Valentina, selling bread on the street in Moscow. A military widow, her husband was a former officer in the Soviet border army in Uzbekistan. When it gained independence from the Soviet Union, Valentina lost the free housing she had been guaranteed after the death of her husband. She came to Moscow to seek help and shelter from relatives. She can not obtain her own apartment in Moscow even though she is the widow of an officer because she has no residency permit in the capital. This situation was repeated many times in Russia as the former Soviet Republics pressured ethnic Russians to leave. The severe housing shortage across Russia (except for those with enough money to buy privatised flats) meant that these internal refugees were dependent on relatives or become homeless. Valentina baked and sold bread to supplement her meagre pension.

From the series 'Russian Portraits', photos and interviews with ordinary Russians as their country stood at an ideological crossroads during presidential elections in 1996. The two main candidates were Boris Yeltsin, president of Russia, who was pursuing free market reforms after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Communist Party leader Gennadiy Zyuganov, who wanted to turn the clock back to more state control. Yeltsin went on to win with the backing of newly privatised media owned by Russia's rising class of businessmen and oligarchs.

Object Name
Robert Wallis/Panos Pictures
Max size
High Resolution
4331 x 4331 pixels
36.67 x 36.67 cm (300 dpi)
14.44 x 14.44 inch (300 dpi)
8.5 MB size on disk
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