World Press Photo:
Best pictures of Russia's finest photographers
Anastasiya Karagodina
Photo by Valery Melnikov, 2017
The winners of World Press Photo 2017 were announced on Feb. 13. The world's largest and most prestigious photojournalism contest honored four Russian photographers this year: Sergey Ponomarev, Valery Melnikov, Yelena Anosova and Kristina Kormilitsina. Russian entries regularly pick up the top awards. Take a look at the history of Soviet and Russian photos recognized by World Press Photo.
Winners of 2017
Sergey Ponomarev, 2016
Reporting Europe's Refugee Crisis
General News, first prize stories

Over one million refugees entered Europe in 2015, the vast majority arriving by sea, through Greece and Italy. Many wanted to make their way to the Schengen Area of the European Union, where movement between member states does not require a passport. Balkan countries attempted to steer refugees towards the next border as the continent struggled to cope with its largest movement of people since World War II..
"Winning the competition brings professional recognition and boosts your career. But it's only the first step and sets a bar that must never be lowered.
Competitions are not the be-all and end-all—the main thing is to do your job well. The daily nitty-gritty is more important. I personally don't follow competitions, so victory, if it comes, is just a pleasant surprise."

Sergey Ponomarev

Vladimir Pesnya, 2016
Vetluga's Hockey
Sports, first prize

Players of the Vetluga junior team on their way to a match against a club from the neighboring village of Sharanga. HC Vetluga is an amateur hockey team from the small town of Vetluga, some 230km north of Novgorod. The team participates in regional championships. Their home stadium is simply a fenced-off patch of ice in the open air. HC Vetluga comprises people of all ages, from schoolchildren to pensioners.
"The award didn't have much impact on my life. A few more lectures and a little more publicity, but it's mostly virtual. The main change at work was a pay rise. It's definitely worth taking part in the competition. To succeed, besides keeping up with the latest trends in photojournalism, I think you need to be aware of the interpenetration of photographic genres, while remaining true to yourself. If the photographer has something to say and the ability to communicate it clearly, the chances of success are fairly high. Remember that any competition is basically a game, and the result is pretty much random. Winning is important, but not the main—and by no means the only—marker of success."

Vladimir Pesnya
Elena Chernyshova, 2014
Days of Night - Nights of Day
Daily Life, third prize

Norilsk, in northern Russia, is (after Murmansk) the second-largest city within the Arctic Circle, with a population of over 175,300. It is also one of the 10 most polluted cities in the world, home to the largest metallurgical and mining complex in the world. Founded in the 1930s as a factory-city, until 1953 Norilsk operated as a Soviet Gulag, with some 17,000 people dying of cold, starvation and forced labor. Norilsk endures an extremely harsh climate, with temperatures dropping below -50°C in the winter, blanket snow for 250-270 days a year and polar nights from December to mid-January, when the sun does not rise above the horizon.
Danila Tkachenko, 2014
Staged Portraits, third prize

A series of portraits of a person who has opted to withdraw from conventional society and live as a hermit in isolated natural surroundings.
Sergei Ilnitsky, 2013
The Golden Touch
Sports Action, second prize

London, UK. Fencing at the 2012 Olympics. Yuki Ota of Japan and his teammates celebrate victory over Germany, following the men's team foil semi-final.
Yuri Kozyrev, 2004
The Local Sheikh
General News, first prize

A local sheikh arrives to receive instructions on how to wage guerrilla warfare in the provinces at the beginning of the Iraq War. The long, ongoing stand-off with Iraq came to a head when a coalition of British and American forces attacked the country. Saddam Hussein was captured on December 14. The Americans abolished the ruling Ba'ath Party and established an interim Governing Council (IGC), which received cautious backing from the UN Security Council.
Gueorgui Pinkhassov, 1993
New Analysts
Arts and Entertainment, first prize

Groups of Chinese avant-garde artists, belonging to movements such as Cynical Realism and Political Pop, pitch irony and humor against the intransigence of the communist regime. Exhibitions of little political significance have been closed down more than once, while gestures of defiance are often so subtle as to go unnoticed abroad.
Vladimir Vyatkin, 1986
The Kind Hands of Doctor Nemsadze
Science & Technology, first prize

Vakhtang Nemsadze, chief pediatric surgeon at Filatov Children's Hospital No. 13 in Moscow, with colleagues and patients.
Vladimir Chistyakov, 1984
Ten Thousand Kilometers across the Arctic
Nature, first prize

A 10,000 km polar expedition on foot across the Soviet Union inside the Arctic Circle.
Valery Shustov, 1979
Fire Tamers
Color Picture, first prize

Fire fighters extinguishing a fire at an oil exploration well in Dagestan. When oil catches fire, the fire fighters face the twin task of putting out the fire and saving the well. Valery Shustov made this story while working on a larger piece about the Caspian oil industry. The unbearable heat meant that he had to work very fast and move around constantly.
Single photos
Text by Anastasiya Karagodina
Edited by Olga Vlasova
Cover photo by Valery Melnikov/MIA "Rossiya Segodnya"
Images credits: Sergey Ponomarev, Reuters, Kristina Kormilitsyna/Kommersant, Valery Melnikov, Vladimir Pesnya, Elena Chernyshova, Danila Tkachenko, Sergei Ilnitsky, Yuri Kozyrev, Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Vladimir Vyatkin/RUSS PRESS PHOTO, Vladimir Chistyakov/RUSS PRESS PHOTO, Valery Shustov/RUSS PRESS PHOTO, Vladimir Semin/RUSS PRESS PHOTO, Yuri Belinsky/TASS
Design and layout by Anastasiya Karagodina
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