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Inhabitants of the Empty


Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Mediamax presents photo story “Inhabitants of the Empty” by Yulia Grigoryants.

Yulia Grigoryants

In 1988 7.0 Richter-scale earthquake struck the northern Armenia. The quake killed at least 25,000 people in the region. Thousands more were maimed and hundreds of thousands left homeless. Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city bore much of the damage. Large-scale war by the early 1990’s, the collapse of the Soviet Union, an energy crisis, and blockade that left landlocked Armenia with just two open borders.

A quarter of a century later, Gyumri has the country’s highest poverty rate at 47.7%. The city has lost nearly half of its population since 1988 also because of the labor migration. Few thousand families are still living in makeshift shelters, waiting for help. Many of them are not eligible for new housing, since they are not considered as direct victims of the earthquake. 25 years later they are still waiting for emergency improvements to their buildings…

Back in Soviet times these huge twin dormitory buildings on the outskirts of Gyumri accommodated around 60 families each. Today there are just four families living here... Four families and generations that were born and raised here. Among decaying walls and corridors. Living in this emptiness... Living their hopeless, imprisoned life…

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Karine (57) , who has been living for the last 26 years in the abandoned building on the outskirts of Gyumri in Armenia launched a fire from dry bushes and branches in front of her house. -"I will burn everything here! Everything!" - she screams with a smile.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Back in Soviet times these two buildings accommodated 60 families each. Today there are just four families living here, and generations that were born and raised here.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Children playing in the entry corridor of the building.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Lusine, at the age of 30, a mother of 5, in her single room apartment with no support after her husband committed suicide few days before.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Power socket in "Gortsaranayin 2A".

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Sose's (35) - a neighbour from the second twin building, was beaten violently  by her husband and step mother, when they discovered about her second pregnancy. They tried to force her to make abortion, but she gave birth to a daughter. Recently her husband left the family.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Lusine's children - Suren (5) and Levon (7) in their single room apartment, with a neighbour visiting them, few days after their father committed suicide.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Kitchen in one of the apartments.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Karine (11) - the oldest daughter of Lusine, struggling flu in their single room apartment.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Lusine in her apartment in Gyumri.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Syuzanna (9) sitting in a “shelter” made of old car rusty parts in front of the abandoned building she lives in Gyumri, Armenia. Ten days ago Syuzanna's father committed suicide, as people say, because of debt.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


The only place where inhabitants of these buildings can socialize.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Karine cleans the area from dry bushes and branches.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Suren in their tiny apartment.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Lusine’s children,  after the school in their single room apartment.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Levon - one of Lusine's sons.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


The same space usually serves as kitchen, living room, bedroom and kid's room in these apartments.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Levon - is looking at his father’s image, who committed suicide few days before. “I was holding my dad’s jacket and I felt his smell”, says Levon with a smile...

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Syuzanna with a relative visiting them.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Alex (11) - the son of Sose in their apartment in Gortsaranayin 2B.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Syuzanna takes care of her toddler sister Nareh.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


Lusine with her children in their tiny apartment in Gyumri, sleeping all 6 in the only room, that serves also as kitchen and playroom for the family.

Photo: Yulia Grigoryants


"Gortsaranayin 2A".

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