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Rasputin’s ghost

In a decaying Russian village, I meet Rasputin's "great grandson" and spend the night with a babushka who has lost so much

By Colin Thubron   June 1999

I hitch a lift to the small, unkempt village of Pokrovskoe, the birthplace of Rasputin. The truck-driver who dropped me off swore that a relative of Rasputin survived here. But the only people in sight were some old women seated on benches. At the mention of a man resembling Rasputin they waved us in varying directions; eventually we arrived outside a ramshackle house with closed shutters, and a voice inside cried out: “Viktor!”

Perhaps he had been warned of our approach, because he was dressed for the part. As he loped towards us across his vegetable patch, even the truck-driver…

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