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Crisis-hit Russia toiling to keep factory towns alive

A welder works in the Soviet-era Pikalyovo Cement factory some 260 km outside St. Petersburg, in September 2015The hulking Soviet-era mineral refinery in Pikalyovo, one of Russia’s hundreds of factory towns hit by a crippling economic crisis, has been a blessing, and at times a curse, for a place dependent on a single industry. “All residents are tied to the refinery in one way or another,” said refinery technical director Oleg Khristich, wearing a hard helmet. Pikalyovo is one of 319 Russian industrial towns classified as “monocities” because of their dependency on a single economic activity.

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