by Vera Skvirskaja and Caroline Humphrey

In the early 1990s, with the rush to capitalism, a new kind of commodity market began to appear across the vast territories of the former Soviet Union. Some of these markets have escalated into great transnational wholesale and retail trading points, attracting buyers and sellers from neighbouring countries as well as from China, the Middle East, Vietnam and Africa.

Ever expanding, these bustling markets have their own administration, police and security guards, and they have put in place bus services, parking areas, cafés, toilets, hotels, banks and medical facilities. The daily turnover can reach tens of millions of dollars.

7km Market

A Turkish trader selling Turkish leather goods. Images by Vera Svirskaja  
Right: A Vietnamese money changers' corner.