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1.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
2.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Why use a professional moving company, such as Allied Pickfords?
What are the different shipping options and what do I need to take into considerations?
Export and import of artwork and antiques
Export and import of pets. Finding a vet
in Moscow. Adopt a pet
How do I prepare for an international move from or to Russia? How far in advance should I start preparing? Insurance
Customs: taking your personal belongings out of the country when you leave / bringing them into the country
Export and import of motor vehicles
Packing your personal belongings
Other services offered by Allied Pickfords Moscow: full relocation services in association with Delight Realty, local residential moves, office relocations, storage, and packing materials
3.Airports::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Tel: 937-5555, arrivals and departures can also be checked online at Vnukovo International Airport offers its passengers all the comfort and conveniences of its two passenger terminals. Terminal B serves international arrivals and departures whereas Terminal D handles all domestic passenger traffic. Main destinations: (Russia and CIS): Georgia, North Caucasus, Ukraine, Eastern Russia. he Airport’s two passenger terminals offer a total capacity of 6800 pax. per hour with about 120 thousand flights by more than two hundred airlines from all over Russia, the CIS, and beyond, handled at the Airport every year.
From Metro Kievskaya (exit to Kievsky Train Station). Once out on the Train Station forecourt, round the corner of the Station terminal building and a few yards down its front on your left-hand side you will see the entrance portico of the Vnukovo Aeroexpress Terminal. From here you can catch one of the high-speed trains that ply between Moscow and the Airport.
Departure from Kievsky railway station hourly from 07:00 untill 24:00. Departure from Vnukovo hourly from 07:00 untill 24:00. One-way fares are as follows: adult 300 Rbs, child (5 to 7 years of age) - 80 Rbs, children under 5 y.o. - no charge, monthly pass - 5000 Rbs; bimonthly - 8750 Rbs; quarterly - 11250 Rbs.
From Yugo-Zapadnaya: Bus 611 or 611C (express) bus. Your stop is Airport Vnukovo. Fare: 20 Rbs (if bought from a ticket booth), 25 Rbs (if bought from the bus driver). Time of Journey: 25-35 minutes. Buses run every 10 minutes. Taxi vans (route 45). Comfortable Ford vans. Fare: 100 Rbs. Time of Journey: 15-20 minutes. From Metro Oktyabr'skaya (circle line). Taxi vans (route 705M). Comfortable Ford vans. Fare: 130 Rbs. Time of Journey: 35-40 minutes.
There are taxicabs plying between the Airport and the city 24/7. To avoid any incidence of overcharging and guarantee yourself a safe trip, book it with Vnukovo International’s resident taxicab service providers Trans-Free Cabs.
By Car
Motorists have any of three major highway routes to choose when travelling to or from the Airport, the most popular one is via Kievskoe shosse. Both Minskoe and Borovskoe shosse also serve as convenient access routes. Once at the Airport, you will find plenty of both short- and long-term public parking space and options.
Metro Map with Aeroexpress Lines
(press on a map to open a larger version)
4.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Kitai-Gorod::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
"Kitai" in Russian means "China", but Kitai-Gorod is not China-town! There are several theories explaining the origin of this name: according to the most popular one the word "kita" in Old Russian meant a "fence" and this area was in fact surrounded by a big wall; another theory claims that Italian builders brought the word "citta"("city") to Moscow. People started to settle here already in the 11th century. By the 14th century it was an area densely populated by craftsmen and merchants. In order to protect people of the Kremlin and Kitai-Gorod from Tatar and Lithuanian invaders Elena Glinskaya, mother of Ivan the Terrible, decided to dig a moat around the district. Later the moat was replaced by a big stone wall which was constructed in 1538 and destroyed in Soviet time. Inside the walls numerous shops, stores and markets appeared; thus Kitai-Gorod turned into a very important business and trading centre. Three main streets of Kitai-Gorod (Nikolskaya, Ilyinka and Varvarka) split duties a long time ago.
Nikolskaya street may be called the "Place of Enlightenment". It was the location of countless bookshops and "residence" of famous second-hand booksellers where you could find everything from an ancient manuscript to a recent edition of some famous writer. And it was not by accident: in 1564 the first ever Russian printed book "Apostol" came into the world here, in the first ever Russian printing-house run by Ivan Fedorov. A monument to Fedorov is located in Teatralny passage. Later the Institute of History and Archives was built on the place of the first printing-house; in its ornamentation it is still possible to detect motives typical for the old printing-house.
The first Russian high school opened on Nikolskaya street in 1687. Students of Slavic-Greek-Latin Academy could find any book on Nikolskaya and could study diligently. Greeks were professors of the academy and they raised future "father of Russian science" and founder of the Moscow State University - Mikhail Lomonosov.
The shortest street in Moscow, Tretyakovsky passage, embellished by a beautiful arc in Russian style, connects Nikolskaya street and Teatralny passage. Today it is a centre point of the fanciest and most expensive boutiques.
The central street of Kitai-Gorod, Ilyinka, has always been a commercial street. First it was the location of the biggest Moscow market that offered wide range of products; that is well seen in the names of local lanes (Rybny lane ("Fish lane"), Khrustalny lane ("Crystal lane"), Vetoshny lane ("Old Clothes lane"). In the 19th century Ilyinka also became a business centre when biggest banks in Russia and Moscow Stock-Exchange ("Birzha") opened here. Today the imposing Classical-style building of Birzha houses the Russian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
In the beginning of Ilyinka there is one of the most important trading centres in Moscow - Gostiny Dvor. The word "gost" ("guest") used to have the meaning "merchant" and Gostiny Dvor, sumptuous creation of architect Giacomo Kvarengi, gathered hundreds of representatives of this profession.
The street was named after the Church of St. Varvara, the patroness of trade. The church stands in the very beginning of Varvarka since the 16th century. Imperishable relics of St. Varvara were said to cure people for serious diseases. Another famous Church of Maxim the Blessed was built in the 17th century and is known as "Moscow Pisa Tower" due to its sloping walls. Russia has always treated the so-called "blessed" people with a special care as they were believed to be able to prophesy.
One of the oldest civil stone buildings in Moscow is situated on Varvarka - it is the Old English Court. It was built in the 15-16th centuries by merchant Bobrishchev who was actively trading with Britain. Ivan the Terrible presented the chambers to British merchants but after 100 years of owning this house they were forced to leave it: Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich was filled with indignation by the execution of Karl I in England and ordered to deport British merchants.
In the 16th century house No 10 belonged to boyar Nikita Romanovich Zakharyin-Yuriev, grandfather of the first Russian Tsar of Romanov dynasty - Mikhail Romanov. This family also owned Znamensky monastery; Znamensky cathedral has preserved to our days.
Other famous streets of Kitai-Gorod area are Pokrovka, Maroseika and Solyanka.
Pokrovka street crosses the boulevard ring between Chistoprudny and Pokrovsky boulevards. At first Pokrovka was a small countryside road with the river Rachka, which was constantly bursting its banks and leaving everywhere a lot of mud and silt. This unattractive road led to Rubtsovo and Izmailovo, favourite estates of many Russian tsars, and later many grandees from the tsars' retinue settled here. Obliging noblemen tried to make royal trips as pleasant as possible, that is why Pokrovka was "ennobled", the road was paved and new beautiful houses were built. In the end of the 19th century noblemen were ousted by merchants, and countless shops and little markets flooded the area. When Kursky railway station was opened in 1860s, Pokrovka street became cluttered with cheap hotels, inns and workshops.
Some signs of Pokrovka's "noble" past are preserved till now. Magnificent blue-white palace, often called "the chest of drawers" is a rare sample of Elizabethan baroque designed by architect Ukhtomsky. A legend tells that Alexander Pushkin used to take dancing classes this very building, which by then belonged to his relatives Trubetskiye. In 1861 a gymnasium opened here; it brought up such outstanding students as the father of modern theatre Konstantin Stanislavsky and the founder of Soviet aviation Nikolay Zhukovsky.
Maly Kazenny lane, once famous for a hospital for the poor, runs parallel to Pokrovka street. Here in the middle of the 19th century doctor F. Gaaz, "the holy doctor", helped hundreds of people in need. Gaaz was also the head doctor of Moscow prisons, and criminals adored him for his love of people and kindness to outcasts. His motto "Don't be late to do good" is written on the monument to this great person.
Pokrovka originally was longer, but in the 17th century it was divided into two parts, one of them kept the old name, the other became Maroseika street. Actually it was called Malorosseika (Malorossiya is an old designation for the Ukraine), but later the name changed a little bit. The Ukraine joined Russia in 1654 and many Ukrainians migrated to the new capital. They were (and still are) humorously called "khokhly" ("tufts of hair") due to their extravagant haircuts: they used to shave heads leaving a long tuft of hair on the top. Local street names still remind us about them: Khokhlovskaya square, Khokhlovsky lane, Church of Trinity in Khokhlovka. Ukrainian commanders, hetmans, used to stay in Maroseika during their visits.
Embassy of another neighbouring country, Byelorussia, occupies magnificent palace with beautiful stucco mouldings and sumptuous interiors. It was built in 1780-1796 after a project by Vasily Bazhenov for field-marshal Rumyantsev-Zadunaisky, hero of Russian-Turkish war. Across the street, right opposite the Bazhenov's palace, there is the Church of Kozma and Damian by Kozakov. Another church stands in the beginning of Maroseika, the Church of St. Nikolay in Blinniki. Its name has a rather appetizing story: once the smell of pancakes spread around the neighbourhood making people's stomachs rumble, as pancakes-sellers came here with their tasty goods ("bliny" means "pancakes"). This traditional Russian food gave the name Blinniki to the area and later to the church.
While walking along Maroseika check Starosadsky lane with the magnificent Ivanovsky convent. Lost in Moscow courtyards, it was founded in the 16th century by Ivan the Terrible's mother Elena Glinskaya. This convent served not only as a shelter for nuns, but also as a prison. It remembers mysterious Princess Tarakanova, claimed to be the daughter of Tsarina Elizabeth and Count Razumovsky. Tsarina Catherine the Great regarded her as a threat to own power and kept Princess Tarakanova in solitary confinement for many years.
Another famous prisoner of this convent was Darya Saltykova. This serf owner showed incredible "creativity", making up new kinds of tortures for her serfs. In the 20th century this prison tradition was carried on, this time the CheKa brought here its victims.
The Maroseika area is the one to keep in mind while choosing the apartment. Despite its proximity to the city center and being dominated by offices and retail stores, this district is surprisingly quiet and very convenient. Most of the apartments in this area are spacious and have high ceilings.
Once Solyanka laid among beautiful royal gardens, but the growing city had no mercy for those green plantations. Houses supplanted trees, exhaust replaced oxygen and fresh air, and quiet countryside road became a busy city street. The name Solyanka literally means "Salty Street", and it was the "saltiest" street indeed: many salt warehouses were located here.
Not only gastronomically important objects were found in Solyanka. House No 14 was once occupied by the Board of Guardians; orphanages, hospitals, almshouses, and banks in Russia were under its jurisdiction. Sumptuous and monumental, the building is a marvellous sample of Moscow Empire Style, built by architects Gilardi and Grigoriev. Today it houses the Academy of Medical Science.
One of the foundling hospitals, managed by Board of Guardians, was once in the next house. It was established in 1763 with special permission of Her Majesty Catherine the Great. Children-orphans studied different subjects, reading, writing, drawing, later some of them were sent to work in workshops and factories; others continued their academic carrier in university, Academy of art, medical schools; most talented ones were sent to study abroad. The motto of this institution is depicted in two allegorical figures, guarding the entrance, "Charity" and "Education".
Kitai-Gorod adjoins the Taganka area.
The district "Taganka" is located between the rivers: Moscow and Yauza. In 1632, this settlement combined 93 courts. But the street Taganskaya itself has an earlier origin - from the 14th century. It was a part of the road to Kolomna, Ryazan and other cities. After a fire in 1812, many large and beautiful stone houses were built along the street. Some of these houses were converted to factories by their owners. In 1867, more than 60% of the houses belonged to merchants, some of whom were at the time already bestowed the title of honorary citizen. Taganka acquired industrial features and the first decade of the 20th century finally turned Taganka into one of the largest industrial areas of Moscow. Although, by that time, the inhabitants there were no longer merchants, but the working class. After the revolution, the area was called "the Proletarian" up until 1936, when it was named "Taganskaya".
5.Outings::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Hit the Beach!
When it gets hot, there is nothing like sun, sand - and whatever inland surf you can muster. Here are some leading Moscow beaches.
Swimming Pools
If you don't want to trek to the beach, take a dip in one of a number of swimming pools. Most pools require a medical certificate, which you can get right at the pool for an extra charge, or from your regular doctor or neighbourhood clinic. Here are some Moscow swimming pools.
River Cruises
There is no better way to sit back and enjoy the sights on a hot summer day than a two hour cruise on one of the boats that ply the Moscow River. The boats feature an upper level open-air deck and a closed deck below. Most have a bar that offers liquor, soft drinks and some snacks.
You can embark and disembark from any pier, but we recommend starting from the Kievsky Bridge and riding all the way to the end point at Novospassky Monastery. From there you can either pay another fare (you have to get off and go to the cashier's booth) or catch a cab or bus. Piers are located at: Kievsky Bridge, Vorobyovy Gory, Frunzenskaya Embankment, Park Kultury, Estrada Theatre, Rossia Hotel, Novospassky Bridge. The boats run from 11:00 until 21:00 daily, sometimes a bit later on the weekends, at half-hour intervals. The ticket price is 400 Rbs for adults, 150 Rbs for children, children up to 6 year old - free of charge.
There are also cruises of one to seven hours departing from both the Northern Riverboat Terminal (Severny Rechnoi Vokzal) and the Southern Riverboat Terminal. A seven-hour cruise from the Northern Riverboat Terminal includes a three-hour stop at a beach area. The ticket prices range from 250 to 800 Rbs for adults, and from 100 to 300 Rbs for children. The boats run from 06:15 until 21:30 daily. You can find detailed information here.
Summer Verandas
"Grab the day!" as the ancient philosophers said... why sit indoors looking at those same four walls when you could enjoy a drink or a meal outdoors in the glorious sunshine? The Moscow Expat Site's coolest insiders share their top tips for al fresco grazing in a specially updated listing of Summer Terraces where you can relax outdoors.
City Parks and Estates
Moscow has many large and pleasant parks. Some are plain parks, others have ponds or beaches and yet others contain old palaces, estates or other places of interest. Most parks are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Note that most neighbourhoods also have smaller local parks, some of which have playgrounds.

Hiking and Running
Virtually every Sunday morning, come snow, sleet or heat, a group of Russians, expats, and short-term visitors gathers for a 10 to 15-km hike. For the latest schedule visit the Community Calendar. For runners there is the Hash House Harriers, who like to describe themselves as drinkers with a running problem. They meet just by the entrance of the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall (last doors from the metro entrance, under the overhang, near the Mayakovskaya metro exit on Tverskaya ul.) to run or walk in a local park for 40 minutes to an hour at a gentle pace. Again, you can visit the Community Calendar for the latest schedule.
Sports Opportunities
If you are a sport fan, you can choose one of the following venues:
Aero Clubs
Dive Centers
Golf Clubs
Horse Riding Clubs
Paintball Clubs
Squash Courts
Tennis Courts
Water Parks
Yachting & Windsurfing Clubs
Outside Moscow
Summer is perfect for exploring neighbourhoods, the more especially as Moscow Region offers so many beautiful places waiting to be discovered. You have so many options to spend a fabulous weekend far away from the noise, dust and everyday problem. Commuter trains (elektrichkas) are at your services covering all possible destinations outside Moscow. You can just blindly point to a map and experience the fun of an extremely unprepared and unplanned trip. Or you can plan it all in advance, booking a room in one of many country hotels, located from 5 to 50 km away from Moscow. Driving is another option. You can drive your own car, or hire one from the car rental company.
6.Shopping::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Food Shopping
Shopping in Moscow could be done day and night and you can find anything you want. Food shopping is very easy, and the choice of supermarkets - both Western and Russian - and products is huge. There are a number of shopping opportunities, ranging from small convenience stores located close to apartment blocks and metro stations to huge shopping centers found everywhere, including the city outskirts.
For those who like to shop in supermarkets, there is a variety of different chains, offering a wide range of products, including some that are popular particularly within the expatriate community. There are also farmer's markets where you can buy fresh goods directly from the producers.
