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The Old Believers live in their own way but accept the rules of the modern world


“Russia” TV channel has been following the issue of resettlement of the Old Believers from abroad to Russia, e.g. in the coverage of Alexander Rogatkin. And it should be noted that the bearded men were not always gladly welcomed in the historical homeland.

But in the spring of 2017, Metropolitan of the Old Believers Cornelius became the first leader of the Orthodox Old Belief Church in 350 years who was officially received by the head of the Russian state. The Russian President Vladimir Putin assured Cornelius that now the state will pay more attention to the Old Believers wishing to return to Russia.

“The bearded men” settled in the region of Primorye which has recently got the new governor. They bake toasted bread themselves, although in an electric oven. A brand-new stitching machine throws a stitch over the future shirts and long dresses. Women, having tucked their maxi dresses, sat behind the wheel.

“Sometimes there are no men. With driving license. They have no time. We go to the market," Glafira Muracheva, village Dersu, Primorsky Krai says. 

This is how the Old Believers live — maintaining their old way of life, while accepting the rules of the modern world. The village of Dersu in Krasnoarmeisky district of Primorye is located in taiga. Only in winter, after the river has frozen over, it became possible to drive a car here; in the summer, the pendant bridge is the only connection with the civilization. There's no mobile network, no shops, no school, no hospital.

The Old Believers came to the village in Primorye from South America. There they found a refuge at persecutions after the revolution. The settlers were born in Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina, but have always liked Russia.

“We love our country - Russia, because it is our Fatherland. We came back to live here. Only here our life is full," Spanish-speaking Ivan Murachev, a fellow villager of Glafira, frankly says.

In the market in the neighboring village, the Old Believers sell crops, dairy products, and meat. They sell home made stuff, but it does not seem the locals have fully accepted them. It's too early to talk about a peaceful neighborhood. Meanwhile they get used to each other.

Ulyan Murachev, the head of the community, gets turned on when he starts talking about the problems. Not enough land, not enough agricultural machinery. No capacious vehicles. Many mouths to feed - is not a proverb but a reality for them. Ulyan alone has 12 children and 20 grandchildren.

“Burnt child dreads the fire. They'll ask us. But what can we brag of?” Murachev says.

Ulyan is worried about that his relatives on the other continent will think about their new life in Russia. The Old Believers are looking forward to moving of all barbudos (bearded men - Spanish) to Primorye soon.

The new head of the region Andrey Tarasenko suggested the Old Believers to create an agricultural cooperative in Primorye and is even ready to build the Old Belief Church in Vladivostok.
The Far Eastern hectares can be obtained already at the stage of registration of citizenship. The land is the most important thing for the Old Believers. They call themselves not farmers, not peasants - agriculters, imitating the Spanish word.

“Life is real here. The forest, beautiful, is soo enormous. It's not the same there. If you go to the forest you have to crawl there. You have to tear off the lianas; it is impenetrable,” Evstafiy Murachev says.

The style of the Old Believers is a bizarre mixture of languages. Almost everyone knows Spanish and Portuguese. And we've forgotten much in the Russian. The children are taught literacy by Church Slavonic language.

Education is a special issue. In South America, the Old Believers shunned public schools. In Russia,  so far they accepted only the elementary school program. But not the school itself.

“If we let them into the public schools, to study in the city, we will lose our faith and traditions; we managed to keep our faith abroad only in this way,” Ivan Murachev states.

Now the teacher from the neighboring village comes to teach the children math and literacy. A ten-year-old child is already a helper in the field, and it is believed that, at this age, the child is already past the stage for a desk. But the Old Believers ask to build an elementary school in Dersu.

Family photos are handing on the wall in the hut of the head Ulyan. The photos are taken in China, Alaska, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia. So far, there is no group photo from Russia. They await the arrival of their relatives to Russia eagerly. To finish wandering around the world and settle here — though on the edge of the earth, but in the motherland.

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