Sergei Stroitelev

Photographer
  
Sologubovka
Location: Chisinau
Nationality: Russian
Biography: I am a freelance photographer and visual artist based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia working with National Geographic Russia, VICE UK/USA, De Volkskrant, Takie Dela, Meduza, Novaya Gazeta, others. My photographic practice primarily focuses on the... MORE
Public Story
Sologubovka
Copyright Sergei Stroitelev 2022
Updated Apr 2022
50 kilometers from St. Petersburg (Russia), in the middle of an empty field, next to the cemetery, there is the Sologubovka Orthodox rehabilitation center, where about 30 drug addicts undergo 12-step rehabilitation (an addiction introspection program developed in the 1930s).

I have been aware that St. Petersburg ranks first in Russia in terms of the number of crimes related to drug trafficking. According to various sources, more than 300 thousand drug addicts live in the city - this is a huge number. Heroin and desomorphine are a thing of the past as remnants of the 90s and early 2000s. Their place was taken by spices and salt - synthetic drugs sold via the Internet and causing severe addiction. For a long-term drug addict, subject to further use, there are two ways - to die or go to jail, but some are trying to get out of this nightmare through long and hard rehabiliation which requires all their efforts.

After lunch, the guys get dressed and go to obediences - someone cleans the barn on a neighboring farm, someone chop wood, someone cooks. I saw sadness and loss in their eyes especially for those who came recently. Dissatisfied, used only to lie and hate every minute, they work in the cold in hope that tomorrow it is going to be a little bit easier for them.

In the evening residents pray inside the temple located next to the main hous - they bow their heads, again lost in their thoughts. Not all of them are believers, and not everyone knows prayers by heart, some even hold atheistic views. The main thing for them is not religion but the feeling of a common problem that unites them, and the support of other brothers, as they call each other. They have left one god - drugs - and are trying to find another, something more important in their lives. After prayer, the residents of Sologubovka talk in groups about difficulties and fears, trying to identify their feelings - it's easier to fight with enemies when you know it. And then they disperse to the cells, which are located in the basement, at the level of the graves - the rural cemetery can be seen from the window as a reminder of a possible outcome.


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