After five years of radio journalism, Maria took up photography in 2011 and started with documenting political and social issues in Moscow. Since then she reports from the remote places, working on editorial feature stories as well as conducting her personal projects. As documentary photographer she explores mostly underreported stories. In 2012-2012 she has been working independently on a long-term project Hidden War In The Land Of Mountainsin Dagestan, North Caucasus, Russia. During 2014 she reported extensively from Ukraine. Recently her attention focused on reporting from the Middle East. Her photographic investigation looks into the causes and effects of extreme violence and injustice. Maria Turchenkovas work has appeared in TIME Magazine, Le Monde, NYT, The Guardian, Der Speigel, Newsweek Magazine , The Times, La Repubblica, Russian Reporter, Novaya Gazeta, MEDUZA, ARTE TV and others.
Hidden War in The Land Of Mountains
The Republic of Dagestan, in the North Caucasus, is a part of the Russian Federation. Being special historically, culturally and ethnically now it suffers with the consequences of the wars in neighboring Chechnya, with the uprising of jihadists and governmental forces fighting it with harsh methods, which keeps Dagestan in the circle of violence for the past 10 years. Dagestan remains the undisputed leader in the number of victims of the conflict among the regions of North Caucasus with more than 3000 people during past 5 years. My aim is to show all the contradictions making up the modern society here, to show how the Caucasus are changing, how the conflict affects life of people, while shootings, bomb blasts and other acts of violence happen on daily basis. With the stories of everyday life I'm trying to build the nowadays image of restless Dagestan. (2012-now)
Ramazan, the former policeman, shows the dugouts where insurgents hide from the security forces in the forest.
In 2011 his relative and three friends who were hunters were brutally murdered by a group of insurgents in the forest. One of those responsible for that was also a relative. Since then Ramazan searches this forest alone every day, looking for the traces and dugouts of the insurgents.
Military helicopter searches the forest during a special forces operation near the village Kidero, Dagestan, Russia.
Ropewalker performance in the legendary village of ropewalkers Tsovkra, Dagestan.
Military checkpoint at a mountain road in Dagestan.
Dagestan remains the undisputed leader in the number of victims among the regions of North Caucasus for the past years, with more than 3000 people killed during the past five years.
Dagestan has almost a half of its territory locked down under a special security regime, known as the CTO - abbreviation for counter-terrorist operation. It means: martial law, curfews and mop-up operations held by the Russian security forces.
A Salafi woman with a child seen in a street of Kaspiysk.
For the most part, the Muslims of Dagestan practice a moderate Sufism infused with local customs. Salafism - a conservative form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia - began to drift here through Afghanistan in the late 1980s.
Magomed shows his 2-years old nephew how to hold a weapon. Magomed is a school teacher of informatics in a village Tsibari, in a remote area of Dagestan. In 2012 the school was burned and the school director was killed presumably by insurgents - Islamic fundamentalists - who hide in the forests nearby and wage a guerrilla warfare in the region. The counter-terrorism operation was held during following few days by the local police with no result, and short after Magomed, like tens of locals, bought the weapon to protect his family.
Family dinner after sacrificing the sheep during the celebration of Eid al-Adha, a feast celebrated by Muslims worldwide, which Muslims in Russia call Kurban-Bairam.
An evening in a Salafi family in Gimry. It is a mountain village where Imam Shamil, the third Imam of Dagestan, was born. The place is considered to be Salafi committed for more than 200 years. They say that even during the Soviet period Gimry kept its religious autonomy.
Workers of a brick factory have a cigarette break.
There are more than 500 break factories in Dagestan, most of the workers are not registered, they have no guarantees for salary as well as medical insurance while the work conditions are on level of Middle Ages: part of workers were kidnapped from different cities of Russia and forced to work, another part came by themselves and are forced to stay and work waiting for payment which never comes.
A man seen in a burned mosque in Karamakhi, Dagestan. In June 2012 the unknown armed people came here after the evening pray, killed imam and 2 parishioners and burned the mosque. Officials claim it was made by the Islamist fighters, to frighten those people who dont want to be committed to the Arabian Salafi methodology. The village Karamakhi was the scene of heavy fighting when Chechnya-based militants had launched an armed incursion to Dagestan from Chechnya in 1999. The invasion became the reason for launching the Russian troops in Chechnya and start of the Second Chechen war.
A bed seen in the house after the special forces operation when 4 people were killed suspected to be the Islamist fighters.
Men praying in a Salafi mosque in Makhachkala.
The funerals in a mountain village Gimry, Dagestan.