DATE=3/22/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=RUSSIA / ELECTION / LIFE IN SIBERIA NUMBER=5-45970 BYLINE=EVE CONANT DATELINE=RAZVEDCHIK, KEMEROVO CONTENT= PART THREE IN THREE PART SERIES VOICED AT: /// EDS: THIS IS THE THIRD OF THREE REPORTS FROM SIBERIA IN ADVANCE OF RUSSIA'S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SUNDAY, MARCH 26TH /// INTRO: The Siberian region of Kemerovo (KEM-er-ova) is at the heart of Russia's mining industry. But coal mines are closing and living standards have hit an all time low. In the final part of a series about Siberia, V-O-A Correspondent Eve Conant visited the mining village of Razvedchik where families say they have learned to rely on themselves, not the Kremlin, to survive. TEXT: The village of Razvedchik, which in Russian means "spy," is actually named for a team of geologists who came here three decades ago to research the region's coal deposits. The Pervomaisky mine looms in the distance over the small wooden cottages nestled together in this snowy field. On the other side of the village is a deep forest of tall spruce and pine trees dusted with snow. A building near the village store is covered with hand-written banners advertising itself as the village's voting station. But the miners, their wives and families who live here say they have little hope their lives will change much after presidential elections March 26th. The son of one of those first geologists is 41-year old Nikolai Zimini who has worked at the Pervomaiskaya mine for almost half his life. /// ZIMINI ACT ONE - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER TRANSLATION /// I'll just live, be patient. In general, we Russians are all patient. No other country is like this. They don't pay us for years and we're quiet while other people would be striking. /// END ACT /// Nikolai -- or Kolya as his family calls him -- says he and the other miners are afraid to strike because they will simply lose their jobs. Any illusions they once had that the Kremlin will come to their aid have long since disappeared. /// ZIMINI ACT TWO - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER TRANSLATION /// There is so much written in the newspapers -- who we need to vote for, which politicians have sold out, and so on. No one cares what the people really think. They just put whomever they want to in power. /// END ACT /// /// OPT /// Kolya and his wife Olya live in a small two-room cottage. Inside their kitchen is a long trench filled with seedlings. As soon as the snow outside melts -- and it is now more than one-and- a-half meters deep -- they will plant their garden. /// OPT // ACT HUSBAND AND WIFE TALKING - FADE UNDER /// /// OPT /// They finish each other's sentences to explain that here in Razvedchik, it does not matter who will be president. They say, "in the countryside, nothing will change." /// OPT /// Kolya says he cannot save money, that his salary is used up each month on food to feed the children and themselves. He says, "my two boys ask for apples and candy -- they want everything but we only have kopeks." /// OPT /// They laugh when asked how much his wife Olya earns as a cleaning woman at a nearby hospital. /// OPT // ACT - REACTION AND LAUGHING /// /// OPT /// The answer is 280 rubles, less than ten dollars each month. /// END OPT /// /// NAT SOUND WALKING IN SNOW - FADE UNDER /// The path to neighbor Ludmilla Krupina's house is filled so high with snow that a person walks above the fences that surround each cottage, the pointy wooden tips poking just above the packed, icy snow. /// OPT // ACT - DOGS BARKING / WALKING UP STAIRS AND OPENING DOOR /// /// OPT /// Ludmilla -- also in her 40's -- walks up to her porch and runs her hand above the door frame to find her house key. Kolya and Olya are visiting her. They say they all keep their keys outside, and that if anyone tried to rob them they would eventually be caught since everyone knows everyone anyway. /// OPT /// In the windowsills of her wooden cottage are more potted seedlings, warming in the sun in white plastic cups marked "peppers, Moldovan tomatoes, parsley and dill." /// OPT // KRUPINA ACT ONE - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER TRANSLATION /// We salt and pickle everything from our gardens. We can grow cabbage, carrots and potatoes-this is what we live on. /// END ACT /// /// OPT /// Everything she serves is homemade. One of the many treats here are pine nuts, which locals gather in the forest and then roast into handfuls of dark brown nuts smelling of spruce. /// END OPT /// /// SOUND POURING WATER /// Ludmilla prepares tea in her kitchen. She says she hopes the elections will bring change and that she will vote for Acting President Vladimir Putin. /// KRUPINA ACT TWO - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER TRANSLATION /// (Sighs) We hope Putin will fulfill our wishes, but we're afraid. This is how we voted for Yeltsin, with our souls and with hope. But it all turned out so bad. But I guess we have no other choice. Whether or not he'll do anything for us I don't know. Well, so what? If he can't, we'll wait four years for the next elections. But I won't vote to return to communism. /// END ACT /// "We are free now," she says. "But what has changed is that we don't expect the government to protect us -- we rely on ourselves." Kolya and Olga, who are drinking tea with her, nod in agreement as she continues. /// OPT // KRUPINA ACT THREE - IN RUSSIAN - FADE UNDER TRANSLATION /// It even seems like we have fewer friends. Before we would have tea and candies and visit each other almost every day. Now we don't have money for those little things. It costs money to have guests over, to open our table. But we won't give up. /// END ACT // END OPT /// It is almost 6 o'clock in the evening and Kolya gets up to leave for his shift at the coal mine. He will work until three in the morning and then come home to sleep. He throws on his boots, jacket, and fur hat and races out the door. The sun is setting, casting a pale pink, pink light over the cottages -- each covered in a meter or more of snow. The coal mine is just a short walk away. He says he will work the rest of his life there, and expects his two sons to do the same. "No one gets out of here," he says. (Signed) NEB/EC/JWH/KL 22-Mar-2000 10:31 AM EDT (22-Mar-2000 1531 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .