Karaganda - back in USSR.

Being established mid-nineteenth century as industrial area, Karaganda remains very different from the rest of Kazakhstan. Once second biggest and second developed city of Soviet Kazakhstan, Karaganda still remains a major center for business, sports, culture, and education. Industry is very diverse, gold, coal, uranium, marble, granite, steel and many other minerals are produced here. People in Karaganda are usually very well educated, intelligent and highly skilled. Many famous people of USSR, post-soviet Russia and Kazakhstan derive from Karaganda. Here we can visit former camp for political prisoners, training coal mine, horse breeding farm, anti-missile test site, grave of Genghiz-khan’s first son, Juchi, whose son established the Golden Horde. Depending on season we can see local football and ice hockey team play (both are good), opera and operetta, classic and ethnic music. Ethnic content is very diverse, as well as religions – so we can visit a mosque, catholic and orthodox churches. Come to Karaganda!!

KarLag museum is established in former office of Karaganda directorate of prisons. KarLag was one of the biggest camps within GULag system. Along with criminals, many prominent political activist served their term here. Massive political struggle took place from late 20's to late 30's and much of this hard time is attributed to the person of Joseph Stalin. This museum tries to keep balanced between tarring black whole epoch and finding what was positive (this is most typically muted nowadays). Generally, very interesting museum. After visiting it we may have a lunch in miners town, in their regular cafe - modest one but very illustrative of early 80's design.

Mining industry is very complex thing, requiring a lot of measures and matters to provide: electricity, transportation, materials, safety, dust protection, water supply, heating etc, etc, etc. Karaganda being 3rd biggest coal supplier in former USSR educates miners and mining engineers locally. There is a coal mine used for students, we can visit it.

Surprisingly for such industrial area like Karaganda, there is very good horse farm. At least, two horses are worth seeing them. At the Victory parade of Y1945 marshal Zhukov was receiving the parade sitting on white horse Arab. Its son and grandson both were Olympic champions on sport dressage and show jumping. In our days, grand-grandson of Arab is kept in Karaganda!! Another one is Akhal-teke breed, which is now prohibited to export from native land of Turkmenistan. Our hero is a rare exception, why - we will learn at the horse farm :-) Riding well trained horses is possible herre as well as learning more about the farm.

Eco museum was created by a group of local enthusiasts of tourism and environment protection. It tells how industrial development of Kazakhstan pollutes its nature. Coal mines, steel plants, uranium, space industry, nuclear tests - all of these must be balanced by more careful attitude. In fact, organized greed keeps defeating disorganized democracy...

One of the darkest pages in Kazakhstan history is political oppression that took place in Y1934-1937. Many politicians and activists were prisoned and many of them executed. In Karaganda we can visit execution ground, which nowadays is memorial to victims of political suppression. Embassies of states whose citizens are buries here installed memorial graves here.