Tag Archives: Barentsburg

‘I WAS SURE MY COLLEAGUES HAD BEEN TAKEN BY THE AVALANCHE’: Large snowslide near Barentsburg on Monday misses members of snowmobiling group by meters

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A large avalanche 200 meters wide near Barentsburg on Monday afternoon apparently triggered by a snowmobiling group missed two people in the group by about 10 meters, according to officials and another member of the group who said he was certain his two friends had been killed.

The avalanche is the latest of several in popular spring travel areas in Svalbard and officials on Tuesday issued an alert waring of extreme danger in many of those areas Wednesday and Thursday.

SAME SAME, BUT DIFFERENT: Barentsburg and Pyramiden avoid layoffs and mining remains strong, but transit is harder and no one is vaccinated as they share Svalbard’s COVID-19 struggles

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Photo by Alena Kutsenko

There’s no layoffs (although hours and seasonal hires are being cut), but travel to/from their home countries of Russia and Ukraine is even more of a hassle than for their neighbors from mainland Norway. The economic situation is also somewhat better because they’re maintaining significant coal mining activity, but nobody’s been vaccinated yet.

Call it a classic case of “same same, but different” compared to Longyearbyen as Svalbard’s Russian settlements of Barentsburg and Pyramiden struggle with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and this week’s long list of new restrictions threatening to choke off much of the already subpar the spring and Easter tourism season.

FAREWELL TO A FAMOUS ‘FOX’: Кеша, a mythological cat in Svalbard despite a 1992 ban, dies after a long and legendary life in Barentsburg where he was ‘mistaken’ for an Arctic fox

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One of Svalbard’s most loved and yet battle-scarred longtime residents, whose too-good-to-be-true mythological existence made him world famous, has departed for the happy bird-hunting grounds in the sky.

Кеша (“Kesha” in non-Cyrillic letters), a legendary occupant of the Russian settlement of Barentsburg – who contrary to “common knowledge” was not the only cat in the archipelago nor officially classified as an Arctic fox to prevent his exile due to a 1992 ban on felines – died on Jan. 20 at roughly the age of 14, according to human residents there.

Guest column: The Soviet Handshake of Norway – Future dreams of an aspiring Arctic adventurer from the East meets past memories from the Kremlin

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(Author’s note: As the raging COVID-19 pandemic forces nations to shut their borders, tourism and employment in this Norwegian archipelago have taken a hard hit. With Norway opening its domestic borders as of June 1, there will be some respite but not enough. Tourism needs to be revived and spirits need to be raised for all those facing the heat in this sub-zero climate. This is where my effort goes: a diary as a native of India visiting the Russian settlement of Barentsburg in March of 2019.) 

“A HUGE PLUS AT THE NEW STARTING POINT”: Barentsburg tourism director states Svalbard’s “clean” status will be big draw if travel ban lifted by summer; 157 visitors in past week

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While Longyearbyen is grappling with catastrophic consequences of the coronavirus crisis and all but writing off tourism for the summer and possibly beyond, an optimistic outlook continues to be expressed in Barentsburg where the tourism director asserted this week Svalbard’s status as the only “clean” Arctic destination will eventually be a huge advantage.

“This will be a huge plus at the new starting point of the summer tourist season, which we are all preparing for,” wrote Timofey Rogozhin in a post on his Facebook page Tuesday. (Note: an elaboration by Rogozhin submitted to us in English is at the end of this article.) 

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES FOR SVALBARD FOR SUNDAY: Government’s Svalbard aid statement in English, Russian consul general discusses Barentsburg impacts and more

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This story will be updated throughout the day.

Svalbard remains free of officially diagnosed cases of the coronavirus as the global pandemic crisis nears the end of its second surreally quiet weekend in the archipelago, but government agencies aren’t idle as they continue to release information for the archipelago’s foreign residents and discuss the impacts with media in other countries with residents here. Meanwhile, life for researchers in Ny-Ålesund is “almost normal” as they continue a variety of projects and a New Zealand resident in the Arctic guiding program is grappling with issues related to a return-home declaration from her homeland.

HOW SVALBARD’S ‘OTHERS’ ARE FARING: Pretty much ‘normal’ at hysterically cool Bjørnøya film fest, two women self-isolating all winter at trappers’ hut, no layoffs in Barentsburg

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While 90 percent of Longyearbyen’s tourism employees are facing layoffs, all of those in Barentsburg and Pyramiden are busy and planning for the summer season. Life in the international research community of Ny-Ålesund continued normally with the obvious health precautions. Those on a research ship frozen in the ice far to the north are going about daily life normally, but anxious about the virus cutting off incoming staff and support.

Then there’s the tiny Bjørnøya Meteorological Station at the southern tip celebrating its annual film festival despite problems caused by “hysterically clear and fine weather” and black-market tickets. And two women well into nine months of “self-isolation” at a remote trapper’s hut who just celebrated a birthday and are blogging sympathies to those elsewhere following their adventures.

TWO KILLED IN AVALANCHE: Germans w/ Russian snowmobile tour group caught in snowslide on glacier about 20 km south of Barentsburg on Thursday afternoon

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Two Germans on a snowmobile trip were killed Thursday afternoon by an avalanche that hit a glacier at Fridtjofbreen, about 20 kilometers south of Barentsburg, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

CULTURAL SHAREITAGE: Norway and Russia may be in a new Cold War, but in Svalbard embracing differences take center stage

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Before the show there’s the trip to the grocery store. And it says a bellyful about the performances to come when the two neighboring communities visit each other.

Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of April 9, 2019

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Barentsburg less exposed to avalanches than Longyearbyen, but some buildings at risk
No buildings in Barentsburg need to be moved or demolished, but some – notably the Barentsburg Hotell – would not be built today in their current locations due to the exposure to avalanches, according to the first-ever assessment of the settlement by the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.