Last but not least, you will find numerous smaller "kiosks" (small booths or stalls) all over town. Concentrations are particularly high outside metro stations. Some sell a variety of beverages, cigarettes and chocolates while others specialize in bread, fruit and vegetables, meat products, or toiletries. Some sell products made by a particular factory (meat and sausages in particular).
Many supermarkets are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Smaller food stores and food markets are also usually open seven days a week but many close around 9 or 10 p.m. Payment is accepted in rubles only, some of the larger supermarkets accept credit cards (usually they will ask for some photo-ID document). Along with food items and beverages, most supermarkets also sell a variety of other household items - from toiletries, cleaning liquids, detergents, and small selections of kitchenware to pantyhose, magazines and toys.
You should be able to find most of the items you're used to in Moscow. In addition to the locally produced goods, vast numbers of imported food products, and beverages are readily available here. Russian bread, milk products, sausage meats, salads, pancakes and frozen food (such as pelmeni, filled pancakes, vegetable patties, frozen dough, etc) are of excellent quality and taste great.
Carrying large bags, satchels, briefcases or similar bulky items is not allowed in most shops - small lockers are provided near the entrance, which you should use. In some supermarkets there are no lockers but at the entrance you will find a man or a woman with plastic bags of different size - you are supposed to put your bags (satchels or briefcases) in the plastic bag that will be sealed with a special device, and keep it with you while shopping. Most supermarkets charge a tiny fee for carrier bags - others provide very poor ones for free, while offering more substantial ones for a small price. Few Russians have heard of the issue of voluntarily limiting the use of plastic bags for ecological reasons.

Food Markets
What is a Russian "rynok" (market)? This word refers to a typical Russian farmer's market. These markets are located throughout the city and vary in size and pricing, but they all operate year round, seven days a week (except public holidays). Most farmer's markets have separate smaller buildings for such staple crops as potatoes, cabbage, onions, and carrots and for marinated garlic, cucumbers and wine leaves. The main hall usually has plenty of fruits and vegetables, spices, herbs, milk products, honey, fish, meat and poultry. Note that the word "rynok" can also refer to a wholesale market, which mostly has canned, boxed and pre-packed foodstuffs along with various household items; to a clothing market; or to a building materials market.
Things to Remember while Shopping at Markets
Bring a basket - you'll probably end up buying more than you planned.
Many vendors will offer you a sample of their product. Bear in mind that fruit and vegetables at the market have not been washed if you accept this offer.
Make sure you understand whether the price is for a kilo (za kilogram) or for one item (za adnu shtuku).
Don't forget to bargain, especially when buying fruit and vegetables. Many vendors at the market come from the Caucasus, where bargaining is an essential part of shopping.
Be careful when purchasing meat in the summertime - it is often not refrigerated.
Check you change - mistakes can and do happen.
Markets tend to be crowded, so beware of pickpockets. Do not carry your keys, passports and money in a lady's purse. Stow them away in a safe place. Never put documents, keys or money in the back pocket of your pants.
Buying Caviar
Be aware that black caviar (sturgeon caviar) is now under very tight legal controls which make it effectively impossible to purchase in Russia - Russian policy has changed, and they now take the Endangered Species of sturgeons very seriously. Do not get involved in buying it - in addition to the moral issues involved, you can end up in jail. Red caviar (salmon caviar) on the other hand is completely legal to purchase (and to take abroad with you) and is just as delicious.
Russia produces a large variety of chocolates, bonbons, other candy, and cakes. Large supermarkets often have a separate section selling cakes. While Russians prefer to buy entire cakes, many stores now sell individual pieces. The most famous Russia chocolate factories are Krasny Oktyabr, Rot-Front, Babaevsky. Russian chocolate is of highest quality.
Wines, whisky, and other quality alcoholic beverages are now widely available in Moscow - but only from shops. Street kiosks and stands cannot sell anything stronger than beer by law. Russian-produced wines may be different to the taste you are used to, but you might like to try them - there are no bargains here, and the cheapest ones are cheap for a reason. In addition to a dazzling array of vodkas, Russian-produced cognacs can be enjoyable - once again, avoid the low-priced stuff if you can.
Reading Expiration Dates
Figuring out expiration dates for food products and beverages can be tricky affair in Russia. The vast majority of imported products have the expiration date stamped, printed or engraved on either the top or bottom of the container or can or on the lid. Some (for example, baby food) have both the production and expiration data. Some local producers have already switched to this system. However, you need to be aware of the fact that some Russian companies still print the production and not the expiration date on their products, which can cause confusion. In such cases you will find the production date printed and a message saying: "This product can be kept for 'x' months/years from the production date" somewhere on the can, container or packaging. This most often applies to eggs, Russian canned goods, Russian chocolate, some milk products and pre-packaged bread. Yet other products (for example, some Russian juices and milk products) may come with both the production and expiration data). As everywhere in the world, check the dates if you are suspicious
Peculiarities of Communication with Vendors
You may find that vendors become impatient when you are unable to explain to them what you want. Please don't be offended - this is not because they don't like you personally. Shop assistants are paid to serve the public, but not to be especially polite or charming to the customers - don't take their offhand attitude personally. In privately-run shops, or at kiosks being run by the owner service can sometimes be charming, especially if you become a "regular" - you may even begin to enjoy "privileges" such as them keeping-back the best fruit for you, or saving something for you in case you drop by.
Clothing and Accessories
Clothing, shoes and accessories can also be purchased everywhere, with the options ranging from everyday affordable to designer and haute couture. The most expensive outlets such as Chanel and Hermes are located on Tretyakovsky passage and Stoleshnikov lane; while the less expansive clothing lines, such as H&M, Zara etc. can be found in many Moscow shopping centers, e.g. Mega Mall, Stockmann, Metropolis. In the last 2-3 years a range of city-centre shopping malls have opened where you can find franchises of international chains like Fat Face, Benetton, Marks & Spencers, Uniqlo etc. The two largest malls are Evropeisky (adjacent to Kievsky station) and Atrium (adjacent to Kursky station) - these have substantially superceded the previous generation of malls, whose weary ranges are still on sale to those who haven't yet found the better places.
Among the great variety of shops, boutiques, fashion salons and galleries in modern Moscow there are those that enter the "must see" category. Along with Kremlin and the Red Square they head the list of the main tourist attractions. Among them are GUM, TsUM, and Okhotny Ryad.
GUM (Main Universal (Department) Store)
Known before the Revolution as Upper Trade Rows, GUM has been "a shopping center" of Moscow for ages. Its luxuriant edifice houses three arcades of shops under a glass roof. Recently renovated, it lost all the traces of Soviet stagnation and now houses some top Western trade chains along with speciality shops and boutiques. GUM's image has mutated considerably from soviet grot to opulent elegance - it's now a location for premium brands. Russians coming to Moscow from other cities still come to GUM to shop, but Muscovites have mostly moved-on from GUM's overpriced and somewhat snooty outlets. It is worth coming here to see the extraordinarily beautiful building itself, and perhaps have a coffee in one of the upper galleries - but there are better places for actual shopping these days.
TsUM (Central Universal (Department) Store)
Another large department store of Moscow, TsUM, traces its history since 1880s, when Scotsmen Archibald Merilees and Andrew Muir founded the branch of their trading company "Muir and Merilees" in Moscow. In 1892 "Muir and Merilees" department store welcomed the first customers in the new building on Petrovka street. The modern building was erected in 1908 after a project by Roman Klein; that time it was considered to be a technical breakthrough and an architectural masterpiece. Moscow tour guides usually classify it as "one of the last samples of European Gothic, slightly influenced by Art Nouveau". Completely reconstructed in 1997, TsUM now complies all international standards of service, though it's too expensive for most ordinary Muscovites. Muscovites in-the-know generally consider TsUM better than GUM as an upscale retailer of premium-priced branded goods - but no-one does their daily shopping at either.
Okhotny Ryad
Located right near Kremlin, this underground three-storeyed shopping palace serves also as one of the main tourist sights. Plenty of shops and boutiques, offering wide range of goods, are located in this shopping centre. World most famous brands, such as Mexx, Calvin Klein, Tissot, along with less famous but also less expensive, are represented in "Okhotny Ryad", satisfying taste and requirements of customers of different personal income. The noisy and hot, sticky atmosphere isn't appreciated by all, although a teenage public likes to hang out there. But most shoppers are increasingly attracted by the much wider range of shops, and nicer facilities and services, at Evropeisky or Atrium, or the out-of-town malls like Mega.
7.Health Care::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Health Care
General Information
The Russian health care system has seen major improvements in recent years, both in technologies and pharmaceuticals. Moscow hosts a number of Western medical clinics that can look after all of your family's health needs. The clinics are spread out over the city; therefore, regardless of your location, there is sure to be medical provision in the vicinity.
When coming to Russia, bring a good supply of any prescription medicine needed. Ensure you can continue that supply from a local facility or that you can find a local substitute acceptable to your original prescribing physician.
Early in your stay - when there is no emergency - identify the closest medical facility with English-speaking personnel. Ascertain its working hours and its reputation, if possible. If in Moscow for the first time, bring a copy of your medical records with you to assist your new doctor in becoming familiar with your past medical history. The approach to the provision of medical care as a service to both the population and the individual may be quite different to what you are used to.
Unless absolutely necessary, as in major medical emergency, it is suggested that you do not go to the local hospital on your own without first contacting your medical assistance company; if you must, at least ensure you have a Russian speaker to assist you. Unsure that you have enough money to guarantee any admission fees that may be charged.
Many medications can be purchased here over the counter that would only be available by prescription in your home country. However, in most cases the manufacture is different and, therefore, the drug is identified by a different brand name. Know the generic (chemical) name of your medicines if you think you are going to need to restock locally. Bring the package insert from your previous prescription with you. Fraudulent drugs are not a major problem in Russia, but be careful and check the dispensed drug before you pay for it.
Some medications including controlled drugs and drugs of dependence (i.e., sedatives and hypnotics; medications to treat the hyperactivity disorders of children; strong pain relievers; and some drugs for diabetics and epileptics) are simply nor available in Russia. If you are on such a medication, please speak to your physician in your home country and a physician at one of the medical clinics in Moscow to find out how to best handle this situation.
Russia has no vaccination requirements, but it is a good idea to keep your shots op-to-date. If you need a shot while here, please contact one of the medical centers in Moscow. The following vaccinations are recommended for individuals traveling to or living in Russia for linger periods of time:
Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or are exposed through medical treatment.
Typhoid. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected.
As needed, booster doses for tetanus, diphtheria and measles. Outbreaks of diphtheria have been reported in states of the former Soviet Union.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral infection of the central nervous system that occurs in the southern parts of the non-tropical forest belt in Europe and Asia, including Russia. Travelers are at risk who visit or work in forested areas during the summer months and who consume unpasteurized dairy products.
Rabies, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking or cycling or engaging in certain occupation activities.
Skin Care
Newcomers frequently have difficulty in adjusting to the dry air conditions in their apartments. Ladies complain of dry skin, broken fingernails, etc. Most women find that they use extra face cream. An electric humidifier helps a great deal. It is also useful to place pans of water around you apartment.
Eye Care
Dry, cold and polluted air is hard on eyes, especially if you wear contact lenses. Users are advised to give eyes a rest from contact lenses from time to time. It is advisable to have spare lenses or glasses with you. You can purchase all kinds and brands of imported prescription and non-prescription contact lenses (including Johnson & Johnson, Bausch & Lomb, etc), colored contact lenses, contact lens cleaners, glasses (including designer frames) and sunglasses at any larger optician's.
Most of them have qualified opticians or ophthalmologists and sophisticated equipment and will carry out a complete eye exam before fitting you with contact lenses or glasses. Fees for the eye exam are usually very moderate. Do not expect the ophthalmologists or consultants to speak English though. If you have just started you Russian lessons, take someone along who can communicate in Russian. Most pharmacies carry imported contact lens cleaners and moisturizing eye drops, while contact lens containers may only be available from specialist shops.
Digestion Care
Generally, it is advisable not to buy meat or diary products from anywhere other than a reputable market or shop. Meat purchased in the market should be inspected carefully to ascertain its freshness, and particular care should be taken in the summer months because of lack of refrigeration. Any meat bought at a market should be well cooked. Diary products bought at outdoor markets may not be pasteurized and should not be given to young children or consumed by pregnant women. All fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before eating. Water from the tap is suitable for cooking, but people normally filter drinking water or use bottled water.
Health Care Insurance
Before coming to Moscow, make sure you have full medical and dental insurance coverage for yourself and all family members that will cover any emergencies (and medical evacuation) that occur during your stay in the Russian federation. Western medical and dental services in Russia are very expensive if you are not covered.
If you are not insured when coming to Russia, please contact several Moscow medical centers to find out whether they offer their own insurance plans, or ask them for recommendations of reputable companies in Moscow or abroad that offer health insurance for expatriates. If you already have insurance, call the medical or dental clinic you intend to visit to make sure that they accept and have a direct billing agreement with your insurance company and which, if any, restrictions apply in an emergency situation. If you are not insured or your insurance plan requires you to pre-pay all services for later reimbursement, check which credit cards are accepted or whether payment must be made in cash.
Note that coverage with foreign insurers must be purchased abroad, under Russian law it is illegal to sell insurance policies that are issued by an insurer that is not licensed in Russia. Before you choose a health care insurance provider, whether local or foreign, make sure you read the fine print and discuss any questions you have. Many insurance companies do not pay for health problems pertaining to pre-existing conditions, which might include any chronic health problems such as diabetes. If you use a foreign insurance provider, deductibles may apply. Since the cost of medical services in may medical centers in Russia is lower that abroad, the doctor's consultation fee may fall under deductible.
Most foreign health care insurance providers have contracts with a limited number of medical clinics in Russia. This could mean that through your insurance policy you are forced to use a certain health care provider in Moscow. Unless your insurance company has a direct billing agreement with the medical clinic you intend to use, you will have to advance the payment and then claim reimbursement from the insurance company later. Some providers require pre-authorization, meaning that you must contact the insurance company before using medical services in Russia.
Clinics and Dental Care
Several Western medical centers and dental clinics operate in Moscow. Most have at least some expatriate doctors and friendly English-speaking support staff and are equipped to handle both minor and major medical emergencies. Some also offer house calls and medical evacuation services. Most clinics are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week or at least provide emergency services during the night.
While most Russian hospitals are not up to Western standards, Russian doctors are generally very good. Several Russian hospitals in Moscow have special arrangements with GlavUPDK (the main administration for the foreign diplomatic corps in Moscow) and accept foreigners for checkups and treatments at more moderate prices that the Western medical clinics.
Psychological Care
Living in a foreign country is always challenging and stressful. Everyone - from the working partner to the spouse and children - can be affected, and there is absolutely no shame in turning to professional help, which is available in Moscow. Problems frequently experienced by expatriates on international assignments include stress, anxiety and loneliness. A problem specific to northern countries, such as Russia, is SAD (Season Affective Disorder). If you find yourself in any situation you feel you cannot cope with on your own, please call someone. This someone can be a friend, a member of your women's club's newcomer's team, a nurse or a doctor at your medical center or some professionals.
General Information
If you are an expecting mother who is moving to or currently living in Moscow, you will need information and advice for the period of your stay in Moscow. One option is to join a "mother-to-be" support group to share experience and useful information. Contact details and useful information can be obtained through one of the international women's clubs in Moscow and - if you have older children that are attending school - through your school's community liaison office or school newsletter.
You can attend childbirth education classes for further advice on pregnancy, delivery, breastfeeding, and baby care and to learn about what to expect in Moscow. Most classes offered in Moscow are held in Russian, but you can contact any of the Western medical clinics in Moscow to find out about English-language pre-natal classes.
Hospitals and Doctors
Not all hospitals have maternity wards, and even less have neonatal care units. On the other hand there are several hospitals that cater exclusively to future mothers and their babies. A maternity hospital is called "roddom", meaning "house of birth". Most hospitals in Russia require visitors to wear plastic shoe covers. These are usually available from the concierge or at the coat check area near entrance for a small fee.
To make arrangements to give birth at a hospital in Russia, you will need to sign a contract and pay a deposit. Some Russian doctors speak good English (less frequently German or French), but if you need language assistance during labor and birth, you can make arrangements with an English-speaking healthcare provider in Moscow for an interpreter to be present during labor and childbirth. Make sure the hospital of your choice is aware of this arrangement.
Many things are done differently here than in your own country. The layout of the delivery room, for example, is different from those in American or European hospitals and usually offers less privacy.
