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Along the Amber Route: Liepāja

I had arrived in Karosta, the northern suburb of Liepāja founded in 1893 by Tsar Alexander III as a naval base, and used as recently as 1991 by the Soviet military. The road wound down towards a swing bridge across the ship canal that separates Karosta from Liepāja. It was unattended, and its gates padlocked; it had been that way for more than a year since a Georgian tanker ran into it in a storm, obliging residents to make a detour of several kilometres and reinforcing Karosta’s isolation.

Liepāja’s official tourist brochure tried to make a virtue of Karosta’s ‘enchanting brutality’, waxing lyrical about ‘the sweet smell of wild roses among the hard cold steel of twisted barbed wire’. In reality, it was a dismal place, riven by unemployment and drug addiction, its streets dark and deserted on a Saturday night. This was where most of the city’s Russian-speaking population lived, the ancillary workers brought here to service the naval base, now stranded and largely jobless in a country that did not want them.

From Along the Amber Route by C.J. Schüler

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C.J. Schüler

C.J. Schüler