In 2004 Chechens took siege of a Beslan school and killed and injured up to 1.000 people. There are about 1 million street kids in Moscow, infant death in Armenia is 36 to every 1.000 (in Scandinavia it’s 4) and procreating close to Chernobyl is risky for the next 3 million years. No wonder parents are grabbing their kids and getting the hell out. Going from one of the scariest places in the world to one of the safest would take the homesickness out of most kids, but not if you’re a native of the old Soviet Union.
Photographer: Anders Kylberg
Stylist: Lisa Sundström/LINKDetails Thanks to Top Dance Studio and the Sonja Kovalevsky School, both in Stockholm.
Blouse by Whyred, jeans by Rock & Republic, shoes by Top Shop
18, Armenia:I will never forget my roots. Armenian traditions are subtler. In Sweden a guy and a girl can meet and they’ll fool around, people won’t care. In Armenia, if you talk to a guy, you’re a couple. But I don’t miss my friends. They totally betrayed me. I introduced them to this new girl and then they all turned on me, they wanted to hit me. I think she must have been jealous because she thought I was pretty or something, but I don’t even know what she told them. And there was no Salsa practice in Armenia, but there is here!
Shirt by Raf Simons, jeans, model’s own
, 13, Ukraine: I left Ukraine when I was one. I was adopted and I haven’t been back since, but I’m going back to Ukraine for the first time really soon. My parents are taking me, and we’re going to go search for my biological parents. I know Ukraine is beautiful and whenever I think about it I hope that I’ll find my biological parents, and that they’re still alive.
Top by H&M, shorts by Whyred, shoes by Wedins
, 17, Ukraine: I didn’t appreciate it when I lived there, but since I moved away I miss the atmosphere in Ukraine. It’s more disciplined. And you know how it is when you’re not supposed do something? It will make you want to do it even more. So the kids would run away from school and sneak into bars and have fun. I’d take a Ukraine party over a Swedish party ANY day. At a Ukraine party there would be lots of drinks, BIG bottles, and there would be lots of cigarettes—a big pack is only like a dollar. They’re just great parties.
Blouse by See by Chloé, jeans by Blue Cult/Skindeep
Julia, 13, Russia: My dad is still in Russia because he couldn’t get a residence permit. I can’t wait to get to go see him, I think I will soon, maybe in just a month. But right now I’m trying to find an agency so I can work as a model, like Anastasia. And I don’t want to live in Russia. I want to live in Hollywood or Miami.
Blouse by See by Chloé, necklace by Cecilia Steiner, jeans by Whyred, shoes model’s own
, 16, Russia: When I lived in Russia I used to fight a lot in the day-care centre. There were a lot of mean kids there, and they’d threaten they’d set the dog on you and stuff. But I was pretty strong, so if someone hit me I’d hit them back. When we got to Sweden my dad had to say, “You’re in a new country now, so you have to chill out.” Sweden is like that, nobody is high or low, everyone’s the same.
Maria, dress by Sass & Bide, T-shirt by Acne, socks by Falke. Jana, top by Miu Miu, skirt by Tommy Hilfiger, socks, model’s own
, 13, Latvia: I left Latvia five months ago and I miss my friend the most. I liked school more in Latvia, but I like the candy in Sweden. I like Aladdin chocolate gift boxes the most.
, 13, Russia: I miss everything about Russia. I don’t like the way kids talk to the teachers in Sweden, that they’ll go “Hey you!” In Russia people are courteous and say “Sir.” And once there were these Swedish guys on MySpace who said they wouldn’t be my friend because I was Russian, but that was just once. On the other hand boys in Russia drink a lot.