CNN World View  

Ivanovka, Azerbaijan — Back in the USSR

ANS-TV — Feb 14, 2011 (2:52 minutes)

ANS-TV finds out why this Soviet era farming collective is thriving in Azerbaijan.

Our next contributor takes us to a village in Azerbaijan that feels like it is back in the USSR.

Most residents there work on the kolkhoz, a Soviet-style farming collective. The government privatized all of the other co-ops in the country, but ANS-TV Sevinj Osmanqizi reports this iconoclastic, one-of-a-kind farm is flourishing.

Sevinj Osmanqizi reporting: 73 year-old  Oalina Sergeyeva was born in the village of Ivanovka. For more than 3 decades she worked in the dairy of the local kolkhoz (Soviet-style collective farm). Now she is retired and raises poultry.

Oalina Sergeyeva : I worked in the kolhoz for 34 years. Thank God the kolkhoz gives everything free to its employees — bread, meat and dairy products. 

Sevinj Osmanqizi: The village of Ivanovka was settled in the mid-19th century by Christian Molokans who have been expelled from Tsar Russia for their refusal to practice Orthodox rituals. Vasiliy Prokofyev says that the local church [церков : tserkov*] here, called "sobranie" [meeting hall, assembly], is different from Orthodox churches. There are no icons or ornaments on display on the walls. [* Previously, tserkov only referred to the Russian Orthodox Church. The word is used when explaining their faith to outsiders.]

Vasiliy Prokofyev : Our ancestors did not believe in icons. How can one worship wood? [Orthodox venerate / honor icons.] We worship God who cannot be seen, and that's why our great-grandfathers were put in shackles and exiled here.

Sevinj Osmanqizi : In years of economic downturn following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the war with neighboring Armenia, scores of young Molokan families left Ivanovka for better jobs and conditions. But 28 year-old Vasiliy Novoseltsev says that this process stopped about 2 to 3 years ago.

Vasiliy Novoseltsev : I'm proud that I live in Ivanovka. I don't plan to go anywhere, and those friends of mine who think about leaving ... I try to persuade them not to.

Grigoriy Minnikov, kolkhoz dairy worker : During those times of hardships and war, it was difficult everywhere in Azerbaijan. Many villages, including those with Russian populations, decreased. We survived because we were together as one kolkhoz.

Sevinj Osmanqizi: Most of the Ivanovka residents work for the local kolkhoz named after Nikolai Nikitin. Its first chairman who led the kolkhoz for 41 years. The economic indicators of this kolkhoz traditionally were higher than anywhere else in Azerbaijan.

Valeriy Krupskiy, kolhoz swine worker : I think the kolkhoz form of management has proven to be the right way. I have known other farmers whose businesses eventually disappeared. We have a mixed economy here. When there are problems with grain and vineyards, or swine or poultry or cattle, someone comes to our rescue. Of course when you are part of the kolhkoz, everyone enjoys the profit.

Sevinj Osmanqizi from Ivanovka, Azerbaijan, for CNN World View.