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The dacha community of Lyubitel-5, near the town of Elektrostal, sits in the shadow of a steel smelter and Elemash, a plant rumored by locals to produce fuel pellets for nuclear reactors. (National Geographic)

Snapshots Of Summer In Russia

by Claire O'Neill
Jun 27, 2012

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Claire O'Neill

It makes sense that in Russia, where it's cold and dark for much of the year, summer would be a magical time. An article in National Geographic's July issue explains the cultural significance — and ubiquity — of dachas, or summer cottages: One in three Russians, the article reads, owns one.

According to writer Cathy Newman, Vladmir Putin swoops into his by helicopter; Boris Pasternak wrote Doctor Zhivago at his dacha; and Joseph Stalin had about 20 dachas scattered around the Soviet Union.

"The dacha has threaded its way through Russian culture ever since Peter the Great handed out land on the outskirts of St. Petersburg to courtiers," Newman writes. "The dacha is the stage upon which the drama (or comedy) of Russian summer unfolds." Everyone in Russia, she says, has a dacha story.

And photographer Jonas Bendiksen has beautifully captured that fleeting, lyrical quality of life.

Where do you spend your summers?

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