Once you have chosen a doctor you will be issued a certificate regarding your pregnancy to carry with you. This certificate includes all pertinent information on your pregnancy and prenatal visits. Information on the birth itself and data for the newborn baby will be added later on. The certificate is issued in Russia, and it helps to avoid additional testing on admission to the maternity hospital. It provides the doctors and nursed with all the information they need to ensure a safe delivery and good prenatal care for your baby.
Hospital Stay
The usual length of stay in hospital is between three and five days; if you want to leave earlier you will be asked to sign a special form. After the baby is born you should contact your embassy to receive citizenship for your child and to apply for a passport.
The Russian public health care system provides a local pediatrician for the first time home visit and a few follow-up visits by the district pediatric nurse. You can make an appointment for the well-baby visit in most family clinics. Some clinics in Moscow provide pediatric house calls. However, if you live a great distance from the clinic, please, check with your pediatrician if this service is provided.
You can have your baby vaccinated through a private clinic or you can have vaccinations done for free (Russian-made vaccines) through the public health care system. Most expatriates prefer to use private clinics for their baby's immunizations where only Western-made vaccines from the world's leading manufacture are used. In Russia, a few days after birth a BCG vaccine is administered. You should discuss with your doctor whether you want this vaccination to be done or not. The immunization schedule in Russia differs from that in America and Western Europe - Hib, Varicella and Hepatitus A vaccinations are not on the national immunization calendar.
Private medical clinics will let you follow the immunization schedule from your home country, and most vaccines are readily available. Many local day care centers and play schools will ask you to provide your child's vaccination certificate, and many schools in Moscow test children for tuberculosis (PPD skin) on an annual basis.
8.Work Permits :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Work Permits
Work Permit Quota Application
Companies wishing to employ foreign nationals in Russia must submit information regarding foreign labor needs forecast (quota applications) to the employment authorities by 1 May of the previous year. Such applications should be broken down by position and by nationality. So, companies have to go through a rather difficult exercise and predict far in advance whom they plan to employ during the next year, and in what role. The authorities would only allow those positions and nationalities that are indicated in the application and are officially allocated to this particular company as quota. This means that a company will be unlikely to be able to change its mind and, for example, seek to hire a French rather than an Italian manager, in the event that the quota application was for an Italian.
The local employment authorities responsible for reviewing these quota applications must, initially, advise failed applicants by mid July, and successful applicants prior to August. Each region then passes its consolidated approvals up to a Federal level, and the national quota is meant to be set (in a database listing each successful company, by location, by position and by nationality) by the end of October for the following year. Approvals made in August can be superseded by this consolidation process. Unfortunately, for the two years in which this practice has been operational, the procedure has not been followed exactly by the authorities. For 2009, the database was not published in the autumn of 2008, and the exact mechanisms for quota allocation were indeed not clear until well into the spring of 2009 itself. For 2010, most regions of Russia completed the summer 2009 rejection and approval notifications, with Moscow being a notable exception.
In early December 2009 the final database setting out the quota for 2010 had not yet been published. 2009 also saw some cuts to the quota during the course of the year, somewhat to the surprise of those companies affected. Companies that experience errors in their quota, or who are newly formed or have registered new divisions in new locations in Russia, or where there is a need to add or change the quota can apply to the Interdepartmental Commission on Migration matters for the region in question. A reserve level of additional quota is kept back at a Federal level to facilitate this, but good arguments do need to be made to the Commission if additional quota is to be granted, or the perceived error corrected.
Experience shows that cases are generally reviewed upon their merits, but the process can still take time, even where successful. The Law governing work permits also allows the authorities annually to publish a list of positions which are exempt from quota. These have in past years covered senior executive positions and one or two technical IT roles. However, this list does need to be annually renewed, and it is not always operational at the start of the year, but is rather disseminated at some point in spring. However, this can be a useful means of adding flexibility for persons whose roles are covered.
Draft Law 2010
The Draft Law concerning highly qualified specialists was approved by the Federation Council on May 13th, 2010 and has been sent to the RF President for signing. The Draft Law will come into force on July 1st, 2010. The Federal Law amending the Law on the legal status of a foreigner in the Russian Federation and Budgetary and Tax Codes has brought a lot changes to the existing system of working conditions of foreigners in the RF.
Work permits and permissions to employ foreign workers - based on the new system, highly qualified foreign workers shall be exempt from the quota application procedure. The new system would just require an employer to submit an application to the respective state body for such highly qualified workers. Such an application must be considered within 14 days. High qualification shall be determined based on the salary threshold (starting from 2 mln. RUR per year) and documents proving it (diploma, reference letters, etc.). It should be especially noted that the 2 mln. RUR should be received from Russian sources only.
The duration of the work permits is extended to 3 years for the highly qualified workers, in accordance with the period of the labor agreement's duration.
The registration procedure has been substantially simplified. An employer no longer has to notify the migration service every time its foreign worker leaves the city he is working in.
The list of professions (positions) that are exempt from the quota system will not be subject to change.
Highly qualified workers will have the right to obtain residence permits for themselves and their family members for the period of labor agreement's duration.
Work visas for the highly qualified worker will be issued for 1 year, with a possibility of an extension of up to 3 years.

One Window Approach
For members of certain business associations, the authorities have sometimes expedited regimes; whereby, applications fro work permits and visas can be submitted at some place and time with the Federal Migration Service, making the processing time significantly quicker than usual.
Non-CIS Citizens
Under the current provisions of the Russian immigration legislation, each employer engaging foreign nationals from countries for which visas are necessary to enter Russia, is obliged to obtain Russian individual work permits for them. The starting point is for the employer to register with the employment authorities and submit an initial report on job vacancies. In order to apply for work permits, the company must fulfil the following obligations in the following order:
1) Update information on job vacancies with employment authorities; wait one month;
2) Apply to the Federal Migration Service fora corporate permit for the engagement of foreign labor; the Federal Migration Service will then confirm with the employment authorities that the positions for which permission to hire foreigners is sought have been listed as vacant for one month, and that no appropriate Russian candidates have been found; one month later the corporate permit will be issued;
3) Apply to the Federal Migration Service for an individual work permit; one month later the individual permit will be issued.
At the third stage, the application will tend to need to include, for executive and technical positions, some sort of certification of the foreigner's competence to hold the position. This will be a professional qualification or a certificate of higher education, which will need to be apostilled in the home country and submitted with a Russian notarized translation. The foreign national will also need to submit certification of his health, including confirmation from a medical facility that he is free from an extensive list of conditions and diseases.
From start to finish, therefore, assuming quota exists, obtaining a work permit should take no less than three months, but in reality the process can be significantly slower, especially if all documents are not in exactly the right order that the authorities require. The precise details of what is required are also subject to change, which can make the process highly frustrating.
Any individual work permit (regardless of the citizenship of its holder) is valid only for the region within Russia where that foreign employee is going to work. It is also possible to apply for a multi-regional work permit. In this case, the company needs to register with the local employment authorities in each region for which the work permit is needed. However, each stage of the application then needs to be completed by each region concerned; this can cause delays.
Once the individual work permit is obtained and an employment agreement with foreign national is concluded, the employer is obliged to inform the following state authorities about fact of employment of a foreigner:
Tax authorities (within 10 business days);
Employment authorities (within 1 month);
State Labor Inspection (within 1 month).
The individuals themselves do not have such notification obligations.
CIS Citizens
As concerns most CIS countries for citizens of which visas are not necessary to enter Russia, the individuals themselves are obliged to apply for their individual work permits prior to applying for a job with any employer. The employer should not apply for a corporate permit for the engagement of foreign labor in respect of CIS nationals.
There are three possible options for CIS citizens to apply for an individual work permit:
apply in person;
apply through an organization officially authorized to assist foreign nationals with employment;
authorize a third party, to be a representative of the individual in applying for his/her work permit.
There are also notification requirements with regards to non-visa expatriates; whereby, companies should notify various state bodies, including:
Immigration authorities (within 3 days);
Tax authorities (within 3 days);
Employment authorities (within 3 days).
Exemption from Work Permit
Work permits are not needed for the following categories of individuals:
Citizens of Belarus;
Permanent residents of Russia (those who hold permanent residency permit);
Employees of diplomatic missions, consulates and international organizations;
Employees of foreign companies (manufacturers or suppliers) engaged in the installation, installation supervision, servicing, war ranty servicing and after-guarantee repairs of installed equipment (montage and chefmontage);
Journalists accredited in Russia.
Temporary Residence Permit
Temporary residents reside in Russia on the basis of temporary residence permits. Such permits are issued for three years and empower foreign nationals to temporarily reside in Russia prior to obtaining the permanent residency permit. Temporary residence permits are issued subject to an annual quota established by the Russian Government. Some categories of foreign nationals, most notably those married to Russian nationals, are exempt from this quota.
There is a different registration requirement applicable to temporary residents; whereby, they should be registered at the address of their residence. Temporary residents must register on an annual basis. There is special type of visa based on which a temporary resident may enter the country. It is issued at the time of his or her registration as a temporary resident in Russia. Under this registration, they can obtain only a single-entry visa, issued for 4 months, which can then be prolonged for the period of validity of the temporary residency permit. However, the most important complication related to this visa, is that each time the individual leaves and re-enters Russia, he must apply for an exit-entry visa.
Temporary residents cannot change the place of their residence and work away from the region of Russia for which the temporary residence permit is granted. Temporary residence permits are valid for up to three years, but there is no procedure for their extension. The inherent assumption is that a temporary resident would progress on to becoming a permanent resident. The same procedures for work permit applications applies to temporary residents.
In summary, therefore, becoming a temporary resident confers no material advantage compared with persons who are temporarily located in Russia on work visas and work permits. Work permits are still required, and the visa regime is more restrictive rather than less so. The main advantage of a temporary residence permit is therefore that it enables the holder to apply for a permanent residence permit.
Permanent Residence Permit
A temporary resident can apply for the permanent residence permit, provided he resided in Russia for at least one year on the basis of a temporary residence permit. Permanent residents are allowed to travel in and out of Russia without any restrictions, as no Russian visa is required in this case. No work permits are needed for permanent residents, and they may therefore be employed by any employer within the region concerned without restriction.
Permanent residence permits are issued for five years and may be re-issued for a similar period an unlimited number of times. As with temporary residents, permanent residents are subject to annual re-registration in Russia.
Sanctions for Non-Compliance
Even for minor violations in the immigration area, the authorities have full rights to the draconian penalty regime set out in the Administrative Code. The obvious intention of the above is to reinforce the responsibility of the foreign nationals visiting and working in Russia, as well as their employers for staying compliant with the Russian immigration and labour laws. In practice, these fine levels are not always imposed, with lesser (though still substantial) levels often being used, but this is entirely at the discretion of the authority concerned.
Sanctions are imposed separately for each violation in respect of each foreign employee engaged unlawfully and include:
Sanctions for engagement by employers of foreign citizens without work permits (up to 5,000 Rbs for the individual, 50,000 Rbs for the executives, 250,000-800,000 Rbs for the company or suspension of activities of the company for up to 90 days);
Sanctions for engagement by employers of foreign citizens without a corporate permit to engage foreign labour (similar as above);
Sanctions for not notifying immigration/employment/labour/tax authorities on engaging a foreign citizen, or upon the early termination of a foreign national (up to 5,000 Rbs for the employing individual, 50,000 Rbs for the responsible executives, 400,000-800,000 Rbs for the companies);
Sanctions for violation of immigration related enrolment rules (up to 5,000 Rbs for the hosting individual, 50,000 Rbs for the responsible executives, 400,000-500,000 Rbs for the company).
Common Pitfalls
Immigration compliance in Russia remains a complex and frustrating area. The current situation at any time should not be assumed as a permanent one. The Russian immigration authorities tend to change the procedure and requirements of any application in the course of the application process, which, with tight time deadlines, can force companies to restart the procedures from the very beginning. Even if companies follow all requirements of the Russian employment and immigration authorities, this can never guarantee successful results.
2010 is likely to see an even worse environment, with a reduced overall quota approved, late publication of the detail, and increased scrutiny of the authorities in relation to work permit applications, supporting documents, notifications in respect of hiring and termination of foreign individuals, registration requirements, and an increased level of immigration audits. More and more foreign citizens are now looking for possibilities to apply for Russian temporary and then permanent residence permits to avoid the number of immigration related requirements and procedures.
Organizations should be prepared; the process will be time and resource consuming, sometimes undefined and varied, but should also remember that by now, most companies ma nage to achieve the required results, or a practically acceptable workaround. Individuals, in turn, should also be prepared for some unexpected additional requirements with regard to immigration documents, medical tests, their arrivals and departures to, within and from Russia.
The most common incorrect assumptions and practical problems include:
"Working" in Russia on a business visa is acceptable;
Persons obtaining an "Inosotrudniki" visa do not need a work permit;
It does not matter if you forget to complete the enrolment and de-enrolment procedures each time the expatriate enters and exist Russia;
Provided you have one work permit then you can fulfil multiple roles or work for multiple different group entities or locations;
Work permits can always be expedited provided you have the right contacts;
It is always the fault of HR/Admin/External Immigration Service Provider if something goes wrong.
9.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Lubyanka::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Novaya Ploshchad ("New Square")
Novaya square forms a kind of border between Kitai-Gorod and Lubyanka. Long pale building in Pseudo-Russian style on Novaya square for many years has been a centre of scientific, cultural and social life, housing Polytechnic Museum. The edifice that we see today was created in 1874 by architects I. Monginetti, N. Shokhin and I. Mashkov. Polytechnic Museum became a place where public lectures were given, scientific experiments were demonstrated, conferences and debates were organised. In the 60s it also was a "centre point" of poetry: in its auditoria many fabulous poets of this "poetry boom" period (Evgeny Evtushenko, Bella Akhmadulina, Andrey Voznesensky) captivated people's souls with magic power of words.
At the end of Polytechnic Museum one can see a monument to heroes of Plevna, Turkish city famous for a crucial battle between Russians and Turks in 1877. Today this place is known to be a meeting point of gay scene. At the low end of the little boulevard Great Brothers Cyrill and Mephodius are holding a bronze book with their own Cyrillic alphabet.
Staraya Ploshchad ("Old Square")
Saint Brothers are standing on Staraya square. As many Moscow street names it deludes tourists: first of all it has nothing to do with a square and, secondly, it is actually newer than Novaya ("New") square. In the end of the 18th century Staraya square was a flea market, in the 19th century apartment houses appeared here like mushrooms after the rain. Today the Administration of the President occupies houses No 2-8 (former Moscow Merchant Association, hotel and a trading house). Among these buildings there is the Church of the Trinity in Nikitniki.
Lubyanskaya Square
Lubyanskaya square inspired several generations of Muscovites with fear and horror. House No 2 reconstructed by the author of mausoleum A. Shusev remembers almost all secret services in Russia. During the last 80 years it has changed name more than 10 times from CheKa to FSB and today the first thing that crosses the mind of any Russian when he/she hears "Lubyanka" is prison, tortures and pain. Here people were brought for interrogations, beaten, tortured and later sent to camps of GULAG (The Central Administrative of the Labour Camps) in Kolyma; millions of prisoners never returned. They were kept in special inner prison of this scary house and taken for a walk to the roof. As a result a sad joke was born: "What is the highest building in Moscow? - "Lubyanka, one can see Kolyma from its roof."
For a long time the statue of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of CheKa stood on Lubyanskaya square. In 1991 it was removed to the garden near the Central House of Artists and joined other statues of not-wanted communistic politicians. Instead of Dzerzhinsky Solovetsky stone was erected on Lubyanskaya square as a monument to all those who suffered from the totalitarian regime.
Bolshaya Lubyanka
Bolshaya Lubyanka street also knew bloody moments in its history. In the courtyard of houses No 7-9 one can still see boyars Khovanskiye's brick chambers built in the 17th century. In 1682 Ivan Khovansky headed the Streletsky riot ("strelets" was a member of special military corps in Muscovite Russia); when the rising was put down, tsarina Sofia ordered to execute Khovansky and many other leaders of the riot. On the basis of this story Mussorgsky wrote his opera "Khovanshchina". House No 14 is a magnificent mansion built in the late baroque style. This reconstructed house used to be the residence of Prince Dmitry Pozharsky - the hero of Russian-Polish war of 1612.
