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Image: Eric Lusito

Mig-21, 126th Fighter Aviation Regiment, Mongolia: During the 1970s, this base was seen as the front line for potential conflict with China and was therefore kept on high alert, ready to attack at a moment’s notice.

“These sites of power… are mostly doomed to disappear in the course of time.”

Like an archaeologist entering the ancient tombs of pharaohs for the first time. That’s how Italian photographer Eric Lusito describes visiting these abandoned Soviet military sites; places that have been brought to ruin, but which remain – and contain – fascinating relics of their now-collapsed empire. “I had the feeling of discovering a new world,” Lusito tells us. “But one that was already starting to disappear.” Even the Cyrillic alphabet appeared to him like ancient hieroglyphs, before he had any clue about how to decipher it.

Yet, language aside, it was Lusito’s intention that his pictures spark people’s imagination. “The ruins and images have the power to let everyone build their own stories,” he says. These haunting photographs, which have so brilliantly captured the crumbling shells of buildings against their stark landscapes, are certainly evocative enough to make us wonder about the people who inhabited them. Wonder – and then some.


Image: Eric Lusito

2nd Guards Tank Division, Mongolia: During Soviet rule, the population around Choibalsan, Mongolia was over 300,000, with a large number of military personnel, staff and their families. These days it is closer to 39,000.

Eric Lusito has harbored a fascination for the Soviet Union for a long time. As a twelve-year-old, he remembers witnessing the fall of the Berlin Wall on television.

“Seeing these pictures, despite my young age, I was intrigued and disturbed in the face of the joy and emotion of the reunification,” he recalls. “The German people were finally together again after twenty-eight years of separation.”

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Image: Eric Lusito

44th Mixed Air Corps, Mongolia: “Glory to Communist Party of Soviet Union,” reads the slogan. Built in 1982, this edifice typifies the minimalist geometrical Soviet architecture that was characteristic under Khrushchev.

That day in November 1989, Lusito knew he was watching something significant happening. “I couldn’t describe exactly my feelings,” he says. “All I knew was that, one day, I would make a journey that would help me to understand what had been going on beyond that wall.” The Iron Curtain may not have meant much for those of Lusito’s generation, but the fall of the Berlin Wall certainly left an indelible mark in his mind.

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