Isolated in the west Siberian plain is the village of Aidara, only reachable by navigating the winding Ket river. The next biggest settlement is about three hours away. The village’s roughly 150 inhabitants consist mainly of Russian Orthodox Old Believers.
Old Believers see themselves as the preservers of original Orthodox traditions. They separated from the main church in protest against religious reforms conducted in the 17th century. As they experienced persecution in Tsarist Russia, and were forced to conceal their religious practices under Soviet rule, Old Believers have tended to settle in more remote and isolated locations.
Today, several big families in Aidara keep their unique traditions alive, and some of their religious services can last all night. Otherwise, the community is kept busy with agricultural work, as it is almost entirely self-sufficient in terms of food. A helicopter delivers whatever else is needed, along with the mail, every two weeks. On mail days, the inhabitants gather at the landing spot, awaiting their moment of contact with the outside world.