(Jesus Christ…. This is disturbing. Westerners have no freaking idea about the dark depths of Russian nihilism. They have no idea what they’re dealing with.)
This is a story about the Soviet man. It’s about our compatriots and our countrymen, and our brothers and our sisters. It is a story about the way of life in Siberia. It’s about the moral code of the Builder of Communism.
In 1979, a river in a Siberian town began exposing a mass grave.
Then from Tomsk came new orders containing an interesting, ingenious engineering solution. Up the Ob, they dispatched two powerful tugboats and sent them right up to the riverbank, where there were tied with ropes to the shore, facing the ships away from the land. Then they set their engines on full throttle. The waves from the ships’ propellers began to erode the cliff, and bodies started falling into the water, where most of them were cut to pieces by the same propellers. The crew working these tugboats was made up of ordinary civilians. Nobody selected these men specifically for this task. Nobody switched the crew.
The people of Kolpashevo watched the whole operation with interest. No one protested.
Then it turned out that some of the bodies had washed away downstream, escaping the propellers. The mummified corpses managed quite well in the water, floating not sinking. So down the river they stationed a row of motorboats, where people sat with fishing hooks. Their job was to catch the bodies in the water. These people were volunteers, recruited from the local male population: laborers, public servants, and the so-called workers’ intelligentsia. A barge loaded with scrap metal from a nearby factory came up to the boats. The men were to tie pieces of scrap metal wire to the bodies they caught and then sink them in the deepest part of the river. This work went on for several days.
The people of Kolpashevo kept watching the tugboats and their propellers thrashing in the water. The tugboats had to be refueled with diesel regularly: all together, each ship burned through about 60 tons of fuel. Nobody was particularly surprised or outraged.
The last team—also composed of local volunteers—worked a bit farther downstream: people on motorboats rounded the shores, collecting the bodies that slipped through the row of boats higher up the river. Some of these remains they buried on shore (in unmarked graves), but more often they buried them in the river, smashing the bones with their oars, or sinking the bones by tying them to stones. This cleanup continued almost until the end of the summer.
Life in Kolpashevo that summer, generally speaking, was calm. It was like it always was. And that’s the story.
. . . . On the banks of the Ob River, directly across from Lenin Street in the center of Kolpashevo, to this day there is still a long triangular cavity preserved in the sandbank. For some reason, the river doesn’t wash it away.