The struggle against the cold

In RT’s latest Russia Close-up episode it’s the turn of the Yakutia region. The republic is situated in the country's Far East and is home to one of the coldest cities on earth. Coping with the weather is a harsh reality of people's everyday lives.

The Yakut people worship the sun, presumably for its ability to thaw a frozen face. This is Russia’s Asia, where delicate Asiatic features form a contrast to the harsh Arctic climate.

Yakuts make up 40 per cent of the population there. They speak a language of Turkic origin. The Yakut language is rich in verbs, and many of the words sound as if they’re stuck together with glue.

”Children learn to speak Yakut from aged 11. Lessons are compulsory for natives. But nowadays many Russians are learning the language too,” says school principal Ludmilla Maksimova.

Along with the sun the Yakut people worship the horse. In fact, one of their gods is depicted as a horse spirit. Yet at the same time they eat them.

The Yakut horse has a fatty flesh, a reason why it can endure temperatures of minus 60 degrees Celsius.

”Yakut horses are the only ones that can survive in an Arctic climate. They never lie down during the winter. They sleep standing up. Still, they are strong, tough and hardy animals,” says horse breeder Nikolay. 

And the people are hardy too in this sort of weather. They say the best way to survive is to wear fur.

“Come to Yakutia and you’ll realise that nothing but fur keeps you warm!” they say.

The Yakut boots save many from frostbite. All handmade from reindeer hide, wool and felt, this is the traditional local footwear, but it’s still popular today.

No two pairs look the same, with their individual beading and sequins.

If fur’s not your thing, then there’s an alternative way to keep warm - the national Yakut sport of energetic leaps and bounds.

It may look unusual but it does have a purpose as sports trainer Viktor Sokov explains:“This sport increases your endurance and fitness. Traditionally Yakuts were hunters and they needed to jump from rock to rock in the swamps, so that’s how this type of jumping originated.”

Nowadays, the Yakut people say jumping helps them outwit the weather as in Yakutia it’s about survival of the fittest.