One of Moscow ancient monasteries is located on Bolshaya Lubyanka. Its name is Sretensky monastery and it was founded in the 14th century. As the legend goes this monastery was built on a place where in 1395 Muscovites came to meet the holy icon of Our Lady of Vladimir. The icon was brought to Moscow to help people in their struggle against Tatar invaders. The miracle happened - the Tatars suddenly left Moscow. After the October revolution many edifices in the monastery were destroyed. Only the Cathedral of Vladimirskaya Icon of the Mother of God erected in 1679 and monk's cells are preserved.
Rather non-appetizing name (literally "butcher street") was given to this street after the representatives of this profession who lived here in the 16th-17th centuries. Myasnitskaya was "ennobled" in the 18th century when Tsar Peter's retinue began to settle here in hope to deserve majestic attention: Peter the Great used this road when he visited his favourite German village in Lefortovo.
At the corner of Myasnitskaya street and Lubyansky passage one of the most unusual museums is waiting for those who are curious to know more about bright and tragic life of the extraordinary Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.
House No 26 for more than 300 years allows people to keep in touch with their beloved ones wherever they are - it is Moscow General Post Office. It was founded in 1700 although modern building was constructed in 1912 by Munts.
Kuznetsky Most
Kuznetsky Most street connects Bolshaya Lubyanka and Neglinnaya streets. Once its name ("most" stands for "bridge") was perfectly suitable: this street used to be a bridge over Neglinka river. Today both the bridge and the river are history.
Kuznetsky Most used to be (and still is) fashion "heaven": all the noblemen would come here to buy a hat or a dress of the latest style. Mostly Frenchmen were owners of the shops and that saved Kuznetsky Most when Napoleon army set Moscow on fire before leaving the city: French soldiers had mercy on their compatriots. Now Kuznetsky Most is perfect for shopping: a large number of (mostly luxurious) clothing and shoes stores can be found here.
Frenchmen were trendsetters not only in fashion but in restaurant business as well. At the corner of Kuznetsky Most and Neglinnaya streets there is a house No 9 in which in 1826 Frenchman Trinkle opened the legendary restaurant "Yar". Alexander Pushkin and his friends were among its visitors. House No 11 is the right place for those who are looking for gifts and souvenirs. It is the Moscow House of Artist with a little market inside offering all kinds of knick-knacks.
Neglinnaya street replaced Neglinka river that was enclosed into an underground pipe in 1818. The legendary Sandunovskiye Banyas are located on Neglinnaya. They were founded in 1806 by the famous actor Sila Sandunov and they were popular from the very opening. The last owner decided to turn it into a true Temple of Cleanness with marble swimming-pool, majestic architecture and fabulous decorations. No wonder that people wait for hours to enjoy a hot bath at "Sanduny".
10.Real Estate Primer::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Real Estate Primer
The majority of people who come to Moscow on a long-term employment contract are faced with the problem of finding a proper residence. You can opt for staying downtown and enjoying the entertainment, shopping and night life options the city has to offer. Families that come to Moscow with children would rather opt for staying in Moscow outskirts, the so-called cottage settlement, in order to provide safer ecological conditions for the children, sacrificing a considerable amount of time towards travelling to and from work.
Unlike many other larger cities, there is no real division between residential and business areas in Moscow yet. This means that wherever in the center you choose to settle, you will have easy access to shopping centers, supermarkets and cultural life. At the same time you will be able to enjoy the many smaller parks, quiet side streets and yards, and the historical charm of central Moscow.
In Russia, residential properties are categorized to the total number of rooms. Kitchen and bathrooms are not included in the room count (i.e. they are not counted as separate rooms). For example, a three-room apartment is an apartment with a living room and two other rooms (e.g. a bedroom and a study or two bedrooms), as well as kitchen and one (or more) bathrooms. Apartment size in Russia is indicated in square meters (m²). There are 10.7 square feet to one square meter.
In Russia, the concept of a ground floor is not common. Floor numbering usually starts from the very first floor, which may be residential or commercial. The first and the top are usually the least desirable, and rent should be cheaper that on the floor in-between.
Electricity: The power supply is 220V AC, 50 Hz.
Gas: While gas heaters are quickly disappearing from Moscow's apartment buildings, gas is still commonly used for cooking.
Water: Water is piped and, although officially safe to drink, is better avoided.
Heating: The heating system in Moscow is central and turned off from mid-April to mid-October.
Pre-Revolutionary Buildings
There are many beautiful pre-revolutionary apartment blocks in the center of the city, and many of the apartments have been tastefully renovated. The apartments in the pre-revolutionary buildings are very popular among expatriates due to their spaciousness, charm, and character. The major attractive features of these buildings include their traditionally high ceilings and large windows.
Stalin Buildings
Specific features of these buildings include high ceilings, large windows, and green yards. They tend to be nice and warm in winter due to their thick walls. The Stalin Blocks include the so-called Stalin Skyscrapers, of which there are seven in Moscow. Four of them are apartment buildings. One is located right outside metro Barrikadnaya, close to the US Embassy; one is on Kotelnicheskaya nab.; one is right outside metro Krasnye Vorota; and the last one is part of the Radisson Royal Hotel (former Ukraine Hotel), located right at the beginning of Kutuzovsky prosp. The combination of their architecture, spectacular views, and good security make them popular with expatriates.
Ministerial Buildings
Most of these buildings were built in the 1970s and early 1980s and were considered the first VIP blocks in Soviet times. Today they are popular for their clean entrance, good security (most of them have a fenced-in yard and twenty-four hour security), secure parking, large windows and balconies, and lots of built-in storage space.
VIP Apartment Buildings
This new generation buildings include Western developments and newly-constructed elite compounds. These buildings usually have a concierge, nice entrance, as well as equipped kitchens, air conditioning, and electronic alarm and fire control systems. Many also feature twenty-four hour security, an underground parking garage, or a private fenced-in yard. Some have a gym, sauna, and/or swimming pool.
Western Developments
While some are located in the city center, others are located outside of the Garden Ring. They offer professional on-site property management and good security. Townhouses in gated communities catering to expatriates and the Russian nouveau riche are also available. There are bargains to be had. Rental prices can sometimes be reduced by 10 to 30% from the original price depending on how long the apartment has been on the market; what the landlord's main interest is (price or timing); the type of building and its location; and the season. The basic rule of thumb is that the closer you are to the center of Moscow or to a metro station, the more you will have to pay.
What You Can Expect to Pay for Rent
Rental prices in Moscow can range from $ 600 a month for a Soviet-style studio or one-bedroom apartment far from the city center to $10,000 and $20,000 a month for a luxury apartment in downtown Moscow. Generally, rental rates for Western-style housing in Moscow are very high and are comparable to those in downtown New York, London, or Tokyo. Prices also depend on whether the neighbourhood is industrialized and polluted or green with parks and trees. Remember to ask your real estate agent whether taxes, such as VAT, are included in the quoted rental price or not.
What You Should and Should not Pay for
Expatriate residential expenses in Russia usually consist of monthly (or quarterly) rental payments. Rent should include all municipal facilities such as water, heating, and building maintenance. Electricity, gas bills and the monthly phone line subscription fee are usually excluded from the monthly rent because the final sum depends on how much, e.g. gas or electricity you use each month. Charges for electricity and gas are still very low in Russia and shouldn't add more than a few dollars to your monthly rental costs. In addition to this, you will of course have to pay the phone bill for any inter-city and international phone calls, as well as the monthly subscription fee for satellite TV.
When renting an apartment through a real estate agency, be prepared to pay a commission fee equal to one month rent. When making the first rental payment to the landlord, you will usually also be expected to pay a one-month security deposit, which is then used as the rent for the last month of your stay in the apartment or house. When negotiating your rental contract, make sure it clearly states who has to pay for what in order to avoid problems later on.
11.Children in Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Children in Moscow
Some Formal Issues
Children born abroad to expatriate parents may find their citizenship rights affected, either by laws in the country of assignment or those of their home country. It is, therefore, important to check on both sets of regulations well before the child is born. Your embassy should be able to provide you with all the information you need.
If the baby is born in Moscow you should contact your embassy to receive citizenship for your child and to apply for a passport.
Circumcision can be performed in a maternity hospital, but you should discuss this with your doctor before birth so that the necessary arrangements can be made.
If you are interested in adopting a Russian child, your first step for advice should be your doctor/medical clinic in Moscow. They should be able to provide you with contact details for reliable adoption agencies. The Russian Ministry of Education and Science has an official adoption website at with detailed information on the adoption process and information on thousands of children in orphanages across the country that are up for adoption.
There are over 1800 high schools and 110 colleges in Moscow. Beside these, there are over 200 institutions offering higher education in Moscow, including 60 state universities and the leading Russian University - the Lomonosov Moscow State University, which was founded in 1755.
Moscow has a number of international schools and nurseries, which are popular with the expat community. All schools are fee-paying. The fees depend on the grade level, period of enrolment and whether or not your child requires any additional support programmes. In general, it varies between 3000 and 7000 Euro. The admission procedures for all schools are quite complex and consist of several steps (application form, test, interview etc); therefore, it is better to begin to do it well in advance. The academic year lasts from September 1st to the middle or end of June with summer vacations from July 1st to August 31st.
The majority of bookstores have vast sections of children's books but mostly in Russian. Luckily there are some bookstores offering a selection of children's books in English, German and French.
In Moscow you may find anything you need for your child (from an infants to teenagers) as there are plenty of stores to buy children's goods in: from markets and small local shops to large shopping malls and boutiques offering branded children's clothes and shoes. Note that closing and shoes sizes differ in Russia, Europe and USA.
Clothing SizesAge (y.o.)
Height (cm)
Size 1-1,5
- Russia
Europe 13
12.Moscow Neighbourhoods::The Kremlin Area::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
The Kremlin
The Kremlin traces its history since 1156 (first mentioned in chronicle), when prince Yury Dolgoruky built wooden walls of future fortress on Borovitsky hill. Moscow didn't play any important role in the country till 1328, when Ivan Kalita, son of Moscow Prince Dmitry, became the Grand Prince of Russian State. He broadened the fortress and built a new oak wall around it. That time citadel has got its modern name, the Kremlin ("kremnik" means "forest" in old Russian), and became the residence of Metropolitan and Grand Prince. But the wooden walls, although invulnerable, suffered from fire, and in 1367 fortifications of white stone were built around the Kremlin by Prince Dmitry Ivanovich (later named Donskoy). Since then Moscow is called "a white stone city".
In the end of the 15th century Italian craftsmen built the new walls and towers of red brick, and, according to the evidences of foreign travelers, the Kremlin looked like a medieval castle. Even when Peter the Great moved the capital to St. Petersburg, the Kremlin kept its significance: Russian emperors were still crowned in the Assumption Cathedral, and the whole Moscow gathered here for the great church festivals. In 1918 Moscow became the capital again. The Kremlin was occupied by the Bolshevik government, and it became impossible to enter it without special pass. Only in 1955 the gates of the citadel were reopened to public, and the government residence became an open-air museum of history and architecture.
Now this symbol of Russian State is the official residence of the President. It is a preserved area, protected and guarded by the State and included in the UNESCO List of Cultural and Natural Heritage of the World.
Manezhnaya Square
Sculptor Zurab Tsereteli was awarded the privilege to embellish Manezhnaya square with heroes of Russian folk-tales and to place bronze horses surrounded by a cloud of water-drops in the fountains. The bronze horseman near the Red Square is one of Soviet greatest commanders - marshal Georgy Zhukov, the hero of the Great Patriotic War. An interesting red building in Pseudo-Russian style serves as a background for the Zhukov monument: it is the State Historical Museum, a quaint creation of architects V. Shervud and A. Semenov. Passing by the Historical Museum don't forget to stand on the 'zero kilometer'; from this point all the distances in Russia are said to be measured.
Teatralnaya Square
Petrovskaya, Tsvetochnaya, Teatralnaya, Sverdlova and again Teatralnaya - the name of the square changed many times as well as its architectural appearance. In the 1820s architect Osip Bove completely reconstructed Teatralnaya square; as a result, Moscow got rid of a stinking cesspit that the square had been turned into and now is proud of having such a marvellous place. Bove planned to create an architectural ensemble which would consist of five buildings in the late classicism style. The dominant of the square would be the Bolshoi Theatre. Unfortunately Maly Theatre is the only Bove's edifice that survived until now.
Petrovsky theatre, the "ancestor" of the Bolshoi Theatre, opened in 1780 and burnt down in 1806. Osip Bove's creation burnt down as well. The third attempt was the successful one. Reconstructed by architect Kavos in 1853, the Bolshoi Theatre is still one of capital's main attractions. It was also in 1853 that the theatre got its symbol: four bronze horses on the roof. Author of this chariot was famous sculptor Peter Klodt. The Bolshoi Theatre is a world-famous cultural centre and its ballet and opera stars get standing ovation all over the world. The reconstruction of the theatre is due to be finished in the late 2011.
Across the street there is another sight of Teatralnaya square - a luxurious hotel "Metropol" (architects I. Valkott and L. Kekushev). Mosaic panels on its walls were designed by Mikhail Vrubel, a fabulous Russian artist of the early 20th century. The original painting is now in the collections of Tretyakov gallery.
Red Square
Voskresenskie vorota ("gates") are the last obstacle on the way to the main square in Russia - "Krasnaya Ploshchad". The name of this symbol of Moscow suits it perfectly: "krasny" in Old Russian meant "beautiful" and it is beautiful indeed, though its modern look was gained with certain difficulties. Once the Red Square was a centre of trade spangled with motley stalls whose boisterous owners offered pan-cakes, kvas, candles, cloth and other goods. But shops and wooden churches in the Red Square were of great fire hazard so they were destroyed and a trading square turned into a place for open-air merrymaking.
Wooden buildings haven't preserved, but some architectural masterpieces are still seen to the delight of Muscovites and tourists. Probably the most famous Russian church stands here - the Cathedral of St. Basil. Monument to Minin and Prince Pozharsky stands in front of the cathedral reminding every Russian about difficult moments in its history. Before 1936 the monument was placed in the centre of the Red Square, but in Soviet times it impeded the military parades. There was an idea to destroy the statue, but it was only moved to the Cathedral of Intercession. It was the first monumental statue in Russia depicting not a nobleman, but "a common citizen".
Not far from this monument there is a stony area surrounded by a low barrier of white stone with a cast-iron fence known as "Lobnoe Mesto". In 1786 this construction replaced the ramshackle brick erection with a hipped roof, which was built in the first half of the 16th century. Situated on the highest place on the Red Square, it symbolizes the Golgotha Mountain, where Jesus Christ was crucified (Golgotha means "forehead" - "lob" in Russian). For ages it functioned as a rostrum from which Russian tsars addressed the nation on special occasions. The legend that it was used as a scaffold is not completely true: no one was ever executed on "Lobnoe Mesto", but the special scaffolds were usually built quite near by.
Across the Square it is the last haven of the first Soviet leader - Lenin Mausoleum. After his death in 1924 it was decided to preserve the body and to construct a special building to keep it. Designed by Shchusev, a pyramid of cubes cut from red granite decorated with marble and black labradorite replaced experimental wooden mausoleum. After the disintegration of the USSR the Mausoleum lost its significance and in 1996 guard of honor near it was cancelled. Although some political leaders repeatedly suggest to bury Lenin as a regular man, the Government still has not made a final decision about it.
In the middle of the Red Square one of the biggest shops of the country attracts millions of visitors every year - Main Universal Store (GUM). This place, known before the Revolution as Upper Trade Rows, has been "a shopping center" of Moscow for ages. An old building of the Upper Trade Rows, designed by O. Bove, was erected in 1815. But as it was owned by several traders, they could never come to a decision to repair the building, and so it gradually went to pieces. At last in 1890 the government forced the owners to erect a new building, and in 1893 the project of A. Pomerantsev came to reality. Built in pseudo-Russian style, it consists of three passages, each three-storied, now called lines. A unique round glass roof 14 meters (43 ft.) in diameter, designed by V. Shukhov, and the front decorated with dummy joint makes GUM one of the symbols of the Red Square, now easy recognizable for every Russian.
Close to GUM the beautiful Kazansky Cathedral makes you want to stand for a moment. It was built after the victory over Polish invaders in 1612 but its heroic background didn't save it from demolishing in 1936. Fortunately it was brought back to life in 1993.
Mokhovaya street is a continuation of Okhotny Ryad street, lying between Tverskaya and the Kremlin. Long ago it was a place where dried moss ("mokh") was sold from stalls; this is the reason for such an unusual name. Moss was used in ancient Russia to pack joints between the beams of traditional wooden house ("izba"). Since the first half of the 19th century this street is closely connected with Moscow State University - its first building was situated on the Red Square, right in the place of contemporary State Historical Museum. During the Moscow fire of 1812 that building was completely destroyed, and professors with their students moved to Mokhovaya, to the new building designed by Domenico Gilardi. In 1832 one more building, the Pashkov family mansion, was bought for the University by Nikolay I; since that Mokhovaya street became a University campus.
