Russian homeless video blogger finds fame and fortune online

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A homeless man in Moscow has steadily been building himself an army of followers online ever since he started video blogging in May. The self-confessed ‘bum-blogger’ says his videos are so popular because they “show you the Moscow you have not yet seen “.

Russian homeless video blogger finds fame and fortune online

Many of the homeless blogger’s videos have gone viral in Russia, and his YouTube channel – where he goes by ‘Zhenya Yakut’ – now has over 35,000 subscribers. His most-viewed videos have nearly half a million hits, and he has over 3,000 followers on Instagram. Yakut, 43, says he’s been homeless for five years now. Through his videos, he tries to give people the low-down about life as a homeless man in Moscow, including “where to eat for free, to sleep, to wash up, where to go, what to see.”

“I came to the railway station to warm myself up. And there I saw a show on TV with bloggers speaking about their work and making money like that. And the idea crept into my head,” Yakut revealed. “I want to show the people that there is another way of living, not only glamour.” He also hopes to make some money through online advertising.

His videos start with a tour of his ‘sleeping quarters’ – down through a manhole into the underground passage of a heat pipeline, into a chamber that he shares with a stranger. “As you can see, I’ve got everything here: here’s a first aid kit, here’s a needle and thread, and a radio,” he says. When the radio fails to work, he adds: “The battery’s dead. Well, no big deal.” Yakut tries to make his videos interesting and interactive. At the end of the first video, he gave his viewers a challenge – to find a $10 bill he had saved, stuffed in a plastic bottle, and placed inside a drainpipe somewhere in the city.

Yakut’s videos are shot by a man named Andrei Voodoo, who also uploads the videos on his behalf. Not much is revealed about how they managed to obtain the technical know-how or the equipment needed for the videos. Some commenters suspect that Yakut might be posing as a homeless man, but he insists that his story is true. He might look too neat, but he says that’s because he maintains a dress code so he can gain access to public bathrooms and fast food restaurants.

So far, Yakut has sold discarded books to make a few bucks – a used bookstore pays him at least 10 rubles for his trouble – but he hopes to be able to live off his online income soon. “They said it was possible to make a lot of money through a blog,” he told reporters. To increase his chances of earning a decent living online, the man also set up a page on Russia’s social networking website VKontakte, where he writes about the ‘seamy side of a bright metropolis’. “Every subscriber and every click on an ad help me get closer to a normal life,” he added.
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