic shots Stu, never even thought of the homeless in bitter cold countries like Russia before.

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  5. Eloquently written piece Stu. I could picture the scene before the images loaded up…and spot on they are too. Keep well.

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  6. Amazing work, in written story and picture. “The Edge of Humanity,” an online magazine would probably be interested in your work.

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    1. Thank you Anne, I follow them, maybe I should send them a message.

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  7. Stu, this is as heartbreaking as it is powerfully succinct. Your post comes straight to the point and does not mix words about the plight of the homeless in Russia. A problem that knows no nationality, homelessness is a problem that befalls all humanity. Your photos of the homeless in Russia bear that out with the stark reality which all homeless people face on a daily basis. It is a heartless and brutal life for so many. Excellent post.

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    1. Thank you so much. You are right, it’s global problem. Here in Russia it’s hard to find out exactly are homeless. Very sad indeed.

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      1. It truly is sad. I like your blog Stu, and I look forward to reading more of your post.

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      2. Thank you, some more coming soon, I’ve been off ill for the last few days, better now thankfully.

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      3. Glad you’re back on your feet and I look forward to seeing more of your work.

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  8. How sad and difficult life is for them. Wonderful post, and great photos.

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    1. Thank you, it is indeed very sad.

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  9. How terribly sad! Now I feel utterly sorry for my complaint about missing winter in Norway. Stunning, captivating images, Stuart.

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    1. Yes, its a very sad situation for them. It is a privilege to be able to tell their story. Thank you.

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  10. Well written. A touching reality. I really have nothing to complain about my life.

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    1. Thank you, it is sad and a story that sadly spans the globe.

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  11. I could feel the melancholy and the desperation through their story and the pictures have emphasized that intensity, as well. Thank you for sharing such stories. It’s good to know, not only the good side of every place we visit, but the reality and the desperation behind them as well.

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    1. It was sad, a story replicated all around the world too.

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