Full-time activist

Tatiana Kulbakina is a coloful and important voice from Murmansk. Photo: Ingjerd Tjelle

Tatiana Kulbakina is a 24 year old with a strong voice and presence in the Murmansk community. -I want a nuclear-free and fossil fuel-free development with values of freedom, equality, solidarity, self-organization, she says.


Tatiana Kulbakina is currently working for Nature and Youth, she is also involved in the Humanistic movement for youth and the Regional Youth Human Rights Council. She has recently graduated university in Murmansk with a degree in Psychology, but wants to make a career out of her passion for the environment and human rights. She explains that she enjoys learning about human behaviour, but wants to implement this in her activism and schooling other activists.

Wants more critical thinking
Although not affiliated with any political parties, she describes herself as an environmentalist and antifascist. “If I had the time, I would be an organised feminist as well”, she jokes, and adds “I am a feminist in everyday life – I call out wrongs in the little things”.

She certainly sees challenges in her region. Local political authorities are not always interested in input from NGOs such as Nature and Youth – even if it is the largest youth organization in Murmansk. Traditions stand strong, and she would like to see more critical thinking and outspokenness. “Just the other day there was a large anti-gay demonstration in Murmansk, we need to counter such actions”, she says. We then briefly discuss the tsunami disaster in Japan and the nuclear crisis that followed, and she says its aftermath spawned propaganda from Russian authorities advocating the safety of its nuclear facilities.

Put the youth in charge
Staging arenas for young people to participate in music, film, theatre and art is a very important factor for making them stay in the region, according to Tatiana. She emphasizes the need to let the young people themselves be in charge of creating and administering cultural events, and it is important that such initiative is facilitated for and not hindered by high costs. “It is just not right – when we want to use the city’s arenas for cultural events, we are asked to pay”, she says.

While she at times struggles with the climate and dark winters of the Barents region, she enjoys her home town, and sees increasing possibilities for young people in the north. Although she would like to travel the world and learn languages, she wants to return to Murmansk. “I see challenges here, and I want to face these challenges and be a part of the solution, instead of simply leaving them behind”.

1) What is the first this that comes to your mind when you hear the words “High North”?

My home, that I know and where I feel well, long winter, polar days, nights and lights… Here everything is extreme, biodiversity is small but beautiful!

2) What must be done in order for more people to choose a life in the north?

I think that we don’t need to do anything to attract people to choose life in North. People can decide for themselves where they want and can live, and this is a choice depending on health, climate, people, favourite activity and so on. But it is very important to give the same possibilities for people in any region, for freedom of choice in identity, activity and in relationships, giving people the right to pursue happiness and possibilities for self-development. This is very important to motivate people to stay anywhere. A person needs to see prospects!

3) What do you think will be the situation in your home town in 15 years?

I’m not a predictor. It all depends on us. My utopia is enviromental friendly, nuclear-free and fossil fuel-free development with values of freedom, equality, solidarity, self-organization, support. Also as an anarchist I wish to see a world without oppression and suppression, where there is no hierarchy or authority, only shared responsibilities.