From many viewpoints Uryupinsk is the “capital city of Russia’s provinces.” Its name is so widely used in anecdotes about Russian “country-bumpkins” that many Russians believe that it is the creation of some storyteller. Uryupinsk, however, really exists.
About 40,000 inhabitants enjoy a healthy and picturesque environment on the river Khoper 300 km (about 200 miles) from Volgograd. This old Cossack town is now the center of a rural district. Major industries include the producers of sunflower oil and agricultural machinery, but the city’s authorities hope that the engine for the city’s economy will be goat down. Women
there knit shawls that are not only warm, but also very beautiful. City mayor Valery Sushko entertains hopes that Uryupinsk shawls will be real competitors to Angora knitted goods. He has publicly boasted that there are more goats in Uryupinsk than there are people, in part exploiting the anecdotal image of the city to attract more attention. [...]