Siberia's Most Depressing Town Is Actually Quite Nice

By Christian Belgaux

Semipalatinsk, or “Semey,” as it was recently renamed, is a town in Kazakh Siberia so desolate that being sentenced to exile there was thought to be one of the cruelest penalties the Soviet Union could dole out. It was considered such a shitty place, in fact, that in 1949 the town became the main testing site for the regime's nuclear weapons. Doesn't it sound lovely?

Nowadays, it sort of is. This sleepy stopover on the Trans-Siberian railway now boasts an art museum, a 4-D mini-cinema, a Lenin sculpture park, and tons of vodka and beautiful girls. Check out the holiday snaps I got while hanging out there of my own volition.

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