Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakov and his wife Svetlana continue the Russian tradition of summer escapes and family bonding on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
By Deborah K. Dietsch
Photography Gary Landsman
Russians cherish the dacha, a word meaning summer house or cottage. During summers and weekends, millions of them leave the stress of congested city life for the solace of a cabin or house in the countryside. “It’s a Russian tradition,” explains Yuri Ushakov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation. “You will find Moscow empty on Saturdays and Sundays, even in winter. A dacha is a good place to spend time outdoors with family and friends.”
Since arriving in Washington eight years ago, the Russian ambassador and his wife Svetlana Ushakova have kept up this tradition on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. They spend nearly every weekend and longer stretches during the summer at the embassy’s three-story brick dacha fronting the Chester River. While the 1920s Georgian-style house doesn’t exactly look Russian, it offers the couple the same pleasures as their dacha outside of Moscow – spending time with their 10-year-old grandson Misha, grilling shashlik (Russian shish kebob), with friends, or relaxing in the bania, Russian for steam room.