Issue 53: Lancaster-on-Volga


By: Robert Spencer

In 1947, when Forbes magazine published its 30th anniversary issue, it selected Lancaster, Ohio, as the quintessential representation of the all-American town. It had the perfect balance of large companies, small businesses like shops, and farms just outside of town. To hear Forbes tell it, it was a beautiful, cohesive, nice small town, one of many all across the United States.

I am visiting this Lancaster, perched along the banks of the Volga river​ near the Valdai Hills of Russia, 225m above sea level north-west of Moscow. Like “Seahaven,” the fake movie-set town where Truman lives in the movie “The Truman Show,” This Lancaster is a modern-day Potemkin village, built, according to some historians, along the route of Empress Catherine II during her journey to Crimea in 1787 that was organized by the Russian Minister Grigory Potemkin solely to deceive her entourage and to impress the empress.

He ordered peasants to stand along the side of the road with happy smiles. To make his “villages” more authentic he even had herds of cattle move along the road. Each time Catherine saw the cows she did not realize they were the same ones she had seen the day before.

But the new sealed-off Lancaster, decades old, is a much improved version with a different audience in mind. In this town are born and raised Russian Citizens (Rumericans) whose Kremlin-directed lives are entirely devoted to being everything American — the better to fit in unnoticed when later eased into the U.S. with counterfeit identities.

First noticed by CIA satellite photography in the early 1990’s, information on the installed town has been gradually accumulated by exploiting a basic weakness of the project, a Russian speaking US agent can relatively easily penetrate and blend with the local population of over 17,000. I prefer not to reveal details of my visit last year.

Rumericans here are impressive. They lead fairly typical middle-class American lives. With a franchise on nearly every corner, and US-uniformed law enforcement, there are U.S. knock-off schools, and super-markets where up-to-date Kremlin-produced copies of the New York Times and other American periodicals are sold. Yoga and fitness studios exist, and although a few extra pounds are encouraged, there is even a weight-watching franchise to help maintain an “authentic American” populace.

While Russian is required as a second language, naturally-accented American English is in daily use here with pirated American radio and TV delivered by cable. Sesame Street is a local favorite.

Continued on Page B-14

Clickski to se moreski. Подробнее на РБК:

(Dang! Did he forget to translate that?)

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