Download PDF by Eric Campbell: Absurdistan
By Eric Campbell
Award-winning overseas correspondent Eric Campbell has been stoned through fundamentalists, captured by means of US unique Forces, arrested in Serbia and threatened with expulsion from China. He′s negotiated relationship rituals in Moscow, shared a home with a charismatic mercenary in Kabul and brought up smoking at gunpoint in Kosovo. In 2003 in Iraq he was once injured in a suicide bombing which killed his colleague, cameraman Paul Moran. by way of turns provocative and thoughtful, ABSURDISTAN is a memoir approximately juggling life, love and fatherhood whereas reporting from one of the most dysfunctional areas in the world.
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It wasn’t just criminals who had prospered. The money swilling around Moscow had inevitably created a new middle class of office workers and traders. But even in this relatively rich capital, there was shocking poverty. Old people sat outside metro stations begging, their savings wiped out by hyperinflation and their pensions nearly worthless. The saddest were the babushki, the ubiquitous term for any women over 55. This was not a good time for Yeltsin to be standing for re-election. I had arrived just in time to see the launch of his campaign.
His camp at Vorkuta was among the worst of the worst. Men, women and children were forced to work in unimaginable cold to build coal mines and a railway line to transport the coal south. ‘Malingerers’ were shot or sent to exposed punishment cells where death was certain. He was never sure what his ‘crime’ was. Most people were sent to camps for unwise gossip or on trumped-up allegations. They were used as human workhorses to build the glorious Soviet Union. Even when his sentence ended, the terms of his release required him to work in the new city built beside the gulag.
There was a deafening blast of rapid fire about a metre from the windscreen. Our Chechen driver slammed on the brakes and skidded off the road. In the long silence before anyone spoke, all I could hear was a ringing in my ears and my heart pounding. I felt stunned by what had just happened. It was so stupid, dangerous and brutal. ’ It was two weeks since Meredith had left and Chechnya was the last place in the world I felt like being in. There had been no question of taking time off, as the elections were just weeks away, so I’d buried myself in work.
Absurdistan by Eric Campbell