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Letter from Russia

Samantha de Bendern discovers why the Russian countryside is littered with half finished houses

Imagine a country where everyone, everywhere, has decided to build a house at the same time. You could call it builders’ paradise. For those of us who live here it is simply the “new Russia”-an uncharted territory somewhere on the raw edge of capitalism.

A year ago we moved into the village of Kalchuga, ten miles west of Moscow, after tearing to pieces and rebuilding a country dacha in the village. We are now recovering from those months of begging builders to work for us, and entreating overpaid tradesmen to sell us their paint, bathroom taps and other building materials.

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