Disillusioned Russian ex-lawyer opts for Hobbit-like existence

MOSCOW, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Three years ago, Yury Alekseyev became disillusioned with the concrete walls of his one-room Moscow apartment and his daily commute to work in a law firm, and began to think about building a new home.

Picking up a shovel, he abandoned his career and headed 40 miles northeast. Selecting a spot by the road in some woodland, he dug a Zemlyanka, or a Russian underground dugout.

Now he is known as the "Russian hobbit."

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Former lawyer known as a 'Russian hobbit'
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Former lawyer known as a 'Russian hobbit'

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", pats a rabbit named Petrushka at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", leaves his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", is seen reflected in a mirror at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", looks at a rabbit named Petrushka at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", sits at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", holds a torch as a truck drives along a road near his underground home in the forest northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", uses a mobile device at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", is pictured at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", fills a canister with fuel near his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", uses a mobile device at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", is seen reflected in a mirror at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", walks near his underground home with a rabbit named Petrushka in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", has a meal at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", jumps from the roof of his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

A rabbit named Petrushka sits next to Yury Alekseyev, a former lawyer from Moscow who is called a "Russian hobbit", at his underground home in the forest on the side of the road northeast from Moscow, Russia February 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

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Alekseyev doesn't live like a hermit. His pet rabbit Petrushka shares his meals of peas and soy sauce. Friends and strangers drop by to exchange books from the 42-year-old's library of more than 4,500 titles. Some bring food or fuel. Others pay his internet bill.

He has a computer, a cell phone, an iPad, and thousands of followers on social media and through his blog.

He's not tempted to go back. Life in Russia under President Vladimir Putin dispirits him.

He does have hopes for one politician - Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption activist who has said he wants to run for the presidency at elections next year.

"Navalny has become the only chance to have at least some kind of choice," said Alekseyev.

But even if Navalny wins the election, it may not coax him out of his hobbit hole.

(Reporting by Mikhail Antonov; Writing by Peter Hobson; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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