During my visit to Moscow I visited different historical landmarks in the city and got to get the “feel” of the city. I visited Red Square, crossed the Krymsky Bridge, went to Moscow City (where I had a pleasant conversation with a very nice lady who was babysitting her grandson), visited Moscow State University, visited a residential district near the outskirts of Moscow, and of course, traveled on the Metro. I found Moscow to be a huge city bustling with activity. Stores appeared well-stocked and basic public services in place and functioning. I saw few street people and relatively little graffiti. I saw no evidence of people starving and no evidence of political discord or instability. I saw no evidence of anti-Americanism or of a country that was in dire distress. Indeed, Moscow contains scores of McDonalds, Burger Kings and other American style fast food places. Although
I saw housing that was shoddy by American standards, However, I also saw upscale expensive neighborhoods. Compared to New York City, ethically, Moscow’s population is far less diverse. I saw very few black people, no Hispanics, no Hasidic Jews, no one wearing kippurs, and no Indians (not even who were tourists). The only Chinese I saw were tourists. The only fairly sizeable minority group I saw were central Asians. However, the vast majority of the people in Moscow were white and Russian. Linguistically, Russian is the dominant language. Although, some Russians know English, Russian is spoken everywhere and by everyone, regardless of ethnicity.
There were lots of tourists. However, most tended to stay close to the Red Square area which is highly commercialized. Travel away from Red Square and no tourists are to be found. Some impressions about Red Square: Red Square is one of the most impressive public meeting places in the world. It is huge, can easily accommodate hundreds of thousands of people, and is beautifully designed. It is bordered by the GUM on the east and the Kremlin on the west. The Kremlin itself is an immense fortress. It has several; towers, several of which overlook the Moscow River which winds through the city.
Although it was mid-April, during my entire visit the weather was sunny and reasonably warm. On two occasions the temperature approached 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people told me that I had lucked out with the weather.
Regarding the character of the Russian people, I can say without reservation that I detected no evidence of any kind of cultural decadence or social dysfunctionality that would suggest a society in dissolution or decline. What I did see was a city in which millions of people live, work, live and get on with their lives.
Russia is not in denial of its Communist past. This is evident by the presence of an immense statue of Karl Marx located in square right in the heart of the city, visible to all, and to the series of immense buildings built during Stalin’s regime whose presence still dominate the Moscow landscape. Two of those buildings are now hotels.
Follow up Remarks
I visited Moscow for a second time in June 2018. More comments about Russia.
- The Russian language has no comparable letters for the English letters x, j and h. Also, it has no indefinite articles such as “a” and “the.”
- Unlike every city in the West, Moscow has no newspaper stands and people are not seen reading newspapers.
- Russian television carries no reports about opposition parties or talk about upcoming elections.
- Russia has adopted the trappings of U.S. commercialism. This process has included incorporating numerous English words into the Russian language.
- Russian media reports no tensions or conflicts between the President and the Duma. During his visits to Russia, this writer witnessed no evidence of a robust political debate that characterizes Western politics.
- This writer believes that centuries of autocratic rule plus decades of Communist dictatorship plus several invasions of Russia plus the rapid destabilization of Russia immediately following the disintegration of the Soviet Union has given Russia cause to prefer a form of government that will provide political stability.