On a recent afternoon behind the wheel of his car, Chernyshov drove past the shuttered Azov-City complex and looked out over a snow-covered field.
“This used to be farm country, there was work,” he said. “Farms, fish farms, canneries. And everything closed. Where should the young people from the casino go to work now? To the collective farm? That was closed, too. There used to be more than 1,000 jobs there, and now there’s just a small private collective farm with 50.”
Back in Shabelskoye, a town of more than 2,000 people located 17 kilometers from Azov-City, the locals can walk down the street and point out the homes where former casino employees live. They say every third home is occupied by someone whose work was connected to the gambling zone.
Several small grocery stores, as well as a housewares shop and a hair salon, populate the town’s central square. Newly built brick homes line the small roads leading to the seashore. The locals became accustomed to steady incomes during Azov-City’s eight-year lifespan, taking out mortgages and consumer loans. Now many face potentially crippling debt.
Viktoria Mityushkina, the mother of two who worked as a chef at a casino restaurant, told RFE/RL that she and her family would like to move from Shabelskoye. But they built their home using a federal subsidy for mothers that dictates strict conditions under which it can be sold.
“There are dozens of other homes like that here,” Mityushkina said. “It’s simply a disaster for the villages. What happens next? People just drink themselves to death? (RFERL)