Traditions of village life gracing the present

Small village of Tinevichi in Korelichi District left without residents several years ago
By Anna Vetkova

Houses stood empty and it was decided to demolish them with a bulldozer. Then, a couple of years ago, a visitor found the neglected village surrounded by forest and bought three houses, alongside a few land lots for development. The village is now truly reviving, with nine more houses added and further construction in full swing. Soon, an unusual tourist site will open in Tinevichi, recreating early 20th century village life.

25km separate Tinevichi from Korelichi, with a newly asphalted road replacing the old gravel track. Driving under the hanging boughs of oak trees, ashes, maples and alders, with hardly a ray of sun penetrating the canopy, I almost became quite lost on the unfamiliar path. Finally, I saw the village and certainly couldn’t call it ‘neglected’. The roar of tractors and mowing machines and rattle of hammers was heard everywhere. Builders are working every day to help Minsker Pavel Radyukevich breathe new life into Tinevichi. 

He admits that he found the village quite by chance and was immediately drawn to the beauty of the surrounding countryside. Lake Svityaz is located within 5km and it’s only 35km to Mir Castle, while being one hour by car from Minsk. Mr. Radyukevich’s plan to transform Tinevichi into an attractive tourist site is based not on the latest innovations but on recreating a simple village atmosphere, as reigned a hundred years ago.

Of course, his grand plan requires more than just money; huge determination and desire are essential. He had to visit dozens of administrative offices to complete the paperwork to buy three empty houses for himself and his daughter Anna. He also registered Belye Luga farm in Tinevichi and purchased land for it, which is now occupied by homes brought from similar neglected villages.

It’s a great pleasure to walk through the village, with its cobbled street; it looks magnificent, despite being overgrown with grass. Homes have appeared on several empty sites, each furnished inside to show a near-forgotten way of life from the past. Each home has electricity (with metres installed outside to allow easy reading) and water pipes are being laid.
Fortunately, visitors will have plenty to amuse them in the evenings. A large wooden tavern is being built and a pond has been created, stocked with fish. Keen hunters are being catered for and feeding stations have been installed for wild animals beyond the village. There’s even a bee yard at Belye Luga Farm and fruit and vegetable plots for growing fresh produce.
Sadly, I missed out on meeting Mr. Radyukevich, as he was on holiday, but his son Ivan (who also owns a site in the village) was happy to chat. He explained, “We’re awaiting our first tourists this autumn; they’ll be staying in four cottages. Within 18-24 months, the whole site will be open, including three more saunas. Our farm will be at full strength, growing wheat and potatoes, as well as breeding pigs and rabbits.”

Ruslan Abramchik, the Deputy Chairman of the Korelichi District Executive Committee, is convinced that empty buildings deserve to receive attention. “In this way, we can expand the local budget. Moreover, if rural tourism takes off, it’ll bring in additional revenue. We have a lot of work to do, naturally. Five years ago, 98 houses were considered ‘empty’ in our district, with 36 becoming the property of the Rural Council by court order. Some have since been demolished while others have been either inherited or sold. There are now just 43 empty houses on the register; we’re still deciding what to do with them.”
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