Thursday, 25 October 2012


Yesterday I went for a walk in the Uralmash district of Yekaterinburg. This part of town is famous for its old buildings, some of which have been constructed by German prisoners during the late 1940s.

In a courtyard, some kids were having fun.

 A sad monkey was watching them from his place on a balcony.

As everywhere in Russia, babushki were waiting for somebody to buy their pickled vegetables.

Some of the street scenes looked a bit like Chekhov.


Others more like Dostoyevsky.

James Bond was also present.

Then I met a couple of workers who were making sure that the city heating system was in good shape before the start of the winter.

Because the approaching cold could already be felt.

The district is called "Uralmash" after the big machine building factory which is situated just south of it:

In front of the factory is a statue of the old revolutionary Sergo Ordzhonikidze, who proudly presents this achivement of Soviet industry to curious passers-by.

During Soviet times, the factory had received a whole range of decorations:

When I arrived at the gates, it was already evening, and the workers were about to leave.

After watching them for a while, I also decided to go home, as it was getting dark and cold.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Leaning Tower of Nevyansk

Autumn is a nice time to travel through the Ural mountains. Everything is full of colours.

 Knowing that a harsh winter is soon going to come, squirrels are busily completing their supplies.

Small village streets lie peacefully in the afternoon sun.

An old truck is enjoying his retirement...

...while in a garden across the street, laundry and the dishes are put outside to dry. 


 If you come to the little town of Nevyansk, the houses smile at you.

At the central square, a monument reminds one of times past.

The memorial for the soldiers killed in WW II is also just a few steps away.

 Nevyansk is famous for its clocktower.

Because it is leaning to the side.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Last week, we went to visit a factory in Alapayevsk. Alapayevsk is a Russian town 140 north of Yekaterinburg, where I'm currently working as visiting lecturer at Ural State University.

Along the road, people were selling large quantities of mushrooms.

From time to time, one could see golden cupolas blinking through the colourful trees...

...while every now and then, a heavy lorry came out of the forest.

In Alapayevsk, we were supposed to meet one of the directors of the company "Stroidormash", a manufacturer of specialized trucks.

My friends were hoping to sell some special equipment to the firm, while I wanted to make an interview with the director.

So in we went. 

The meeting lasted for 5 hours and was very interesting. It was the first time I assisted to a Russian business negotiation. 

During my interview, I asked the director about the main problems the company was facing. By far the biggest problem, he said, is to find qualified engineers. He deplored that the quality of technical students who finish university, even in a center of higher education such as Yekaterinburg, is very low. Sometimes, they are forced to hire pensioneers who have long stopped working to keep their factory running.

When I asked him about the problem of corporate raiding (i.e. companies being stolen from their legitimate owners by criminal groups, a subject I've been studying for the last 2 years), he did not want to go into details. But he said that his firm had suffered substantially during the last 10 years ("they simply didn't let us work"). However, since a new law about raiding had been passed by president Medvedev in 2010, the situation had become much better.

When the meeting was over, it was already getting dark, so that the heavy lorries on the road back to Yekaterinburg had already switched on their lights.