Right opposite to the old University the building of Manage demonstrates all the amenities of the Empire Style: pompousness, sumptuousness, spirit of patriotism and war glory. In 1825 great architect Osip Bove managed to create a perfect "palace" for parades, practice manoeuvres. Today Manage is used with more peaceful purpose: it is an exhibition hall, constantly displaying modern art.
It is one of the oldest streets in Moscow: it is known to be here already in the 13th century. In the end of Vozdvizhenka that faces Arbat an unusual building in Mauritanian style provokes curiosity. Its wonderful name is the House of Friendship between Nations of Europe ("Dom Druzhby"). Architect V. Mazyrin built this luxurious mansion for Arseny Morozov after Morozov's trip to Spain and Portugal. It was known among Muscovites as "Spanish castle" and gossip was spread about wild parties thrown by the owner. Another well-known rumour says that Morozov's mother, who lived nearby, once expressed her admiration for this house in a rather unusual way: "Before, only I knew you were a fool; now the whole Moscow will know." In 1959 the House of Friendship opened its doors for visitors, at that time the first woman-astronaut Valentina Tereshkova held the post of the director.
13.Financial Adviser  
Tel: 787-6769, 783-5810 # 0820, 0821 (English-speaking operator)
14.Sport & Recreation :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Kva-Kva Park
7 water slides 90-120 m long, Tsunami slide, hydro-massage, Russian baths, sauna, hammam, restaurant, bar, SPA-salon. Open: 10:00-22:00.
Address: Mytishchi, Kommunisticheskaya ul., 1, "XL"
Tel: 258-0683
15.Community and Religious Organizations:: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Australian Consular Emergency Centre in Moscow
All Australians traveling overseas are encouraged to register on site or by phone. The information you provide will help us find you in an emergency, whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or family emergency.
Tel: +7 (495) 232-3253
16.Ask the Dentist :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
10% discount on first visit, includes X-Rays, teeth cleaning, Exam by Dr. Giovanni Favero who has been working in Moscow for 12 years. We offer excellent Preventive Dentistry, Cosmetic Dentistry, Implantology, Orthodontics by Dr. Garo, and Dental hygiene. Emergency care 24/7. Please take the time to "CLICK" on our website for more details about discounts.
Address: Sadovaya-Kudrinskaya ul., 21a, Metro: Mayakovskaya, Tel: 797-9759, e-mail:,
17.Environmental Assessments  
What are environmental assessments and what do they tell us?
Why are they needed?
When are they needed?
How is the work carried out?
About Ecostandart
What ecological standards do we use?
Our laboratories
Did you know?
Case studies
18.TV Sportland Calendar :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Address: Novy Arbat st., 21
Metro: Smolenskaya, Arbatskaya
Tel: 691-1130/70, Fax: 691-7464
Entrance is FREE except on our prepaid (P) events 600 Rubles.
19.Community Organizations:: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
British Women's Club of Moscow
BWC, a non profit social club for women, meets monthly over a cup of coffee and have an organized program of activities for members and their families. Meetings are informal and there is plenty of time to chat and even to shop. Different artisans are invited each month to sell their wares during the meeting. The Coffee mornings are held on the second Tuesday of every month at the British Embassy. If one would like to attend, contact the Club in advance (by the previous Thursday) at as the security guards on the gate can only admit people on the Club’s list. Membership is open to British passport holders and partners of British passport holders. Presently there are about 200 members.
General information:
20.Dating Agency   
How it works
Anastasia Web features 10 000 beautiful ladies from the CIS countries who are interested in meeting a Western man. You can send translated e-mails to any lady featured on Her reply is translated into English and forwarded to your personal secure account on All the services are free for the ladies. The ladies are carefully chosen from 60 000 applicants, and only sincere and family-oriented women are featured on the site.
21.Business Groups :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Business Groups
Check the Expat Business Calendar for upcoming events. If you'd like to be listed please send us an e-mail to
22.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Moscow Neighbourhoods
The city is divided into ten administrative okrugs (regions) and 123 districts. Nine of the ten administrative regions, except the City of Zelenograd, are located within Moscow's main boundaries. All administrative okrugs and districts have their own emblem and flags, some districts also have elected head officials.
The ten administrative okrugs of Moscow are: 1) City of Zelenograd; 2) Northern okrug; 3) North-Eastern okrug; 4) North-Western okrug; 5) Central okrug; 6) Eastern okrug; 7) Southern okrug; 8) South-Eastern okrug; 9) South-Western okrug 10) Western okrug.
In addition to the districts, there are Territorial Units with Special Status, or territories. These usually include areas with small or no permanent populations, such as the case with the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, the Botanical Garden, large parks, and industrial zones. There are no ethnic-specific regions in Moscow. And although districts are not designated by income, as with most cities, those areas that are closer to the city centre, metro stations or green zones are considered more prestigious. Moscow does not yet have any exclusively residential or commercial neighborhoods with most central districts providing a mix of residential and office buildings along with retail space.
Boulevard Ring
Krasnaya Presnya
Patriarshiye Prudy Polyanka-Yakimanka
Pushkinskaya Square
The Kremlin Area
23.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Moscow Neighbourhoods
The city is divided into ten administrative okrugs (regions) and 123 districts. Nine of the ten administrative regions, except the City of Zelenograd, are located within Moscow's main boundaries. All administrative okrugs and districts have their own emblem and flags, some districts also have elected head officials.
The ten administrative okrugs of Moscow are: 1) City of Zelenograd; 2) Northern okrug; 3) North-Eastern okrug; 4) North-Western okrug; 5) Central okrug; 6) Eastern okrug; 7) Southern okrug; 8) South-Eastern okrug; 9) South-Western okrug 10) Western okrug.
In addition to the districts, there are Territorial Units with Special Status, or territories. These usually include areas with small or no permanent populations, such as the case with the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, the Botanical Garden, large parks, and industrial zones. There are no ethnic-specific regions in Moscow. And although districts are not designated by income, as with most cities, those areas that are closer to the city centre, metro stations or green zones are considered more prestigious. Moscow does not yet have any exclusively residential or commercial neighbourhoods with most central districts providing a mix of residential and office buildings along with retail space.
Boulevard Ring
Krasnaya Presnya
Lubyanka Patriarshiye Prudy
Pushkinskaya Square
The Kremlin Area
24.Reign of Peter the Great (Late 17th-18th Centuries)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Reign of Peter the Great (late 17th-18th centuries)
Return to the Origin of Romanovy Dynasty page Return to The History of Moscow page Go to next topic
25.The Origin of Romanovy Dynasty (17th Century)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians   
The Origin of Romanovy Dynasty (17th Century)
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26.Russia in the 19th Century::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Russia in the 19th Century
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27.October Revolution (1917)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
October Revolution (1917)
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28.Soviet Union (1920-50s)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Soviet Union (1920-50s)
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29.From Thaw to Perestroika (1950-90s)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
From Thaw to Perestroika (1950-90s)
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30.Europ Assistance :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  

For more information please contact Expat Department:
Kozhevnichesky lane 4, bldg. 7, Moscow, 113114, Russia
Tel: +7 (095) 967-3092, Fax: +7 (095) 787-2177
31.Palace Revolutions and Catherine the Great (18th Century)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Palace Revolutions and Catherine the Great (18th Century)
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32.Russian Customs Declaration :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Russian Customs Declaration
To use the downloadable Customs Declaration you must have the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. Print the first page, then reinsert the page so as to print the second page on the back of the first.
To download, click here.
33.The History of Moscow::Ivan the Terrible and the Times of Troubles (16th-17th Centuries)::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Ivan the Terrible and the Times of Troubles (16th-17th Centuries)
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34.Public Transport::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Public Transport
When it first opened in 1935, the system had just one line. Today, the Moscow metro contains 12 lines, mostly underground with a total of more than 175 stations. The metro is one of the deepest subway systems in the world. It is a great, fast, efficient, and cheap way to get around town, with stations close to most major places of interest in the city center. Trains run every couple of minutes from early morning to late at night. They can get very crowded during morning and evening rush hours. Stations that are always crowded are those adjacent to railway stations and bus terminals (for example, Kievskaya, Belorusskaya).
Many of Moscow's metro stations were designed and embellished by prominent Russian architects, artists and sculptors and are incredibly beautiful - especially those in the city center and the ones on the brown circle line, which connects seven of Moscow's nine railway stations to each other. When you start exploring Moscow on the metro, take some time to get off at each station to have a closer look. The metro runs from 05:35 to 01:00. Intervals between trains during the day are usually no more than a few minutes but can be longer in the early morning or late evening.
Brief History of the Moscow Metro
The story started in the beginning of the 20th century. The first and very unusual project of the underground was offered by engineer Peter Balinsky in 1902. According to his plan trains were supposed to pass across the Red Square over the heads of the astonished people in horse-carriages, but this project was rejected as well as many others. Only in 1931 the dream of many architects and progress adherents came true and the construction began. On May 15th 1935 the first line covering the distance from Sokolniki to Gorky Park was opened for public use. The lucky owner of the ticket No. 1 presented this precious piece of paper to the Museum of Moscow Metro.
Finding a Metro Station
Metro entrances are easy to find - they are indicated by big red letters "M", which are illuminated at night.
Metro Tickets
Fare: 26 Rbs per ticket (as of June 2010). Children under the age of seven travel free of charge.
The fee for 1 trip is fixed, i.e. it does not depend on the length of your journey, you can make as many line-changes as you wish, and stay down in the metro as long as you like - it is valid until you exit the metro system. Tickets are available for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 60, 70 rides and there is also a common ticket for 70 rides in all kinds of transport. You can also buy season tickets of different kinds: season tickets with limited number of rides for 5 days (1, 2 rides), season tickets with limited number of rides for 45 days (5, 10, 20, 60 rides), season tickets with limited number of rides for one calendar month (70 rides) and season tickets with unlimited number of rides: for 30 days, for 90 days and for 365 days.
Metro tickets can be obtained from the "kassas" (ticket booths) that are located inside each metro station. The tickets come in the form of smart cards. To enter the metro system, touch the yellow circle on the turnstile with your ticket. After you touch the yellow circle, the other circle a bit lower will show in green light how many rides are left (or illuminate in green if you have the season ticket). The red light on the ticket-barrier will go out briefly, and you can now enter through the turnstile.
If your ticket is not valid, the turnstile will make a buzz sound and the red circle will be still on. If you are sure that your ticket is valid, but the turnstile won't let you in, do not be desperate; just touch the yellow circle of the same turnstile one more time. Normally, if the ticket is valid, the turnstile will work. You don't need your ticket to exit the metro.
Moscow Metro Peculiarities
In one way the Moscow metro is definitely different from all other underground railways in the world: it was planned not only as a comfortable and easily accessible transport but also as powerful means of propaganda. The idea was to immortalize the greatness of socialism; as a result Moscow underground became one of the most grandiose phenomena of the Stalin era. Its pompous architecture and sumptuous designs allow Moscow metro to remain one of the most popular tourist attractions.
Each central station has its own unique style. For example Teatralnaya station is decorated with majolica bas-reliefs picturing folk dances. In the niches of Ploshchad Revolutsii there are 76 bronze statues imaging the creators of the communism. Kievskaya and Belorusskaya are adorned with national ornaments of Ukraine and Belarus.
Among other sumptuous metro stations Mayakovskaya is a true pearl of underground architecture. It is included in the UNESCO List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Silvery steel columns match beautifully with red and pink shades of rhodonite. The ceiling has 36 mosaic panels made of coloured glass created by very famous Soviet-era artist Alexander Deineka.
As money becoming tighter during the 1960s and 1970s the opulent designs of new stations were sacrificed in favour of better geographic coverage and investment into rail technology - the stations of this era look far more prosaic by comparison. However, in the Medvedev era funds are being found to build new stations - some of which are built in a "fake-Empire" style glorifying Russia's 19th-century past (e.g. Trubnaya), while yet others illustrate contemporary minimalist design styles (e.g. Vorobyovy Gory). Money is now finally being found to restore the first-generation stations (such as Mayakovskaya) to their original glory - and to invest in new rolling-stock and track.
Finding your Way around the Metro
It is not very difficult to find your way around on the metro. For convenience, each metro line has its own distinct colour. Information boards on the station walls show the stations that are served by the particular line you are on. They also indicate all possible transfers to other lines. Signs inside metro stations are in Russian only. Each train car has a metro map close to one or more of the doors. These maps are bilingual (Russian, English).
When you are on the train, the driver will make the following announcement "Ostorozhno, dveri zakryvautsya, sleduyuschaya ostanovka (for example) Smolenskaya". This means "Careful, the doors are closing. The next stop is Smolenskaya". You should be able to understand the station names. In case a station has transfers to two or more other lines, stay calm and try to find the information board indicating the needed station. If it doesn't work, ask someone for assistance.
Many stations have two or more exits leading onto different streets. The exit signs list nearby streets, places of interest, department stores, etc. It helps to find in advance whether you have to get off at the first or last metro car to get to your destination. When meeting someone inside the metro, make sure you are very clear about where exactly you will meet. Some stations are very big and can be very crowded, which can make finding someone a difficult task.
Light Metro
Since 2004, Muscovites are able to enjoy new means of city transportation - the light metro (monorail). The first line is in Butovo and can be accessed from metro Bulvar Dmitriya Donskogo. The second line is in northern Moscow and runs between metros VDNKh and Timiryazevskaya. The tracks are an elevated structure with an average height of 7.5 m (25 ft). Each train can hold about 300 passengers. The average speed is 40 km (25 mi) per hour.
In view of the fact that metro stations outside the city centre are far apart in comparison to other cities - up to 4 km (2.5 mi) - an extensive bus network radiates from each station to the surrounding residential zones. Also, Moscow has a several bus terminals for long-range and intercity passenger buses, with a daily turnover of about 25000 passengers serving about 40% of long-range bus routes in Moscow.
Moscow has an extensive tram system, which first opened in 1899. Its daily usage by Muscovites is low (approximately 5%), although, it still remains vital in some districts, especially, in the centre for those who need to get to the nearby metro station. Increasingly tram-lines are the victims of road-widening schemes, and the tram-system's coverage is steadily decreasing. Buses and trolleybuses run from about 06:00 to 01:00, trams from about 05:30 to 01:00.
Public Transportation Ticket Options
One ticket covers one-way transportation on only one bus, trolleybus or tram (regardless the distance). If you transfer to another bus, trolleybus or tram, a new ticket will be required. Tickets for public transportation can be purchased from kiosks on the street. They are typically grey in colour and have a big sign saying "Proezdnyue Bilety" meaning "Public Transportation Tickets". These kiosks can be found outside many metro stations.
Bus, trolleybus, and tram tickets cost 24 Rbs for 1 ticket; 48 for 2 tickets, 90 for 5 tickets; 180 for 10 tickets, 369 Rbs for 20 tickets, 700 Rbs for 60 tickets (as of June 2010). The more tickets you buy, the cheaper the individual ticket gets. If you plan on frequently using public transportation, you may want to purchase a so-called "yediny" which costs 2140 Rbs. This pass is valid for one month and can be used for up to 70 rides on the metro and unlimited tram, bus, and trolleybus rides.
Another option is to purchase a so-called TAT or "proyezdnoi". The letters TAT stand for Tram, Autobus (bus), and Trolleybus. A TAT costs 830 Rbs (as of June 2010). As TAT tickets are not valid for the metro, you will have to purchase metro tickets separately.
You are strongly encouraged to obtain your bus/tram/trolley tickets before you travel. However, you can obtain a ticket on-board, in return for some practiced tutting and grumbling. If you buy a ticket directly from the tram, bus, or trolleybus driver, it will cost you 28 Rbs (as of June 2010). The drivers only sell the tickets during scheduled stops, and you should try to have the exact change on hand.
To enter the tram, bus or trolleybus you have to use a turnstile entrance within the vehicle, located past the driver's seat. All buses, trolleybuses and trams required you to enter through the front door and exit through the back door.
