ALEXANDER ALFEEV
"Dikson can’t be estimated as an all-sufficient settlement"
I studied at the Arctic department of the Leningrad High Engineer Sea School named after the admiral S. O. Makarov, together with my friend whose family had been living on Dikson for a long time. After finishing, my friend went back home and I went with him because it didn't matter for me which northern town-settlement from the ten to choose.

From 1983 until 2002 I worked at the Dikson hydrographic base. During the first five years I lived in communal flats in the settlement, then in the new five-storeyd houses. My job was bound with expeditions. We went out of Dikson for about half a year, then for two months I went on holidays and vocations, so I spent about 3-4 months a year in the settlement. Those days I was mainly busy preparing for the next trips. The last 7-8 years there were considerably less expeditions so I started spending more time in the settlement.

A stamp to the 50th anniversary of Dikson.
It belongs to the series Arctic and Antarctic Research issued in 1965.


By the year 2002 when I left, the number of inhabitants had decreased a lot, but I can't say that the atmosphere in the settlement became worse. Of course, everyone saw the dying of the community, but it didn't affect the people adversely. Rather on the contrary, because the life conditions got noticeably better. For example, one of the biggest problems in 80s was lack of water in the houses of the whole settlement. In spring the water was delivered into the streets in the tanks and it was extremely uncomfortable to bring the water to the flats, especially onto the highest floors. In comparison with the 80s the supply with products became much better, however, everything became considerably more expensive. Well, the view of the settlement island has changed a lot, but it affects more the visitors or
the previous inhabitants. I must say, that everything I am telling about refers to the year 2002 and in part to the year 2010 when my wife worked in the North.
Dikson mustn't be taken as a settlement. People complete there some specific tasks. Initially it was built as a radio station and a base for the coaling the ships going by. There are no such needs any more and the tasks are minimal. In fact, the real profits brings the meteorological station only, which needs not more than about twenty people to support, that would be enough. The rest of the population is the service only. The huge mistake was the factual prohibition of tourism at the end of 90s, in spite of the fact that some time earlier it had been developed. The tourists base was on Dikson to the side of the North Earth and the pole. Some time ago we had a hope of building a pipeline to Dikson with the outcome to the Sea. But at that time another direction was chosen and now we have even less perspectives in this relation. So the reduction of the settlement population is absolutely regular and will probably continue.
---------
I don't believe that the life in the extreme North is of full value (I'm not talking about the native inhabitants, but even they have never lived in the region of Dikson).
______
The last time we visited the settlement was in December. The local people very often talked about Dikson with sadness and even pain, they mentioned the devastation in the whole and lack of such simple things as a skating rink or a football ground, which used to be there in the early days and made the cultural life in the settlement richer. They also said that people are not the same any more. Of course that meant that not the same people are from another epoch. I don't know about Krasnoyarsk, but in my city the quantity of the skating rinks and football grounds has reduced by a huge number. Besides they are often not used even where they are attempted to get reconstructed. They were used at the time when there were no televisions and no Internet. And taking into account that the population on Dikson has reduced and the keeping the those rinks and play-grounds cost a lot, their absence is clear.

I don't believe that the life in the extreme North is of full value
(I'm not talking about the native inhabitants, but even they have never lived in the region of Dikson). Of course, they can and must organize the normal work conditions, which never replace the absence of trees, the warm sun and water. It is especially notable when you see small children in summer wearing boots and warm jackets, running in melt mud instead of swimming, or sitting on the coast of the sunny beach, or running on green grass. People on Dikson understood that, that is why 80-90 per sent of the workers didn't stay there too long. Dikson was always a temporary working place. In my opinion, people don't have to live there just as in other places, from a medicine point of view it is unhealthy. The climate, the life conditions, for example, the short time of being on the air, certainly, influence the person's health not of the good side. The fact that I can't perceive well the temperatures higher than +20 degrees is also the consequence of the long staying in the North.
The condition of the Arctic today is rather lamentable enough, but it is the modern reality. What did the Arctic attract people during the previous years with? Navigation, export of resources and import of supplies. Arctic has no other real signification. Some time went by and the situation with resources and methods of their transporting has changed – nobody, except of Norilsk and Yamal, needs indeed the northern coal, gas and everything else. Considering the subsequent lowering of the prices and the development of new mining technologies in other places, the situation will just get aggravated. Accordingly, the necessity in navigation is falling off and by its new technical level the necessity in meteorological, hydrographical, polar aviation and sea port supports falls off too. Military and border garrisons in the rear of the country, thousand kilometers away from the boards, were never used according to their purposes at all. Objectively, there is no need to keep so many people in the Arctic now. The work at the polar stations which was earlier completed by people, is done automatically today. Whereas the ice exploring planes were needed to fly earlier, satellites manage their tasks perfectly today. Where tens of lighthouses were built along the Northen Sea way, the navigation satellites work today. Certainly, I exaggerate
the details, but the general direction is that. It is like an unavoidable reduction of number of the villages by development
of industrial agriculture.
---------
What did the Arctic attract people during the previous years with? Navigation, export of resources and import of supplies.
_______
I will never forget my feeling of the Arctic I became during one of my expeditions. We were three people going on ice by a cross-country vehicle five kilometers from the bank, not far from the cape Chelyuskin. As I can remember, it was the end of April, -20 degrees and the posh sunny windless weather. I was going on the head of the vehicle enjoying the views around: the white snow, the snow-white mountains on the coast, the blue sky and the bright sun. The snow was hard and we were going fast on the thin crust of ice. I got a feeling that I was the owner of the Earth. Everything was easy and simple, we had already been racing for many kilometers and every moment could turn anywhere and theoretically we could reach any mountain and we could do anything we would only wish. I felt happy about that feeling and the view around. But suddenly I had an idea that all that was very unreliable and doubtful. That would be enough if the cross-country vehicle broke down. Let us suppose, the radiator could just break through, and we would face a very miserable situation: the nearest people would be ten kilometers away, no food, too far away for the radio communication. And if the snowstorm began at that moment, the question of our survival would be controversial. We, "the owners of the Earth" would suddenly become dependent on very unsafe things. Besides, the surrounding Earth with its mountains, sea, tundra, ice, wouldn't even notice our disastrous state. The obviousness, that a person individually is a small grain of sand in comparison with the Earth and with the Arctic, was displayed to me very brightly. I remember that feeling very well,
by the way, it was confirmed many times later.

I like the North. I have been in different countries of the world, but answering the question about the brightest impressions I would first of all remember about the North. After all, people are attached to the brightest impressions in their lives. And the life in the extreme North is extreme, I mean it differs from some routine life in other places, so people always remember about it. Although, the most of them they don't want to return to it in the reality.
Choose a story
Share your story about Dikson