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Daching or How to Get Beaten Up in the Russian Countryside

Published: August 11, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • The latest round of daching took place by the village of Akulinino outside Moscow, best known for a mansion linked to state monopoly Russian Railways' president Vladimir Yakunin.
    Photo: Wikimapia

Many extreme sports, from snowboarding to air racing, are known health hazards. But only one can lead to indiscriminate beating, allegations of terrorism, jail and even self-imposed exile — and all you need to do is take a stroll through supposedly public land.

Dozens of Russian officials, from President Vladimir Putin on down the totem pole, are accused of possessing posh "dachas" — countryside mansions that are often built on public land and would be impossible to afford on an official's salary.

The new Russian pastime of "daching" is defined by activists as the touring of the public land that holds such mansions in an attempt to attract attention to the dubious real estate.

Proponents insist that daching is lawful and innocent — but more often than not, they face harassment by police on questionable pretexts and attacks by thugs, sometimes in plain view of the guardians of order.

"This is public enlightenment," said daching devotee Georgy Alburov. "We're trying to shed light on the lifestyles of the people controlling financial flows in the country."

"They're incredibly irritated," Alburov, a known opposition figure and anti-corruption campaigner, said by telephone Wednesday.

Someone definitely is irritated, judging by the latest round of daching last weekend, which ended in several dozen brief detentions and another 10 or so alleged beatings.

The clash took place by the village of Akulinino outside Moscow, best known for a mansion linked to state monopoly Russian Railways' president, Vladimir Yakunin, an estate that reportedly boasts a fur storage area and a climate-controlled prayer room decorated with a collection of rare Christian icons.

Most activists, including Alburov, were detained when they queued up for train tickets — which, police said, amounted to an unsanctioned rally.

Some 15 drove to Akulinino, only to be attacked at the gates by thugs with brass knuckles and air pistols, Alburov said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Sept. 18


Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburg’s answer to the United States’ popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genre’s authors, artists and experts.



Friday, Sept. 19


SPIBA’s newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is “Handmade in Germany,” an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.



Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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