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After eight hours in an overheated Soviet-era sleeper car, we pull into the Petrozavodsk train station just after 1 a.m. The streets are silent, the night air chilly. Our taxi shudders and swerves along roads pitted with axle-gulping potholes. Identical concrete apartment blocks built in the 1960s flash by in a blur. Winter temperatures here, some 250 miles northeast of St. Petersburg, sometimes plunge to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. A traffic circle in the middle of town boasts what locals claim is Russia’s only statue of Lenin holding a fur hat.
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