The Kuntsevo Dacha was Joseph Stalin's personal residence near the former town of Kuntsevo (then Moscow Oblast, now part of Moscow's Fili district), where he lived for the last two decades of his life and died on 5 March 1953, although he also spent much time inside the Kremlin, where he possessed living quarters next to his offices. The dacha is located inside a forest not far from the modern-day Victory Park.
The so-called "nearer dacha" (Ближняя дача) was built in 1933-34 to Miron Merzhanov's designs. One storey was added to the original building in 1943. It was in Kuntsevo where Stalin lived during World War II. It was there that he played host to such high-profile guests as Winston Churchill and Mao Zedong.
The dacha is located at the heart of a densely wooded birch forest; its defenses included a double-perimeter fence, camouflaged 30-millimeter antiaircraft guns, and a security force of three hundred NKVD (after 1946, MGB) special troops. The grounds included lemon and apple trees, a rose garden, a small pond, and a watermelon patch which Stalin liked to cultivate. There was also a sports ground for playing gorodki.
Upon entering the dacha, there was a lobby with two cloakrooms; to the left a door opened to Stalin's personal study, where he spent most of the day. Directly in front, a door opened to the large dining room, while to the right there was a long narrow corridor.
The rectangular dining room was dominated by a long polished table and covered with rose carpets. It was decorated with images of Lenin and of the writer Maxim Gorky. It was in this room that Stalin welcomed the Soviet Politburo for meetings and late-night dinners, and where important decisions were often taken. An "almost invisible" door placed on the wall in one side of the dining room led to Stalin's bedroom, and to a kitchen.
On the left-hand side of the dacha, there was Stalin's personal study (where he spent most of the day when at Kuntsevo) with his large war-time desk, a radio that was a gift from Winston Churchill (when he first visited Moscow, in August 1942) and a couch; Stalin preferred to sleep on this couch, instead of his bedroom. The bathroom was located next to Stalin's study.
On the right-hand side, the long narrow corridor led initially to two bedrooms (mostly used for accommodating occasional guests) and eventually to a large open veranda. Stalin spent much time in this veranda; he would sit in a chair there during winter, despite the heavy cold, wearing a warm sheepskin coat and a fur hat. He also liked to read books and reports and feed the birds while at the veranda.
The Soviet leader seldom left his study, let alone visited the second storey (although a lift was installed on his orders). This storey was originally intended to accommodate his daughter Svetlana, but she used to stay there for only a few days each year. As a result, the rooms there remained dark and empty for most of the time.
After Stalin's death the Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin Institute set up a commission to make arrangements for a Stalin museum at Kuntsevo. Nikita Khrushchev discarded the idea, and the dacha stood unoccupied for several decades.
The dacha today
The building is still shrouded in secrecy. The grounds are fenced and closed to ordinary visitors. However, it is still preserved in good condition, along with all of Stalin's personal belongings, including his study with the war-time desk and the sofa where he slept.
Upon becoming President of Russia in 2000, Vladimir Putin summoned the most powerful business oligarchs of Russia in Kuntsevo, in what was described as a "very symbolic" move by Sergei Pugachev, a participant in that meeting; another participant was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who said that, by summoning them at Kuntsevo and sitting in Stalin's office, Putin "wanted us to understand that we, as big businessmen, may have some power, but it is nothing compared to his power as the head of state." Khodorkovsky "did not take that message to heart" and wound up serving 10 years in prison, on charges of tax evasion.
- Rubentein, Joshua (31 May 2016). The Last Days of Stalin. Yale University Press).
- Zhores Medvedev, Roy Medvedev. The Unknown Stalin. ISBN 978-1-85043-980-6. Page 61.
- Shuster, Simon (September 20, 2018). "How Putin's Oligarchs Got Inside the Trump Team". TIME. Retrieved May 11, 2019.