Hundreds of routes in Moscow are served by microbuses (small passenger vans). In Russian these are called "marshrutnoye taxi" or "marshrutka" for short. Their only similarity to a taxi is that they can - in theory - be hailed at the roadside without having to be at a stop, and they can drop you off anywhere along their (fixed) route that the driver considers safe. The routes normally start outside metro stations, and the drivers will stop anywhere along their route at passenger's requests. These small buses often go to places where there is no metro, such as many micro-neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Moscow. They often run long after the metro has closed - but with no guarantees, as the drivers are free agents, and can pack up and go home if it is a quiet evening with few clients.
While these small buses often are a quicker alternative to regular buses, their drivers are often overworked and/or drive recklessly. Accidents involving microbuses are frequent. Pricing on board is entirely up to the companies offering the route - usually they are posted on the buses' windows, along with information on the route and the micro bus number. A very large number of marshrutkas are offering a "private" alternative to specific public bus or tram route - and number themselves the same as the bus- or tram-number they are cloning. Since the public services are not-for-profit anyhow, they rarely complain about this competition - which relieves congestion on already-groaning main routes. Marshrutka offers travelers a slightly quicker journey, less crowding on board, and a guaranteed seat instead of having to stand (no standing is allowed in marshrutkas, for safety reasons). You have to tell (i.e. holler to) the driver in advance of where you'd like to stop.
Moscow has nine large train stations. All of them serve long-distance trains as well as short-distance commuter trains called "elektrichkas" that go to various suburbs of Moscow.
Commuter Trains ("Elektrichkas")
When visiting a location outside of Moscow, make sure you know which train station your elektrichka departs from. Not all elektrichkas travelling to the same destination will spot at all of the smaller stops in-between. Large boards on the main platform usually list the trains that are going to be leaving within the next couple of hours, and they normally mention whether the train will stop everywhere or not. If in doubt, ask! Suburban trains run relatively frequently and are usually on time.
If you plan on frequently travelling to the same destination by suburban train, you may want to purchase a timetable for that particular route; they are very cheap and available at the ticket counters. Generally there are more trains during morning and evening hours when people travel to and from work, and on summer weekends when entire families travel to and from their dachas. During summer the trains can get very crowded, and seating is limited. Note that most of these trains have no toilets; neither do the majority of the small station stops along the way.
Long-Distance Trains
Moscow's nine rail terminals (or vokzals) are:
They are located close to the city centre, each, dealing with trains from different parts of Europe and Asia. Tickets in general are relatively cheap.
If you contemplate a long-distance or overnight train journey make sure you buy a first or a least second class ticket. Some short- and medium-distance trains till have a third class, called "obshchy vagon". This is a carriage without any compartments, and you might end up sleeping next, above or under a noisy party of travelers - or military recruits on their way home on leave.
There are also different categories of train: "skory" ("fast", an outdated title in most cases, as it is rarely the fastest option), "express", and "firmenny" ("flagship service" - the highest category). Tickets cost more on better trains. You cannot buy a ticket merely specifying the route you want - you have to specify the train and time you intend to use, and you will be given an assigned wagon and seat (or berth, if the train is a sleeper). All long-distance routes longer than 24 hours are "compulsory sleeper" services - there is no "couchette" option. Firmenny trains are not only faster - they have greatly increased levels of comfort on board, nicer restaurant-wagons, and clean toilets, usually modern "airline-type" toilets. A useful "rule of thumb" when choosing trains - if you only know their numbers - is that the lowest-numbered trains are usually the best ones (firmenny). Faced with a choice of train 9 or train 371 on the same route, you'd be best to pick train 9. Some routes (e.g. Moscow - St. Petersburg) have competing commercial train operators, offering you a wider choice of services and prices.
Toilet facilities on non-firmenny Russian trains are not great, and it is absolutely essential to bring your own toilet paper and small pre-packed moist towelettes (the kind you get on airplanes). You might also want to bring some food and drink, especially if you are going to on longer trip. Routes longer than 24 hours always have a dining car - these tend to be either "nice but prohibitively expensive" or "cheap but grim" - almost all of them are nowadays operated as franchised businesses. Russian standard cafe fare is usually the extent of the menu - vegetarians are likely to fare quite poorly, even on better trains.
When travelling overnight, make sure you lock your compartment door. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially your passport and your wallet - thefts on trains can and do occur.
Most expatriates prefer not to use trains for long-distance travel; it is much easier and faster to fly. Overnight train rides to St. Petersburg, however, are a great experience, especially if you travel on one of the luxury trains (there is a choice of 5-6 premium-end train operators).
Apart from using public transportation, official and private taxis are the safest way to get around town. There are two different kinds of taxis in Russia, all of which are commonly referred to as "taxi": official and private taxis, and gypsy cabs.
Official and Private Taxis
Taxis come in various shapes and colours. The main feature of an official taxi is the presence of a meter, together with an official taxi sign either on the roof and/or on the doors. Official taxi drivers are supposed to switch on their meter when they pick you up and should charge you according to a "per km" rate (with a certain minimum charge), but many prefer not to do so. You may, therefore, have to agree on the fare before getting in. The same applies to gypsy cab drivers.
Note that in contrast to many countries, you cannot just get into an official taxi in Moscow and expect the driver to take you where you want to go. He may not be interested in taking you, particularly if you are going somewhere far from the city center.
Official taxis can be difficult to catch on the street - there aren't that many. If you expect that you will need a taxi, order one ahead of time. Private taxis will normally only pick up passengers who have ordered a car by phone or over Internet. Many of these cars also have taxi sign, but they usually do not have a meter.
Private taxi companies usually have a fixed charge - usually per 20 minutes. The taxi company should inform you of the charge when you order a car. Unless your company has a contact with a particular taxi company, you must pay a driver in cash. Few companies accept credit cards. If you need an official receipt, ask whether one can be provided before placing you order - not all companies provide this.
Gypsy Cabs
In Russia, the difference between hailing a cab (taxi) and simply hitchhiking is vague. Generally,
wherever you are, at any time of day or night, you can get a "cab" in a matter of minutes or seconds by holding out your hand. Normally, you tell the driver where you are going and negotiate an amount, with you naming the first price. For many locations, giving the closest metro station is the best. Keep in mind though that very few drivers speak English. "Chastniki" (gypsy cab drivers) drive their own cars that do not have any taxi signs on them.
Taxi Rules
To flag down a taxi or a gypsy cab, stand on the curb of the street and hold out your hand.
When a car stops, make sure that there are no other passengers in it.
Tell the driver where you want to go (e.g. name the street and the closest metro station). You will then be asked how much you are willing to pay for the trip.
If the driver is happy with your offer, he will say "Sadites" or "Poyekhali" (meaning "Sit down" or "Let's go").
Gypsy cab drivers often don't need instructions on how to get to your destination.
Few taxi drivers speak English or other foreign languages, so if your Russian is limited, ask someone to write your destination down for you in Russian and mark on a map so that you an show it to the driver.

There are over 3 million cars in the city on a daily basis. Recent years have seen a significant growth in the number of cars, which has lead to traffic jams and unavailability of parking space. The MKAD (Moscow Circular Car Road), along with the Third Transport Ring and the future Fourth Transport Ring is one of only three freeways that run within Moscow city limits. However, as one can easily observe from a map of Moscow area, there are several other roadway systems that form concentric circles around the city. You might want to rent a car to explore Moscow as a driver. Try one of the following car rental companies.
Moscow has two passenger riverboat terminals (South River Terminal and North River Terminal or Rechnoi Vokzal), serving regular ship routes and cruises along Moskva and Oka Rivers. Due to winter ice, the rivers are navigable from early April to mid-October for passenger transport, and for cargo - a little longer. Cruise ships, connecting Moscow with St. Petersburg, Astrakhan, Rostov-on-Don and other cities of the Volga region depart from the North River Terminal (Severny Rechnoi Vokzal). From the South River Terminal ships depart to Ryazan & Konstantinovo, on the Oka River to Nizhny Novgorod; ships for the Volga River leave from Severny Rechnoi Vokzal. Additionally the suburban ships "Raketa", "Moskva" serve Severny Rechnoi Vokzal to the recreation area of the reservoirs of the Moskva Canal, and on one-hour excursions on the Khimki Reservoir.
35.The Moscow Expat Site :: The virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians, Moscow, Russia  
Every day new on The Moscow Expat Site: is on Telegram!
Put the info, listings and links, parks and picks in your pocket! Expatsite on Tele packs all the opportunities, secrets, tips, vacancies in a channel-chat you should not be without!
The best people will always be in demand, so if you are seeking new challenges in your career or new outlets for your professional skills, let your mouse wander over to our Vacancies section, to find job openings posted and updated daily on The Moscow Expat Site. Vacancy of the day: Native English teacher is needed to give private lessons to school children and more young learners. Flaxible schedule is possible (part-time job), as many hours you like. Your wages rate will depend on your experience so please send us your SV to for more details. This vacancy is available for both young and more experienced teachers.
Culture Picks
Moscow's cultural scene is famously enormous and varied - but where to start? Our arts-savvy editorial team trawl what's on offer, to bring you our selection of Culture Picks for your leisure time.
Parks & Estates
If you'e feeling jaded by the grey grim concrete of your favourite haunts, Moscow is the perfect place to commune with nature without leaving the reaches of the Moscow Metro. The Moscow Expat Site has lined-up the complete listing of parks, former royal and aristocratic estates and other green spaces for your leisure-time hours, from black-tie outdoor classical concerts through to nudist beaches for those who like to get their kit off.
Moscow Phone Directory
Got your finger on the butten? Now you can, using the Moscow Expat Site Phone Directory - a unique listing of expat-friendly services and organizations that will be of maximum use and benefit to you. All the numbers are updated for accuracy, and many offer English-speaking services. Do more and find more in Moscow, with the Phone Directory!
36.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
How Do I Prepare for an International Move from or to Russia? How far in Advance Should I Start Preparing?
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37.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Why Use a Professional Moving Company, such as Allied Pickfords?
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38.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Export and Import of Motor Vehicles
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39.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Export and Import of Artwork and Antiques
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40.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Patriarshiye Prudy::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Patriarshiye Prudy
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41.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Packing your Personal Belongings
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42.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Export and Import of Pets
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43.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Polyanka-Yakimanka::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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44.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Krasnaya Presnya::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Krasnaya Presnya
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45.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Boulevard Ring::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Boulevard Ring
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46.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Prechistenka-Ostozhenka::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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47.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Pushkinskaya Square::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Pushkinskaya Square
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48.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Volkhonka::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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49.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Tverskaya::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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50.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Arbat::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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51.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Hamovniki::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians   
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52.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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53.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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54.The History of Moscow::Ancient Times and Rise of Moscow (5th-15th centuries)::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Ancient Times and Rise of Moscow (5th-15th centuries)
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55.Restaurant Reviews :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Restaurant Reviews
Planning to dine out? Visit the Expat Site Restaurant Guide
for a listing of restaurants and menus in English and Russian.
Every two weeks the Moscow Expat Site presents yet another Moscow eatery for your consideration.
If you'd like to suggest a restaurant for review - or even review a restaurant yourself - click here and we'll consider your suggestion.
56.Taxes :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Every foreigner coming to work in Russia has numerous points of interest regarding the Russian social security and personal income tax consequences that may arise for him and his employer as a result of his assignment. Here is a brief overview of many of the requirements in Russian tax law that need to be considered with regard to an individual assigned to work in Russia. However, the Russian tax system is fluid, requirements apparent in the law may not be what happens in practice, and there is wide scope for different interpretations by different chief accountants, tax inspectorates and tax inspectors. There is therefore, a real need to avoid assumptions and to check carefully before determining the likely tax consequences of any particular event.
Tax Residency, Rates and Scope
The starting point for analyzing an individual's Russian tax position will tend to be his tax residency status. This affects both the scope of income subject to tax, and the tax rates to be applied in Russia. However, there is a problem in this area, in that practice is not consistent with the Law. Under the Law, a tax resident is a person who is physically present in Russia for more than 182 days during a consecutive twelve month period. There is provision for absences caused by situations such as medical illness to continue to be counted as presence in Russia. However, the tax authorities view residency as determined with reference to presence in a calendar year (which was, interestingly, the old rule before the Law was changed).
Therefore, based on the tax authorities' current interpretation of the residency rule, if an individual spends at least 183 days in Russia in a calendar year, then he is tax resident and is taxable in Russia on most types of his worldwide income at the resident tax rate of 13%. Otherwise, he is a non-resident taxable in Russia at the 30% non-resident tax rate on his Russian source income.
Russian source income is generally defined as income arising from assets in Russia, or earned in Russia, irrespective of where the income is paid. There is also some debate as to the definition of a day of presence in Russia. The conservative position would be that days of arrival do not count in determining total presence in Russia, whilst days of departure do. However, a number of letters from the Ministry of Finance indicate that a taxpayer is viewed as present in Russia on both days of arrival and departure.
Taxable Income
The general philosophy of the Russian tax system is that all income is subject to tax, but there are nuances beyond this. To create the general picture on what may be included in the taxable income for Russian tax purposes, the most common income items subject to Russian income tax are set out below.
Employment Income
Employment income consists of compensation, whether received in cash or in kind, including, but not limited to, salary, bonuses and various expatriate allowances and benefits. Tax residents are entitled to certain types of deductions from income. Sometimes, reimbursements, which might be viewed as business expenses in other jurisdictions can be viewed as taxable income in Russia. The only material tax exempt type of income is employer provided insurance, but the details of this need to be checked dependent upon the specifics of each employer's programs.
Options and Equity Programs
Based on general tax principles, at the time of exercise of an employer-provided stock option, an employee recognizes income equal to the excess of the fair market value of the stock over the exercise price. Stock Grants are generally viewed as received for tax purposes at the point that all restrictions are lifted, and the value at that date is used to determine income. However, there are no specific rules for the taxation of, or sourcing of the income from, equity programs, so great care needs to be taken with the specifics of each particular plan.
Self-Employment and Business Income
The income of individuals engaged in self-employment activities is subject to income tax. Tax is levied on the individual's annual self-employment income, which consists of gross income, less documented expenses associated with the performance of the work. Under certain circumstances, a simplified tax regime may apply.
Investment Income
Dividends received by residents are subject to tax at a rate of 9%. Russian dividends received by non-residents are subject to tax at a rate of 15%. At the time of writing, consideration was being given to removing the 9% rate and reverting to 13% for residents.
Interest income on bank deposits held in the Russian Federation that exceeds the Central Bank's refinancing rate increased by 5 percentage points on rouble deposits (or for foreign-currency deposits, interest that exceeds 9%), is subject to tax at a penalty rate of 35%. Most other bank interest is exempt from tax.
Capital Gains
Income from the disposal of assets is included in regular income and from this it is possible for tax residents to deduct costs related to the asset's acquisition and sale. Special, but similar, rules apply to income from the disposal of securities. A separate capital gains tax does not apply.
Income received by foreign nationals working in Russia may be subject to tax withholding at source if delivered by a company registered in Russia. Under current tax law, all Russian companies, and foreign organizations operating in Russia through a representative office or a branch must act as a tax withholding agent, which usually means they must withhold the personal income tax at source.
The tax authorities view tax residency as ultimately being determined for a calendar year. However, for withholding, the tax agent must review the presence of the recipient of the income over the preceding twelve months. This potentially means that all newly arrived individuals are considered non-residents for Russian tax withholding purposes until they reach 183 days in Russia in the twelve months prior to a particular payment; thus, the non-resident tax rate of 30% applies to their income for tax withholding purposes. Individuals who arrived in Russia at the end of a previous year may be subject to 13% tax rate in the next year upon confirmation of their exceeding the 183-day period. However, future intention to stay in Russia for 183 days or more in the following twelve month period, even if he or she has a signed contract for this period with a company operating in Russia, does not allow an employer to use the 13% resident rate starting from the day of arrival of this individual. This rate can be applied only after the individual has actually spent 183 days in Russia in a 12-month period. At the time of each payroll payment during the year, the employer must verify the residency status of each employee and withhold income tax at the appropriate rate in accordance with the number of days the employee has spent in Russia in the 12-month period preceding the date of payment.
If Russian income tax is withheld from the expatriates' entire remuneration, then he may not be required to file a tax return in Russia, unless he has received other income subject to tax in Russia, but not subject to tax withholding.
Double Tax Relief and Tax Treaties
Russia has an extensive (and continuously expanding and revising) network of double tax treaties with many jurisdictions around the world.
