Map of route

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Far Eastern Military Towns in Race to Disappear

Yasnaya | 6 December 2012 | Issue 5030

The swimming facility in the military town of Yasnaya was closed in the 1990s, but after the army pulled out last year, the doors to the sports complex were smashed in, the colorful notice boards were torn down and the empty pool began to fill up with garbage.

Chinese Thirst Drives Illegal Logging in Russia's Far East

Petrovsk-Zabaikalsk | 5 December 2012 | Issue 5029

About nine o'clock in the evening on Feb. 12 seven years ago, Vladimir Baranov was killed by gunmen on the doorstep of his house in the fatal culmination of a dispute with illegal loggers.

Another Glimpse

Chita | 28 November 2012 | Issue 5024

My train arrived in Chita at about 7:30 a.m., and I was checked into my hotel by shortly after 8. Half an hour later, as I was dozing, two men knocked at my door.

A Glimpse of China, and the FSB

Zabaikalsk | 27 November 2012 | Issue 5022

About 70 percent of Russia's trade with China crosses the border at Zabaikalsk.


Petrovsk-Zabaikalsk | 25 November 2012 | Issue 5021

Like the Zabaikalsk region as a whole, Petrovsk-Zabaikalsk suffers from a slow exodus of people. The town's population has halved in the past 10 years.

Logging Country

Petrovsk-Zabaikalsk | 24 November 2012 | Issue 5020

At about 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, I was woken by screams and moans from the next-door room.

Into the Steppe

South of Chita | 23 November 2012 | Issue 5020

Today began with a bloody hare and ended with a roomful of armed men.

Oh, For an Interview

Chita | 22 November 2012 | Issue 5020

When planning my trip to the Chinese border, I decided that it would be worthwhile to try to speak to the governors of all the regions I would be passing through.

Chita's Chinese Market

Chita | 21 November 2012 | Issue 5019

After a bad night on a lumpy bed and a struggle to get up at what would be 2 a.m. Moscow time, I couldn't stomach the watery breakfast of pale, congealed eggs — a so-called "omelet." The cold pancakes with fluorescent yellow jam, though, were edible. In the afternoon I paid a visit to the city's markets.

First Impressions of Chita

Chita | 20 November 2012 | Issue 5018

This is the first blog entry of many I'll be making as I travel along the Russian side of the Russia-China border over the next four weeks, beginning in Chita and ending in Vladivostok. The main aim is to gauge the Chinese presence in Russia, the economic relationship between the two countries and some of the issues facing Russia's Far East.