The Komi Autonomous Oblast first opened its doors to the West in the spring of 1991. Since then the West has appealed to the Komi Autonomous Oblast to close its doors, pull its blinds and for God’s sake cut its grass.

Here in the Komi Autonomous Oblast there are approximately three persons per square kilometer (eight persons per square mile) and an overall population of 13,100 (1998 estimate). The harsh climate and short days make our region a popular place for government-run labor camps. Few of our region’s writers and intellectuals are denied the opportunity to workout at one of our more than 200 intimate campsites. Interesting.

Since 1936, our region has grown in stature. There is even talk of us soon becoming a republic. No one is quite sure who is doing the talking, but we are fairly certain they won’t have a date for New Year’s Eve. The indigenous peoples of the Komi Autonomous Oblast speak Komi (also known as Zyrian, or Komi-Zyrian), a language with several dialects, so many, in fact, that communication is difficult and seldom worth the effort. Instead we have developed a system of grunts and moans: two grunts for “Cold enough for you?” and a moan for “Yes, dear.”

The economy of the Komi Autonomous Oblast centers on illegal activities. However, if you leave the center you may find some activities that are only heinous or in poor taste. Not surprisingly, tourism is our leading export, followed by women and college students. The college students of the Komi Autonomous Oblast are much sought after for their great mathematical ability. However those abilities fade quickly after a certain age and they become moody and unable to add without assistance, and then who’s laughing? There is a story, probably apocryphal, that Napoleon, returning from a foreign campaign, was so taken with the Komi college students that he gave up a successful career as a diabetic and became instead a short, ruthless tyrant. Interesting, no?

The Komi Autonomous Oblast has more lawyers per capita than any other region on the continent. Our lawyers specialize mainly in class-action suits, particularly those involving the logging industry. As our lawyers are quick to point out, we have unusually high rates of injuries and deaths resulting from the questionable logging practices promoted by the industry. These practices include threats, terror and torture. Recently, environmental groups have become interested in preserving the snow forests of the Komi Autonomous Oblast, but their efforts have been largely ineffective due to most of them having been threatened, terrorized and tortured.

In the 10th century Polish Catholic missionaries arrived in the Komi Automous Oblast. Within ten years they succeeded in converting the Komi to Orthodox Atheism. One story tells how St. Udmurt, in 1313, founded a mission at the site of a former university. Tragically, St. Udmurt was later martyred while serenading a musk ox. How interesting.

Recently the Komi Autonomous Oblast has been the scene of several unsuccessful movements for greater autonomy. In May, Komi Freedom Fighters backed by a contingent of disturbing hand puppets, advanced on the capital city Syktyvkar. A crisis was averted when the government shut off power to the city, causing rebel forces to repeatedly bump into each other till they grew irritated and went home sore.

The best time to visit the Komi Autonomous Oblast is during the holy month of Ukrug. It is only during Ukrug that the Timan Mountains are passable, and only then when nobody is looking.