Introducing Sakha Republic
Looming like a giant inverted iceberg north of the BAM line, the sprawl of remote Sakha Republic (the country’s largest) takes time and effort (or an air ticket) to reach. Life is noticeably different here. The buildings of Yakutsk – a friendly place where Russians are the minority – stand on stilts. Sakha is the correct term for the local ethnic group commonly called by the Evenki name for ‘horse people’: Yakut. The republic is also known as Yakutia.
The most unrepentant dissidents (including Decembrists and Bolsheviks) were exiled in Sakha. It was a ‘jail without doors’, as the swamps, mountains, ice and bug-infested forests did a pretty good job of keeping people from going anywhere.