Under these treaties taxpayers may be either exempt income from the payment of Russian tax or foreign tax paid may be credited against Russian tax payable, but the foreign tax credit may not exceed the Russian tax payable on the same income. To obtain an exemption or a tax credit, the taxpayer must submit a Russian tax return actively claiming the benefit, and present a certificate of residency from a country with which the Russian Federation has a double tax treaty, and a document certified by the tax authority of the foreign country proving that the income was received and the foreign tax was paid.
In practice, obtaining such reliefs can be problematical, and care needs to be taken in optimising the chances of success for any such claim.
The Russian Tax Code foresees standard, social, professional and property-related tax deductions available for tax residents.
Social Tax Deductions
These deductions include annual deductions for certain charitable contributions (up to 25% of income), education expenses for the taxpayers and their children (up to 50,000 Rbs per child per taxpayer), medical expenses for the taxpayers and expenses related to contributions to licensed Russian non-state pension funds.
Property-Related Tax Deductions
The most visible tax deductions are related to property. Income received from the sale of real property, which was in the ownership of a taxpayer for three years is effectively exempt from taxation in Russia, though this must be actively claimed on a tax return. If, however, this minimum holding period is not met, the gains derived from the sale of property are taxable in Russia as regular income (gross income less documented expenses). The ability to deduct costs or obtain special tax benefits tends to apply only to tax residents.
The taxpayer may alternatively elect to pay tax on the proceeds less a fixed annual deduction. In the case of real estate held fewer than three years, the maximum fixed deduction is 1 million roubles; in the case of other property (except securities) held fewer than three years, the maximum fixed deduction is 125,000 Rbs (250,000 Rbs starting January 2010). Income derived from the sale of securities is subject to special rules.
Income from the sale of a car which was owned by an individual for more than three years is no longer taxable from 2010.
Also, each tax resident individual claim a property-related tax deduction for the expenses incurred to construct or purchase certain real estate in Russia on a "once in a lifetime" basis. The deduction is limited to 2 million roubles. Mortgage and certain other interest payment are deductible in addition to the 2 million roubles.
Starting January 2010, tax residents are entitled to additional property-related tax deductions in the amount of interest on loans used for the acquisition of a plot of land, where residential real estate is located/constructed; in the amount of interest on the refinancing of loans used for the new construction/acquisition of a house; and in the amount of expenses incurred in connection with the preparation of design for residential real estate.
Tax Filing and Payment Procedures
The tax year in Russia is the calendar year. Tax returns must be filed by both tax residents and non-residents, who have at least one source of income subject to tax in Russia on which income tax has not been withheld by a tax agent. The final tax return must be submitted by 30 April of the year following the tax period with no extension available. The final tax must be paid no later than 15 July of the following year.
If a foreign individual plans to cease to engage in activities that generate income taxable in Russia and then leave the country, the individual must submit a departure declaration no later than one month before the individual leaves Russia. Tax due on the basis of the departure tax declaration must be paid no later than 15 days after the declaration is filed with the tax authorities.
Whilst there are no specific restrictions on amending tax returns, such amendments will inevitably attract attention, particularly, if the level of income is reduced, and the general course of prudence is to ensure that a return is correct before it is filed.
Currently, individual taxpayers pay taxes on a self-assessment basis. The Russian tax authorities are not obliged to issue official tax assessments. However, sometimes they do issue tax notifications (effectively the same thing), and very rarely, there may be some discrepancies between tax assessments made by the individual and the tax authorities.
Paying tax can be quite complex, and is best done directly from the personal Russian rouble bank account of the taxpayer directly to the accounts of the tax authorities. Importantly, companies cannot safely settle the personal tax liabilities of their expatriates, which presents logistical issues for those on net pay or tax protected or equalised compensation programs. There are numerous different accounts and other reference numbers and codes, and the taxpayer needs to make sure these are correctly included on the payment order. Payments often go missing within the tax authorities' system, and it is worthwhile checking that they have been properly credited to the taxpayer's account a few weeks after the payment is made.
Sanctions for Non-Compliance
There are certain fines established for non-compliance with the tax rules. Failure to submit tax returns after the filing deadline would result in a fine of 5% of the tax due under the return for each full or partial month of delay for the initial 180 days of delay and accelerating to 10% of tax due per full or partial month thereafter with no cap. Fines of 20% or 40% can also be imposed for under-declaration of income dependent upon whether this was accidental.
Late payment interest is charged for each day of late payment of the tax and is calculated as the amount of underpayment multiplied by 1/300 of the current Central Bank refinancing rate (currently 1/300 * 10%) per day.
Social Security Contributions
Under the current Russian law, all Russian companies or foreign organizations operating in Russia through a representative office or a branch, which make payments to individuals (including foreign individuals) under the employment or civil-law agreements are obliged to pay Unified Social Tax (UST) from the income delivered to the employees. The tax is paid entirely by the employer and there is no concept of matching employee contributions in Russia.
Due to the recent changes in the Russian law, starting January 2010, the UST will be replaced by social security contributions to the Russian various statutory funds, including the Pension, Medical and Social Insurance Fund. However, the remuneration paid under employment agreements and civil-law contracts to foreign citizens temporarily located in Russia (most expatriates on assignments in Russia who do not hold temporary or permanent residency permits) will not be subject to social contributions, since such foreign citizens are not entitled to the relevant benefits financed by the social funds.
In addition to the UST (or social security contributions starting January 2010), an employer must pay separate contributions to the Social Insurance Fund on behalf of all its employees, including foreign employees, insuring against accidents at work and professional diseases (the rate depends on the class of the professional risk for specific employer and vary from 0.2% to 8.5%). For most office employees the rate is 0.2% and this will continue for foreign nationals under the new regime.
In current Russian tax system, there are various pitfalls, which the unwary may encounter. Some of the most common of these are set out below in what is a far from comprehensive list.
The 183 Day Myth
There is common understanding that no tax would apply if an individual stays in Russia for fewer than 183 days. This may or may not be true. Non-residents are still taxed in Russia on their Russian source income. If all income subject to tax in Russia delivered through the local payroll, then tax would be withheld at source with no further need to submit tax return. If, however, the individual is paid by an offshore employer for his work in Russia, then it may be necessary to submit a Russian tax return.
No tax would apply if the individual's assignment and pay structure satisfies certain provisions of the relevant Double Tax Treaty (if this is the case). However, even in this situation, tax relief technically needs to be applied for by means of tax return submission. In order to claim a relief, an individual has to go through the long procedure of submission of various documents without any guarantee of the positive result.
Russia Only Has 13% Taxes Myth
This is not true. The tax rate for residents is 13%, but it is 30% for tax non-residents. Given that the definition of a tax resident is a matter for technical debate, great care is needed to ensure that the 13% rate will apply, particularly, for expatriates in the year of their arrival or departure. Whether a person arrives in the second half or the year or leaves in the first half of the year, achieving the necessary presence in Russia to be a tax resident can be logistically impossible. Many expatriates are also surprised to find that, even where they qualify for the 13% rate for a particular year, they do not receive the benefit of this immediately through payroll, at least in the early part of their assignment, but, instead, have to wait until they have been physically present in Russia for over 183 days. They then receive the refund of the "over-withheld" 17%, but the cash flow disadvantage can be an unpleasant surprise.
No Tax Deductions for Non-Residents
The current Tax Code does not foresee tax deductions for tax non-residents. These are available for tax resident individuals only. In this connection, tax non-residents cannot benefit from the most visible deductions related to the purchase or sale of a property in Russia. This is a particularly unpleasant surprise for persons disposing of property after they have left Russia, especially, where they have been waiting to qualify for the three year exemption before selling. There is a significant difference between paying no tax at all, and paying 30% on the full proceeds of sale without even a deduction for what one originally paid for the property.
Investment Income is not Tax Exempt
Offshore income received by Russian tax residents can be relieved from Russian tax in case the individual is either a tax resident in another jurisdiction or has paid tax there and a relevant Double Tax Treaty is in place. Depending on the situation, Russia might have the right to only tax income earned in Russia, or may give a credit for foreign taxes. However, offshore income is not just "tax free" as of right, and care needs to be taken to manage liabilities in this regard.
Equity Income May be Taxable in Russia, but No-One Really Knows How
There is great uncertainty as regards the taxation of various different types of employee equity plans. Such plans are usually operated by the employing group, but often by a (non-Russian) entity (or employee benefit trust) other than the actual employer. It is very rare that such programs are managed locally with tax withholding through Russian payroll. This places the requirement to determine tax treatment onto the individual, and he will have difficulty determining how much income he has received, when he receives it and to what duties this income relates. It is hard to determine the "right" answer to these questions as whatever arguments could be used could be countered through different logic. In reality, many taxpayers have used the arguments that suit them best, which would tend to analyses that suggest they have no receipt of income, or that the income has nothing to do with Russia, or that the level of that income is as low as possible. This has led to something of an urban myth that income from equity programs is exempt from Russian tax, but this can be a dangerous assumption. There is increasing transparency in Russia with regard to the allocation of the costs of corporate equity programs; hence, aggressive or even non-compliant tax filing positions that may have proved successful in the past are no longer safe.
How Will They Know?
In a self declared, self assessed tax system, where tax scrutiny tends to fall upon those who file tax returns rather than those who do not, some individuals may well ask the question of why they should file a return and what tools the tax authorities may have to find out about non-compliance if they do not.
There has been a general drift to improved compliance in recent years, particularly, amongst expatriates. This has been partly driven by corporate policy of good governance, but also because with its low tax rates, declaring income and paying tax in Russia has proven good tax planning in assisting with the avoidance of tax on that income in other jurisdictions. This does mean the tax authorities have been improving their knowledge, because they are seeing more. The quality of the record keeping at the tax authorities is also improving, and becoming more computerized (the authorities are asking for individual tax returns for 2009 to be submitted with an electronic copy, as well as the traditional paper forms), making data easier to find.
However, greater risks arise through the increased transparency of accounting and corporate recharging, where the costs of an expatriate's remuneration paid outside of Russia need to be made more explicit and clear at the level of the host Russian business so as to minimize the level of risk of that business being denied a corporate tax deduction. Whilst the specifics of tax cases are different, the general trend has been for corporate taxpayers to win in court, where the documentation for recharged costs is clear and open, but to lose where it is opaque and the costs of expatriates remain more obscure. Hence, an assumption by an expatriate that the authorities will not know about his offshore paid income is dangerous, as his employer may well be providing documentation that specifically evidences this.
Recent years have also seen a significant rise in the level of contact between the Russian tax authorities and other jurisdictions, with voluntary sharing of data about persons with tax affairs in both. Particular contact has been noted with France, Germany and Finland, with countries using the mutual co-operation provisions of tax treaties to help them identify potential tax evasion. This trend echoes a more general global pattern, and whilst Russia remains well behind many other jurisdictions in the sophistication of its tax control, it is improving quite rapidly. Non-compliance is increasingly risky, whilst the tax cost of actual compliance is low, even if the administration of it remains burdensome.
57.The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
The History of Moscow
The first reference to Moscow dates back to 1147 when Yuri Dolgoruky called upon the Prince of Novgorod-Seversky: "come to me, brother, to Moscow". Nine years later, in 1147, Prince Yuri Dolgorukov of Rostov ordered the construction of a wooden wall - which was to be rebuilt multiple times - to surround the emerging city. The city replaced Tver and became the capital of Vladimir-Suzdal during the reign of Ivan I. In 1480, Ivan III won a great victory against the Tatars and made Moscow the capital of the new Russian Empire that soon included all Russia and Siberia. Despite destruction by fires and Mongol and Tatar invasions, Moscow expanded until it became the national capital in the 16th century - when Ivan IV, Prince of Moscow, took the title "tsar". Peter the Great moved the capital to St.-Petersburg in 1712, and a consequent period of decline followed in Moscow. The city was burnt down again in 1812 during the war with Napoleon's France but was rebuilt and expanded rapidly as an industrial and communications center. After the 1917 Revolution Moscow again became the national capital in 1918 and has continued to grow in both size and influence, particularly since the end of WW2, to become the country's leading industrial, cultural and political center.
Ancient Times and Rise of Moscow (5th-15th Centuries)
Ivan the Terrible and the Times of Troubles (16th-17th Centuries) The Origin of Romanovy Dynasty (17th Century)
Reign of Peter the Great (Late 17th-18th Centuries)
Palace Revolutions and Catherine the Great (18th Century) Russia in the 19th Century
October Revolution (1917)
Soviet Union (1920-50s)
From Thaw to Perestroika (1950-90s)
Present Times
58.Landlord Registration Letter :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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59.Present Times::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Present Times
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60.Ask your Visa and Travel advisor  
Are you going to travel to Russia, or do you plan to go abroad? Do you need to register your visa, or want to work officially and get a work permit? Or maybe you have other travel inquires and do not know how to fulfill your plans?
Please address your questions to your online Visa and Travel advisor Andrew’s Travel House. We really like the idea of helping people!
Just a brief company history, so you can rely on our services even more. The result of a successful merger between Andrew's Consulting and Travel House, Andrews Travel House is one of the oldest and largest corporate travel management companies in Russia, being active in this field since 1994. Andrews Travel House offers a complete travel service including flight booking, accommodation and visa services for foreigners wishing to travel within Russia, and for Russians looking to travel abroad.
In addition to providing one-stop corporate travel services, Andrews Travel House offers incentive programs, training seminars and special leisure packages for corporate clients and their staff, as well as high class FIT services for individual travelers via partner agencies.
For more information on any of our services contact Andrews Travel House
in Moscow: +7 (095) 916-9898, in St.Petersburg: +7 (812) 325-9400,
or in London: +44 (0) 20 77272838. E-mail:
61.Patriarshy Dom Tours :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Capital Tours is the first company in Russia organizing regular daily City Bus Tours, weekly Kolomenskoye Estate, Lubyanka and Gulag tour, Metro tour, Red Square and Kitai Gorod tour (including St.Basil's Cathedral). Regardless of the weather, we are always at your service. Capital Tours offers you a commentary by an English-speaking guide. Moscow All Around (The Moscow City Bus Tour): 7 days a week (even if it snows) Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:30, 13:30; Monday, Wednesday at 10:30 only. Adults: in the office 950 Rbs, on the bus 1000 Rbs, children: in the office 450 Rbs, on the bus 500 Rbs, Lubyanka and Gulag tour: every Thursday from 14:00 to 16:30. Adults: 1000 Rbs, children: 800 Rbs, Kolomenskoye Estate: every Thursday from 10:30 to 13:30. Adults: 1000 Rbs, children: 800 Rbs; Metro Tour: every Sunday from 11:00 to 13:00. Adults: 700 Rbs, children: 500 Rbs; Red Square and Kitai Gorod tour: every Sunday from 14:00 to 17:00. Adults: 1000 Rbs, children: 400 Rbs.
Address: Gostiny Dvor, Ilyinka ul., 4, vkhod 6, 7. Tel: 232-2442, Fax: 234-2717;
At the Russian-American Cultural Center we offer unique group tours, led in each case by an expert in the field. We offer other services, including hotel reservations, special private tours tailored to individual interests, both in Moscow and St. Petersburg. We also offer group or private Russian language classes for all levels as well as interpreting and organizational support for business negotiations. You can also book plane and trane tickets with us.
In Russia:
Tel/Fax: (501/495) 795-0927
E-mail: alanskaya@co.ruIn the United States:
Tel/Fax: 1 650 6787076
62.Ask your realtor :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
IntermarkSavills is a partnership of Intermark and Savills, the leading international property services group.
If you are looking to rent an apartment or country house turn to IntermarkSavills and we will select the most suitable variants for you. The process of searching for an apartment can be stressful for you and your family, but you can rest assured that IntermarkSavills will solve all your problems connected to renting a home.
With us you can always count on efficient, effective and professional services. You can familiarize yourself with current offers on the rental market on our website, which has a daily updated database of properties. Here you will find detailed descriptions, conditions of rent, good quality photos, floor plans and also maps of the local area for each property.
If you are interested you may select a property on our website.
+7 (495) 502-9553, +7 (495) 775-2240,
63.Restaurant Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Restaurant Guide
For advice, recommendations, and words of warning, check out our restaurant reviews in the Dining Out section.
64.Resumes :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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65.Clothing Sizes :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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66.Cooking Conversion Tables :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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67.Real Estate Offered :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Real Estate Offered
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68.Real Estate Offered :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Real Estate Offered
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69.Our partners :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Our partners
If you want to become our partner feel free to write us at
Founded in 1995, the AEB is an independent non-commercial association with a membership of over 550 companies from across the European Union and Russia. Their members range from large multi-national corporations to SMBs and are united by their commitment to forging stronger economic ties between the EU and Russia, as well as improving the business environment here in Russia.

