When Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004, Lithuania’s border with Belarus became part of the European Union’s external border, and it later became the Schengen zone’s border as well. As such, border controls in the area have become much stricter, and people in the Šalčininkai region who were once able to visit friends and family in Belarus with ease are now isolated. As Bastian writes on his website, “this territorial re-alignment not only separated these two countries, it also disrupted the once harmonious lives of the people who live here. Many families were torn apart. Spouses, siblings, and close friends now live an entire world away, although their houses are actually only a few meters on the other side of the border.”
The landscapes and people in Bastian’s photos capture a region in which, the photographer has written, “time appears to be stagnant.” The photos also reveal the conditions in the Lithuanian village areas that many have accused the government of abandoning in its focus on Lithuania’s largest cities.
To see the rest of Bastian’s “A Road Not Taken,” please visit his website by clicking here.
The New Yorker