A portrait of Lenin painted on the wall of an abandoned building in Norilsk. After the Gulag camps were closed many people left the city. In turn, the Soviet government tried to attract new residents to the town by offering salaries four times higher than usual. After the end of the Soviet Union the extra funds for settlements in the Far North dried up and life in Norilsk became much less appealing.
The city of Norilsk, in the far north of Russia's Krasnoyarsk region, was founded in the 1920s and today has a population of just over 175,000. In its early years it served as the centre of Norillag (or the Norilsk Corrective Labour Camp) but was given town status in 1953 as the Gulag system was slowly winding down. Today the city is largely dependent on MMC Norilsk Nickel, the world's leading producer of Nickel and palladium and Norilsk's main employer. In 2001, the city was closed to all non-Russians, except for citizens of Belarus.