25 years after the fall of the USSR, the former empire’s influence continues to be felt around the world. During its existence, it kept a firm grip on a large part of Europe and Asia. Today, the Empire is gone, but what has it left behind? A relief? Freedom? A longing for imperial power, for feeling strong and unique? There are at least 15 answers to this question—as many as there are countries left after the collapse of the USSR. One look at the front pages and the ongoing news about Ukraine will tell you that what is happening in these places still matters to all of us.

Sputnik Photos is an international collective founded in 2006 by documentary photographers from Central and Eastern Europe. This diverse gathering of image-makers is united by a desire to observe and describe their surroundings—as well as by their common experience of living in post-transformation countries.

For a number of years, Sputnik has been documenting changes taking place in post-Communist countries, particularly in the former republics of the Soviet Union. In the face of increasing political tensions in the region, the act of documenting everyday life, as well as the changes and myths of the countries still falling under Russian influence, becomes an ever more relevant act.

In 2015, five Sputnik Photos photographers intend to set out on a journey to five former Soviet republics, all of which are located in Central Asia.

Kazakhstan: Agnieszka Rayss
Uzbekistan: Michal Luczak
Turkmeistan: Rafal Milach
Tajikistan: Adam Panczuk
Kyrgyzstan: Jan Brykczynski

In the words of the collective, “We are immersing ourselves in this complex and multi-faceted world. We are uncovering the nations’ nostalgia for the empire, their drive to democracy, traces of former propaganda, poverty, but also the emergence of the new and hope for a better future. We are aware that our project will give neither a diagnosis nor simple and straightforward answers to the questions relevant for the region. Yet, we want to make discoveries and show them to others. We believe that 25 years after the change is a perfect time to sum up the efforts our nations have made to date.”

—LensCulture

Editor’s Note: Sputnik’s completed project about the post-Soviet world will be published to the wider public at some point in 2016. Keep your eyes peeled!