KARGOPOL, NORTH RUSSIA: "There was a leader called Brezhnev - the period was great," said the 78-year old retired engineer (left) about Russia's recent history. He was fishing for pleasure by the river around sunset time as he spoke about the late and post Soviet periods, a friend popping by at one point to see what the caught. Although "cars were a luxury" during the Brezhnev years, food was ecologically sound and people could earn a salary that enabled them to take a vacation, he said. He said salaries are low in the region and many people just get by, pausing to ask rhetorically how salaries could be so low in a country so rich in natural resources.
I popped into a Moscow branch of Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, to withdraw some money on a weekend. The branch was closed, but the room with the ATMs and payment terminals was operating of course. As it was located in the center, people walked in and out every minute. In between two of the payment terminals, a homeless woman, with two casts around her legs, dozed off, her cart with some possessions behind her.