Russia has been waging a full-scale war against Ukraine for nearly three months. Photographer Petr Kamanin has spent this time taking pictures of Moscow and Muscovites, in an attempt to capture how ordinary, everyday scenes have changed since February 24. Meduza shares these snapshots of the Russian capital along with the photographer’s commentary.
I became interested in documentary photography in the last year and a half. I took photos of Moscow, the locals, and some ordinary, everyday scenes of city life.
When the war began, I was out of [this] space for a while. It took me three days to work up the strength to continue to do what I did before. At some point I decided that I would take pictures that would be useful in the future. Someday people will return to this time, to rethink what is happening now. On February 27, on the anniversary of Boris Nemtsov’s murder, I picked up my camera again for the first time and went outside. Thus this project began.
The subjects could be found in news communities. I stumbled upon things myself, just wandering around the city. I remember the evening when I went to shoot the Moscow government building across from the Hotel Ukraina. Since that night, the windows in this building have been lit up at night to form the letter “Z.” I saw this “Z” in person, while standing on a bridge (I was coming from the Taras Shevchenko Embankment). Ever since that night, Moscow has changed for me.
There were a lot of interesting things during this time, but I remember March 18 best of all. I went to shoot the “Crimean Spring” rally/concert at Luzhniki Stadium. As it happened, I ended up at the entrance just as the first crowd of public sector workers had made their appearance and were already starting to leave the stadium. A big crowd was walking towards the subway. In it, I noticed some volunteers who were handing out little flags. People stopped and asked [questions], but for some reason nobody took any. I got closer to take a picture and it turned out that they weren’t handing them out, they were selling them.
The little flags with the inscriptions “Z” and “For ours” [Za nashikh, in Russian, with the latin letter “Z”] were 200 rubles [$3]. And I thought this was interesting: the 200-ruble price of this ideology didn’t inspire enthusiasm for anybody. They would have taken it for free, but people aren’t ready to pay for this idea out of their own pocket.
I shared these posts on my Instagram. I hope they will make some people think. After one of the posts, a girl from Odesa wrote to me and thanked me for the pictures. And I thought it was all worth it for the sake of this message alone.
Translation by Eilish Hart