Disillusioned Russian ex-lawyer opts for Hobbit-like existence

Three years ago, Yury Alekseyev became disillusioned with the concrete walls of his one-room Moscow apartment and his daily commute to work in a law firm. (Reuters)

Three years ago, Yury Alekseyev became disillusioned with the concrete walls of his one-room Moscow apartment and his daily commute to work in a law firm, and began to think about building a new home.

Picking up a shovel, he abandoned his career and headed 60 km (40 miles) northeast. Selecting a spot by the road in some woodland, he dug a Zemlyanka, or a Russian underground dugout.

Now he is known as the “Russian hobbit.”

Alekseyev doesn’t live like a hermit. His pet rabbit Petrushka shares his meals of peas and soy sauce. Friends and strangers drop by to exchange books from the 42-year-old’s library of more than 4,500 titles. Some bring food or fuel. Others pay his internet bill.

He has a computer, a cell phone, an iPad, and thousands of followers on social media and through his blog.

He’s not tempted to go back. Life in Russia under President Vladimir Putin dispirits him.

“Putin and his criminal team has literally destroyed the option for a political alternative,” he says.

He does have hopes for one politician - Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption activist who has said he wants to run for the presidency at elections next year.

“Navalny has become the only chance to have at least some kind of choice,” said Alekseyev.

But even if Navalny wins the election, it may not coax him out of his hobbit hole.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:50 - GMT 06:50
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