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Misha Maslennikov

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The lost universe

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        A volunteer labor camp named after Holy Martyr Kliment of Ankir at the Orthodox community of the Holy Martyr Anthimus of Nicomedia is located in the village of Poteryaevka, Altai Krai, Russia.
        The village was founded in the beginning of the 19th century and entirely emptied by the 1930-ies after many families were expelled to the country's extreme north during the collectivization. Later in 1972 the village was recognized as having no prospects. At the time around 300 villages ceased to exist in Altai. In 1926 Poteryaevka's population was 345 people and by 1963 it reduced to 200. In the same year of 1963 the authorities drafted a new village development plan, which provided for growth of population to 700 by year 1970. However, in 1972 the village disappeared entirely after its last resident had left the place.
        Nevertheless, some enthusiasts started visiting the place during their summer vacations. Eventually they organized there an informal children summer camp that began to attract people from all over the Soviet Union. Discipline in the camp was tight; the children rose with the sun and led a healthy life, full of joy, with homemade food, entertainment in the open air and various tales about trees and birds. It is worth mentioning that the camp organizers were facing very strong resistance, the camp was burned down 18 times in the autumn and winter months. It was not until April 5, 1996 that the camp was officially recognized. From time to time various officials from different organizations haunted the camp, for instance, on August 2, 1999 they visited the camp and made an attempt to officially close it under the mask of children health concern. On that day all the kids climbed onto the roof of one of the houses with anti-communist slogans demanding the visitors to go away. The outcry produced an effect and the camp was left alone. Since then, the 2nd of August became a locally celebrated holiday in Poteryaevka.
        In their efforts to develop the camp, the organizers managed to secure support of the Altai Krai governor and the Mayor of the city of Barnaul. They also managed to persuade the head of the Siberian Military Command to donate shelter tents. On their request, the local authorities supplied bricks and other construction materials. Thanks to the support of the Regional communications department and the director of the local telecommunications company, Poteryaevka got telephone communications.
        The camp has been operating nearly two and a half decades. A lot of children wish to get there: the stream is never ending.
        Now Poteryaevka represents a complex consisting of a functioning church, the camp itself, one school, one medical station, 16 permanent houses, 12 bathhouses, 12 wells and an electricity supply station. The villagers stick to the traditional values and lifestyle.

        Poteryaevka the village name is derived from the word 'poteryat', meaning 'to lose'.