Russian Farmer Lands in Esquire and NYC

Vasily Ilyin on the September 2013 cover of Russia's Esquire magazine. (Photo via Esquire Russia)

Vasily Ilyin on the September 2013 cover of Russian Esquire. (Photo via Esquire Russia)

A 67-year-old native of Ryshkovo village in the Kursk region of Russia became the hero of a report in a world-famous magazine about the rules by which ordinary people live. 

The retiree became famous unexpectedly. His neighbor was addressed by an acquaintance from Moscow, whose daughter works as a journalist. Russian Esquire needed a farmer from the heartland. And they found him in the Kursk region, located roughly 350 miles south of Moscow.

Vasily Ilyin was invited to Moscow, and then to New York for a three-day stay.

He came to New York for a photo shoot for the Esquire cover. In addition, the publication shot a 20-minute film about his journey from the Russian hinterland to the biggest city in the U.S.

The reasons for the unprecedented popularity of the villager, who had never been anywhere outside of Kursk, are his charisma and aphorisms. According to Ilyin, he never thought of flying to the other end of the Earth and of having his picture taken for a cover of a magazine. Besides, he left at home his sheep, chickens and a vegetable garden, which require his constant attention.

After a successful photo shoot, Ilyin visited famous tourist attractions and for the first time in his life saw the ocean. Ilyin went to Brighton Beach, saw the Statue of Liberty, hanging bridges, rides, and ships, but admitted that his heart still belongs to his native Ryshkovo.

Vasily Ilyin visits Brighton Beach where he gets his first glimpse of an ocean. "I just wanted to see the sea and got a whole ocean instead." (Photo via video)

Vasily Ilyin visits Brighton Beach where he gets his first glimpse of an ocean. “I just wanted to see the sea and got a whole ocean instead.” (Photo via STEREOTACTIC video below)

After taking in the views, he sighed and got lost in his thoughts for a while. Then he confessed to reporters that there could be nothing better than his small motherland for him.

“My home is a sweet deal: I leave the house and nature is all around. Easy. And these skyscrapers? I built my own skyscraper at home. Although it is just one-story tall, it feels wonderful,” was the way Ilyin summed up his American voyage.

The famous Kuryanin [a Kursk resident in Russian] told reporters that he rues the extinction of Russian villages.

Among his aphorisms, so attractive to American journalists, Ilyin says:

  • “I don’t close the doors at night. I have nothing to steal.”
  • “I am a farmer, a natural one. I had never even worn a tie in my life.”
  • “I do not like the city eggs. Its yolk is as white as the Muscovite women, who travel to the south on a train.”
  • “The brain comes only after you turn 30, not before. But if it did not come by 30, then there is no reason to wait for it.”
  • “In the village there are so few people left that if you were running around naked, no one would even notice.”
  • “Saving up money is just for the greedy.”
  • “Serfdom farmers lived better than we do now.”
  • “If a woman is drunk, she can entice anyone.”
  • “Russian people are reserved, but merry.”

Follow Ilyn from his village in Ryshkovo to New York in a subtitled video from Moscow-based production company STEREOTACTIC:


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