From husky racing to sleeping in a Siberian hut, you can experience the many sides of Russia without traveling far from the capital.
A village just outside Moscow is aiming to show how different ethnic groups can live side by side, promoting friendship and tolerance.
Once you cross the village’s border, the mysterious sounds of a distant land reaches your ears. It is a folk song from Kamchatka in Russia’s Far East, a precious remnant of an ancient culture that was virtually extinguished in the Soviet Union.
“The indigenous peoples were forced to speak Russian instead of their native language,” Koryak Kit Kit explains to RT. “They were told they wouldn’t find a job if they didn’t speak Russian. The Soviet authorities forced the local people to stop wearing their national clothes. Tambourines were burned because they were considered to be elements of shamanism and paganism.”
Andrey is Koryak. He represents the indigenous people of the Kamchatka territory. His ethnic village is a 100 kilometers outside Moscow.
For his people, the tambourine is a sign of the family’s strength. No stranger can touch it, as music is their identity.
“Each family is supposed to have their own family melody,” Kit Kit said. “The grandparents teach tunes to their children so they can pass them on to younger generations. The melody is a distinguishing feature of any family. It’s like a country’s national anthem.”
The Koryak people are nomads, and live in tents called Yarangas. The ethnic village has a couple of Siberian Yurts, too: tourists looking for a more genuine experience can even stay in them.
“We were really very interested in the Siberian way of life and we wanted to try it, but we couldn’t go to Siberia, so we went to this village,” tourist Elena Yushanskaya told RT.
A pack of huskies in the distance completes the picture-perfect Siberian image. Tourists can have a go themselves.
In many parks in Siberia, huskies are still a preferred mode of transport. They only need to be fed once every four days, and on that they can travel 155 kilometers a day at a top speed of 60 kilometers per hour.
The ethnic village attracts 1 million visitors a year with Ukrainian and Belarusian cultures represented, too. This is still just scratching the surface – by 2020, the village will expand to over 50 cultures from Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“The world is full of violence, ethnic and religious tension and hatred,” program coordinator Andrey Zatoka told RT. “Someone should show people the beauty of other cultures without force and violence and convince them that the world is a single whole.”
So, if you yearn for the wilderness of Siberia, it can be found closer than you might think.