National Geographic : 2006 Mar
staked his future on the discomfiting trade-off so prevalent across the former Soviet lands stability for freedom. Nostalgia for Soviet stability runs deep in the eastern city of Dnipropetrovsk, a belching swath of pipe factories and old missile plants cleft by the meandering Dnipro River. I spent two nights here in an aging brick and concrete apartment tower overlooking the Dnipro, a tired guest in the welcome clutches of Galina Mikhailovna Matsygailo. A robust widow of 68, Galina wore a blue cotton blouse dotted with white seashells, her gray hair pulled back tight. With her home made vodka and salo-aUkrainian staple that 54 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MARCH 2006 is nothing but pork fat-she nearly killed me with hospitality. Galina had just retired from what she called her "capitalist career," part-time work in a travel agency run by an emigrd. But it was her long career under communism that she recalled with pleasure and pride. For 18 years she had worked in state agriculture as an "incubator," hatching chickens, geese, and turkeys and flying them by helicopter to state farms across eastern Ukraine. Stocking the farms was hard work, but vital. They would incubate more than a million birds a season, she said. And today? I asked. "Not a single one. The system's destroyed."