The Muromtsev Dacha, a historic place in the Moscow district Tsaritsyno, and one of the last remaining wooden houses in the Russian capital, burned down just after New Year's day under suspicious circumstances. This is a tragic story with an ugly stink.
The original house was built for Sergei Muromtsev, president of the first Duma in 1906 and an author of the famous Vyborg Appeal to stop paying taxes to the tsar during the first Russian revolution (1905-1907). The Nobel Prize winning writer Ivan Bunin was introduced to his future wife Vera, Muromtsev's niece, there (a photo of Bunin and Vera) and described the dacha village in his stories.
The house later was used as a school and then as a dormitory for teachers. In 1970s it became an informal cultural centre and meeting place. The iconic Russian writer Venedict Yerofeev, author of 'Moscow-Petushki' ("Москва – Петушки") novel, also known as 'Moscow Stations' and 'Moscow to the End of the Line'), lived and wrote there. In the 80-s and 90-s Yerofeev's memorial museum was organised in the house. It was also the main residence for six families with young children.
Early in 2000s the area became a prized location for developers (Google map of the area below). Moscow authorities struck the house off the register and were planning to demolish it. Campaign to protect and renovate the house as an important historical and cultural monument stopped the process. It is suspected that the fire was the result of arson. Activists stood in front of bulldozers sent in to demolish the ruins.
The campaign to save and restore the Muromtsev Dacha needs support and publicity. Families who lost their homes also need help including warm clothes. Their Russian-English home web-site has details, links, latest developments and contact adresses to send help. They need workers, money, clothes - but most of all, I think, publicity.