As an offshoot of the embassy, the dacha is frequently used for official functions. Every May, the entire staff is invited to celebrate Victory Day, a Russian holiday commemorating World War II, and on Labor Day, the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake arrives to enjoy an annual fete. “The main mission for us has been to keep the house and grounds alive,” says Ushakov.
On weekends, the couple prefers hosting smaller gatherings and house parties of no more than 10 people. Menus include fish freshly caught from the Chesapeake and salads tossed with lettuces, cucumbers and tomatoes picked from the vegetable gardens on the property. “People can relax and open up in way that they never do in the city,” says Ushakova. “A dacha is not just about entertaining. It’s about uniting people in a very spiritual way because here you are in harmony with nature. That’s why the dacha is so powerful for Russians.”