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A hermit's life in a Russian forest

The life of 'The Hobbit of Moscow Region', whose main problems are bad weather or the cold, not traffic jams or high interest rates.
By Anastasiya Karagodina, RBTH

Yury used to live in Moscow and work as a lawyer, but for the past five years he has been living 60 miles outside the Russian capital in woods close to the highway to Yaroslavl in a dugout shelter he built himself.

The busy road passes nearby, and there is a petrol station where he can get fuel for his generator. Yury finds firewood for the stove in the woods and uses water from a forest stream.

He is not trying to avoid human contact and communicates a lot on the Internet. Sometimes ordinary people driving past drop in. This is how he survives: Some people will bring him food, some put money on his online account, some share petrol with him.

Yury's hermit-like existence is a protest against today's system of values. Now he is confronted with the forces of nature: Instead of problems with parking or repaying a loan, which are the everyday reality of a city dweller, Yury is concerned with keeping warm, finding firewood in bad weather and fetching water.

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For food and everyday needs Yury collects water from a stream in the woods near his underground shelter. In winter he has to break ice with an ax.

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The hermit prepares food in a makeshift kitchen. Two torches, one attached to his forehead and another suspended from the ceiling, help him see what he is cooking.

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He lives with pet rabbit called Petrusha, which likes bananas and porridge. 

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Yury himself likes peas that, along with his other meals, he prepares on a simple stove.

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Away from the world the pace of life is more measured, so there is time for a tea ceremony.

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In his dugout home Yury has many books. There are various means of communication - for example, an old computer. Electrical devices are powered by energy from solar panels.

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Yury is not entirely cut off from civilization - he has access to the Internet via his iPhone. He maintains a page on Facebook and he finds music and films on Russia's biggest social network vk.com.

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Recently he has added a bath to his dugout home.

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The entrance to the dugout is circular, giving rise to comparisons with a Hobbit-hole.

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For heating, cooking and bathing Yury uses wood from the forest. He cuts wood with a chainsaw.

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He prepares firewood for several days in advance, chopping logs with an ax.

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In winter Yury stokes the stove every day to maintain a comfortable temperature in the dugout.

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Yury gets new books for his library from travelers - a sort of roadside BookCrossing. 

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In winter after taking a bath he runs outside and rubs snow over his skin. Sometimes he even buries himself completely in the snowdrifts around his forest home.

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Even driving snow is no hindrance to this tradition.

 

January 25, 2017
Tags: extreme, wood

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