"When President Vladimir V. Putin began a program four years ago to hand out plots of land in remote areas of the Russian Far East, the idea was to lure young, hardy settlers..."

"... to the vast and sparsely populated region in a Slavic replay of the 1862 Homestead Act’s promise of 160 acres in the United States. Instead, at least in this patch of territory near the Chinese border, the Kremlin’s program got [60-year-old Sergei] Lunin, a self-declared anarchist — though, he insists, 'not an idiot who supports violence' — and lifelong gadfly. Before signing up as a pioneer to develop his plot of empty land, he edited a now defunct newspaper, Dissident, spent time in a Soviet jail accused of 'parasitism,' and did freelance work as a political consultant specializing in making mischief.... Like the American West, the Russian Far East has always been a land apart.... 'Here people are not afraid to talk loudly,' [Anton Chekhov] wrote. 'There is nobody to arrest them here and nowhere to exile them to. You can be as liberal as you like.' Today, there are plenty of people on hand to make arrests. The one-room apartment in the regional capital of Blagoveshchensk that Mr. Lunin shares with his wife, four cats, three dogs, two mice and one rabbit sits across the road from a compound of the Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., the post-Soviet incarnation of the K.G.B.... 'This will be my own little country and I will be its Putin,' [Lunin] explained during a recent visit along with his wife to their [7.4 acres of] land.... 'I was free under Brezhnev and am free under Putin,' he said. 'I am free inside.'"

"'Here I Can Be My Own Dictator'/The Kremlin’s plan to hand out plots of land in Russia’s Far East, long a magnet for dissenters, idealists and oddballs, has attracted some unusually freethinking settlers" (NYT).

Go East, old man!

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