From Troubled Water: A Journey Around the Black Sea, by Jens Mühling (Armchair Traveller series; Haus, 2022), Kindle pp. 31-32:
Paradoxically, the two [Armenian] Hotel Fortuna employees were the most miserable people I came across in Taman. Everyone else in the small town was in high spirits; I met barely anyone during my three-day stay who did not rejoice in the bridgebuilding. Those who had found work on the huge building site, or who were hoping to make a living from tourists from every corner of Russia who would soon pass through their town on their way to Crimea, rejoiced. Those who had relatives on the peninsula rejoiced that they would no longer have to take the sluggish, chronically overloaded ferry to visit them in the summer. The director of the local history museum rejoiced because her display cases were now full to bursting with archaeological artefacts – Cimmerian horse harnesses, Roman drinking vessels, Genoan coins – found while the bridge’s groundworks were laid. Last but not least, the joy of Taman’s residents was shared by the 2,500 entrants into a nationwide poetry competition that the office responsible for the bridge’s construction had recently launched to encourage patriotic eulogies of their feat. The victor had not yet been chosen when I was there, but here is a sample of what I read:
Crimea and Russia
Wedded by a bridge
That looks like a temple
The bridge was indeed something of an unexpected windfall for Taman. The town, with a population of 10,000, had hitherto wallowed in such oblivion, even by Russian standards, that its old name of Turkish origin, Tmutarakan, had become a national byword for any godforsaken provincial backwater – a kind of Russian Hicksville. Soon though, thanks to the bridge, Taman would no longer be a dead end on the tip of a promontory but Russia’s last stop before Crimea.
There was as yet little sign of this earth-shaking change. The bridge was a building site, the holiday season had not yet begun, and Taman seemed to be only just stirring from hibernation. The local museum was open but deserted, the model Cossack village on the edge of town still closed. A Soviet tank on blocks in the market square stood as a memorial to the Great Patriotic War, and its aerial counterpart, a fighter plane, greeted you on the road into town. Both of them were mounted on concrete pedestals with the constantly cited – and constantly wrong – dates carved into them: 1941–1945. As everywhere else in the former Soviet Union, the hushedup war years of 1939 and 1940 – when Stalin was still making common cause with Hitler to carve up Central Europe – were missing.