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Moscow Impressions

I have just finished my one and only day in Moscow. My memories of it thirty years ago are predictably dominated by the Kremlin, Red Square etc. People have said that it has changed, well not to me. Yes, the ring roads (Moscow is a city of ring roads) were full of people who clearly were under the impression that the city was hosting a Grand Prix, and GUM, the department store on Red Square (pictured), was uber consumerist, but the City has not lost its massive dignity, the architectural homage to the big events of the twentieth century. Those commentators who claim that the end of communism has seen a rather unseemly rush to unbridled hedonism are wrong: the place still exudes a dignity that comes from suffering, and a humble expectation of further thunderclaps to come. There is great inequality, no doubt: however, one nomenklatura has simply given way to another whose currency of supremacy (money) is so much more recognisable in the West. Moscow seems huge and impressive, no doubt helped by the gorgeous weather. Its buildings feel almost Venetian in parts, shared with more Stalinist stuff that speaks of a struggle almost too desperate for this Western ponce to appreciate.

Which brings me to my thought of the day (you have a delicious amount of time with your own thoughts when on your own, even as you feel a gnawing loneliness). Everything is so extreme with Russia: the climate, the politics, the history. Looking at the (still) ubiquitous images of Lenin, he feels less a product of the international (and nuanced) religion of Marxism and more another Russian with a great idea and very little tolerance for other ideas – more like the Russian nihilists of the 1870s. Worth a Wiki.

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