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قديم 2019-08-16, 09:59 AM
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افتراضي In the Baltic states, many people are stuck in Khrushchev-era flats

IN THE BALTIC STATES, Soviet-era apartments have taken on a gritty glamour. In Lithuania, Instagrammers hunt down Fabijoniskes, the neighbourhood where a recent television series about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was filmed (see picture). In Estonia and Latvia, they form a backdrop to art shows and hip-hop videos. Nicknamed khrushchyovka (after Nikita Khrushchev), these uniform blocks of prefabricated panels were built to house workers across the Soviet Union from the 1960s onwards.

Many were meant to last no more than 30 years. Yet in the Baltic states —where 68% of people live in apartments, the highest level in Europe—many people still call them home. Living inside history is less appealing than looking at it, alas. For, like the Soviet Union itself, they are drab, joyless places.



For one thing, they are poorly insulated and expensive to heat. In Lithuania, for example, heating a two-bedroom apartment in the coldest months can cost 20% of the average salary. Soviet districts are generally occupied by the elderly and the hard-up, who are least able to bear the cost. Most also depend on centralised district heating, with no option to disconnect or change providers. In the winter, bitter inter-apartment battles are fought over the thermostat.

It’s not just chilly residents who need...
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