French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Russia
The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Russia (CCIFR) was born in 1997, initially as a French business club, Le Club France. CCIFR is a private, non-profit association, designed to facilitate business between France and Russia. Its mission is to help to increase French investments into Russian economy, to create a better environment for development of French business in Russia and of Russian business in France. Now CCIFR has more than 200 corporate members and keeps growing further. CCIFR organizes many events, such as weekly petits dejeuners targeting topical key business issues. CCIFR works with many Russian regions, such as Saratov, Omsk, Kuban.
The Russo-British Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1916 as a private, non-profit making organisation, designed to facilitate business between Britain and Russia. We are uniquely placed to assist our members in both countries, drawing on our 90 years of experience in this field. Our team will help you find potential partners and assist in marketing your products and services. We also provide business information and compile reports on request. The RBCC organises its own independent events, including exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and trade missions. With senior representation at Advisory Council and Board level from both UK and Russian business, the RBCC is uniquely well-inofrmed.
70.Vacancies :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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71.Community Calendar :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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72.Business Calendar :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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73.Children Calendar :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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74.Beaches & Swimming Pools :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Olympic Village - 80
Address: Olimpiyskaya Derevnya, 2
Metro: Yugo-Zapadnaya
Tel: 437-1698
25-meter indoor pool and a paddling pool. Open daily 07:30-22:00.
75.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Zamoskvorechiye::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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76.Real Estate Wanted :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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77.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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78.About The Moscow Expat Site :: The virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians, Moscow, Russia  
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79.Parks & Estates:: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Parks & Estates
There are ninety-six parks and eighteen gardens in Moscow, including four botanical gardens. There are also 450 (174 sq.mi) of green zones besides 100 (39 sq.mi) of forests. Moscow is a very green city if compared to other cities of comparable size in Western Europe and America. There are on average twenty seven square meters (290 sq.ft) of parks per person in Moscow compared with 6 for Paris, 7.5 in London and 8.6 in New York.
Moscow has many large and pleasant parks. Some are plain parks, others have ponds or beaches and yet others contain old palaces/estates or other places of interest. Some are great for hiking, cycling, rollerblading and/or cross-country skiing. Most parks are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Note that most neighborhoods also have smaller local parks, some of which have playgrounds.
Aleksandrovsky Sad (Garden)
The capital's most central park runs along the Kremlin's western walls. Aleksandrovsky Sad is directly accessible from the metro station bearing the same name. Picturesque gardens with shady trees and broad lanes were designed and set up in 1821 by O. Bove, one of the chief architects of Moscow, who reconstructed the city after the Great Fire of 1812. First called the Kremlin Gardens, they changed the name in 1856 after the crowning of Alexander II. On the central square of the gardens you can see the "Ruines" grotto, a peculiar memorial of the revival of Moscow after the devastation in 1812. It contains the Grave of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame, where you can watch the hourly changing of the guards. To get to the garden, take the metro to the station Aleksandrovsky Sad; it is also just a 3 minute walk from the metros Teatralnaya, Okhotny Ryad, Ploshchad Revolutsii, and a 5 minute walk from Borovitskaya.
Metro: Aleksandrovsky Sad
All-Russia Exhibition Center (VVTs - formerly called VDNKh)
This huge exhibition center and park containing samples of monumental Soviet architecture and oversized statues was established in 1937. There are over 80 pavilions that used to display communism's latest achievements in science, agriculture, industry, and technology. Most pavilions have been turned into miniature shopping centers, but some still function as exhibits, for example the "Sadovodstvo" (Gardening) pavilion. Do not miss the impressive Fountain of People's Friendship (Fontan Druzhby Narodov) right in the center of the park. It consists of 15 gold-covered statues representing all 15 republics of the former Soviet Union. There is also a Museum of Astronautics; that is definitely what Soviet Union had reasons to be proud of. There are many legendary objects on display including first ever astronauts - stuffed dogs Belka and Strelka. The museum is located in the monument to the Explorers of Space. And, of course, recently restored Vera Mukhina's 24.5 meter (80 ft.) "Worker and Kolkhoznitsa" monument is a must-see sculpture. The VVTs features Russia's biggest Ferris wheel and many other attractions. When you get tired of wandering around this seemingly endless territory, you can sit down to enjoy a shashlik or plov at one of the many outdoor and indoor cafes. To get to the exhibition center, just take the metro to the station VDNKh - VVTs is a 3 minute walk from the metro.
Open: 08:00 - 22:00 (summer); 09:00 - 19:00 (winter)
Metro: VDNKh
Tel: +7 495 544-3400
Aptekarsky Ogorod (Apothecary's Garden)
This is Moscow State University's (MGU's) oldest botanical garden (founded in 1706 by a decree from Peter the Great). You can also visit the greenhouse and laboratory. To get to the garden, take the metro to the station Prospekt Mira, take a short walk along Prospekt Mira and turn to Grokholsky pereulok, the entrance to the garden is just a 1 minute walk after the turn. The entry price of 300 RUR. For children under school age the entry is free.
Open: 10:00 - 18:00 (winter); 10:00 - 21:00 (summer)
Address: Prospekt Mira, 26
Metro: Prospekt Mira
Tel: +7 495 680-6765 / 7222 / 5880
Excursions: +7 967 2089878 (10:00 - 18:00, 11:00 - 16:00)
Bitsevsky Les
This is a large park and silver birch forest in the south of Moscow. It has two ponds with beaches, and although swimming is not recommended, you can still enjoy the beach atmosphere. The park also features volleyball, basketball, and badminton courts; and you can hire a rowboat, paddleboat, or bike. Further into the forest there is an equestrian center. Great for sledding in winter. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Novoyasenevskaya (the park is just next to the station); the park is also accessible from the metro station Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya - once out of the metro, walk along Akademika Yangelya ulitsa for about 1 mile or take bus 680, 118 or minibus 566M to the station "Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya", then take a 3-4 minute walk to the park.
Address: Novoyasenevskiy tupik, 1
Metro: Novoyasenevskaya, Ulitsa Akademika Yangelya
Tel: +7 495 426-0022, +7 499 739-2705/07/08
Botanichesky Sad (Botanical Garden)
Rose garden, arboretum with exotic trees and bushes, greenhouse with orchids, lilies and lotuses, Japanese Garden. Founded in 1945. To get to the garden, take the metro to the station Vladykino, once out of the metro, walk for about 200 meters (0.12 mi) to the main entrance. The garden is also accessible from the metro VDNKh - take trolleybus 73, 36 to the station "Botanicheskaya ulitsa 33", or minibus 324M to the station "Glavny Vkhod Botanicheskogo Sada".
Open: 10:00 - 20:00 (garden summer only, except Mon, Thu); 10:00 - 16:00 (hothouse except Thu, Sat, Sun)
Address: Botanicheskaya ul., 4
Metro: Vladykino
Tel: +7 499 977-9145
Bulvarnoe Koltso (Boulevard Ring)
Bulvarnoe Koltso is comprised of the following streets: Gogolevsky Bulvar, Tverskoy Bulvar, Strastnoy Bulvar, Petrovsky Bulvar, Rozhdestvensky Bulvar, and Sretensky Bulvar. It forms a semi-circle around the center of Moscow and is ideal for leisurely strolls. A walk along the boulevard ring's park-like areas is a great way to explore the city center, undisturbed by traffic. The park strip is situated in the middle of the road, in-between traffic lanes. Scores of beautiful old buildings are located along this route (and down the side streets leading off Bulvarnoe Koltso), and there are plenty of benches to sit and relax on along the way. It is also well worth venturing into some of the side streets branching off from the ring - you will find lots of pretty lanes with interesting buildings there.
Metros: Kropotkinskaya, Chistye Prudy, Turgenevskaya, Tsvetnoy Bulvar, Pushkinskaya
Ekaterininskiy Park
Pond with ducks and boat rentals, tennis courts, the House of Culture, the Museum of the Soviet army with planes and military equipment and much more. Nearby there is a health center for veterans. Playgrounds are concentrated in the side. Amongst playgrounds there is a large-scale concreted area for bicycles, scooters and roller skates.
Open: 06:00 - 23:00 (summer), 09:00 - 17:00 (winter)
Address: Bolshaya Ekaterininskaya ul., 27
Metro: Prospekt Mira
Tel: +7 495 600-6460 / 6391
Great park for walking, hiking, and cycling. The famous Gorbushka shopping center is located right outside metro Bagrationovskaya. Centrally-located Filyovsky Park runs along the banks of Moscow River and covers 266.6 hectares with 90% of it being perfectly green area. Once it was the estate of Naryshkiny noble family that owned the estate for 175 year. The restored palace of the 18th century is a beautiful reminder of those days. Filyovsky Park is a great place for both quiet contemplation of nature and active recreation. Different parts of the park are accessible from 4 metro stations: your options are to take the metro to the station Bagrationovskaya, once out of the metro walk for about 450 meters (0.3 mi) to the park along Barklaya ulitsa, or to choose the metro station Filyovsky park and a 0.3 mile walk along Minskaya ulitsa, or you can take the metro to the station Pionerskaya and walk for about 250 meters (0.16 mi) along Polosukhina ulitsa, and finally you can come to the metro station Kuntsevskaya and walk for about 600 meters (0.4 mi) along Rublevskoe shosse (duplicate).
Adress: Bolshaya Filevskaya ul., 22
Metro: Bagrationovskaya, Filyovsky Park, Pionerskaya, Kuntsevskaya
Tel: +7 499 145-5155 / 0000
Goncharovskiy Park
There are four playgrounds, fitness and dance floor, a stage for the holidays. The central object which attracts visitors here, is the place for squirrels. A renewed outdoor furniture and free wi-fi make this park convenient not only for recreation but also work.
Address: Rustaveli ul.
Metros: Timiryazevskaya, Dmitrovskaya
Open: 07:00 - 23:00
Tel: +7 499 908-3500
Gorky Park
Moscow's most famous park runs along the banks of the Moscow River. Gorky Park is truly one of the most popular places for families to spend their week-end. Numerous fairground attractions such as the Big Wheel, switchback (for unknown reason known in Russia as American Hills), swirling see-saw make children's heads go round of joy while their parents are screaming of fear. There are also horses, boats to hire and caf?s. An ice-skating rink operates in winter. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Park Kultury and cross the bridge over the Moscow River, or take the metro to the station Oktyabrskaya and walk for about 400 meters (0.2 mi) along Krymsky Val ulitsa.
Open: 24/7
Address: Krymsky Val ul., 9
Metro: Oktyabrskaya, Park Kultury
Tel: +7 495 995-0020 # 6
Hermitage Garden
Three theatres are located inside this very centrally located park - the Hermitage Theatre, the Novaya Opera, and the Sfera. Outdoor dancing hall and several open-air cafes. Lots of flowers and benches, alleys and the fountain create a special atmosphere of peace and quiet. To get to the garden, take the metro to the stations Chekhovskaya, Tverskaya, or Pushkinskaya and then walk along Malaya Dmitrovka ulitsa and turn right to Uspensky pereulok.
Open: 24/7
Address: Karetny Ryad ul., 3, str. 7
Metro: Chekhovskaya, Tverskaya, Pushkinskaya
Tel: +7 495 699-0849 / 0432
Izmailovsky Park
Izmallovsky Park consists of a vast area of parkland (over 1500 hectares) and a large forest consisting of pine trees, birch woods, and ponds. It is 6 times larger then the central park in New York. This is where the Russian tsars once had their summer estates and hunting grounds. Other attractions include a large skating rink in winter. The park is great for family picnics in summer. It is located adjacent to Izmailovsky Vernisazh - Moscow's famous outdoor souvenir market. The park also features a wide variety of attractions for children. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Partizanskaya (the park is just next to the station) or take the metro to the station Shosse Entuziastov, once out of the metro, take a 3 minute walk along Elektrodny proezd.
Address: Alleya bolshogo kruga, 7/A
Metro: Partizanskaya, Shosse Entuziastov
Tel: +7 499 166-6119
Khamovniki Park
Khamovniki is one of the greenest and most picturesque areas of Moscow. Here is park named Mandelstam, another name is the Estate of the Trubetskoy family in Khamovniki - well-kept green area with a playground, pond, tennis courts and an aviary for protein. Park "Novodevichy ponds" is nearby, the sport and recreation complex "Luzhniki" and the famous Neskuchny Sad (Garden) are along the bordering area of ​​the Moskva River.
Open: 09:00 - 21:00
Address: Usacheba ul., 1A
Metro: Frunzenskaya
Tel: +7 495 637-0048
Krasnaya Presnya Park
Open: 09:00 – 22:00
Address: Mantulinskaya ul., 5
Metro: 1905 Goda, Vustavochnaya
Krylatskie Hills
Located in the West of Moscow in one of the capital's few ecologically clean areas, this park has grassy slopes that are great for cross-country skiing and sledding in winter. Good hiking trails and a challenging cycling track are ideal for summer sports. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Krylatskoye and take a 5 minute walk from the metro to the park.
Metro: Krylatskoye
Kuzminki – Lyublino
The park is located in Kuzminki Estate which traces its history from 1702. Muscovites call Kuzminki Estate "the Russian Versal"; this wonderful architectural ensemble was created by celebrated architects Matvey Kozakov, Vasily Bazhenov and the Gilyardi family. Church of the Vlakhernskaya Virgin is an outstanding architectural masterpiece. In winter you can ride a dog team here or take part in the traditional Russian amusements; in summer you can make a bike-excursion about the estate or sail over the Kuzminki ponds and watch splendid flowerbeds planted for the flower festival. You can also rent the picnic area or picnic point.
Address: Kuzminskaya ul., 10
Metro: Kuzminki
Tel: +7 495 258-4560, +7 495 377-3593
Losiny Ostrov
Russia's first national park used to be the nobility's favorite hunting ground. Some wild animals including moose, wild boar, and beavers still live here. There are three ponds with different kinds of fish. The park is also great for hiking. "Los" in Russian means "elk", and there are many elks in the park indeed. The visitors may watch them in their natural habitat. Excursions in English are available. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Shchelkovskaya, once out of the metro take trolleybus 23, or minibus 583, or bus 257 to the station "Uralskaya ulitsa 19", and then take a short walk to reach the park.
Address: Poperechniy prosek, 1G
Metro: Shchelkovskaya
Tel: +7 499 268-6045
Excursions: +7 903 7445855
Milutinskiy Park (Garden)
Cozy courtyard is like old pictures. Roundabouts, sandboxes, playgrounds and wooden houses. The Center of aesthetic education is located in the houses where there are dozens of different clubs for children from 5 to 18 years.
Open: 07:00 - 21:30
Address: Pokrovskiy bulvar, 10, entrance from Khokhlovsky pereulok
Metro: Chistye Prudy
Tel: +7 495 917-9013
Moskovsky Park Iskusstv "Museon" (Moscow Park of Arts)
Founded in 1993, this open-air sculpture museum has a collection of over 700 sculptures. Here you will find many Soviet-era monuments that were removed from their pedestals in Moscow's squares and parks after 1991, including the controversial statute of the Soviet Union's first KGB chief Felix Dzerzhinsky that used to stand right in the middle of Lubyanskaya Ploshchad in the city center. The park is located next to the Central House of Artists, across the road from Gorky Park. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Park Kultury and cross the bridge over the Moscow River, or take the metro to the station Oktyabrskaya and walk for about 400 meters (0.2 mi) along Krymsky Val ulitsa.
Open: 24/7
Address: Krymsky Val, 10
Metro: Oktyabrskaya, Park Kultury
Tel: +7 495 995-0020 # 6
Neskuchny Sad (Garden)
This garden consists of terraces sloping down to the Moscow River and provides scenic hiking trails. It houses a wooden playground, an open-air theater, and plenty of benches. The name of the park translates as "Never Boring Garden." Once a noble estate, it is one of the oldest parks in Moscow. In the 18th century there were three mansions which belonged to Prince Trubetskoy. All that is left is part of the park and a "Hunters' house". In the middle of the 19th century a new owner, Prokofy Demidov, built a palace here. Originally it was designed in Baroque Style, rebuilt in the time of Classicism and its interiors are typical for the Empire Style. Here on the bank of the Moscow-river one of the largest in Europe Botanic gardens appeared; among its trees several historical objects are found today: the house of Count Orlov (1796), a vaulted bridge, and the house with rotunda. You can get to this park either through Gorky Park or take the metro to the station Leninsky Prospekt and take a 2 minute walk to reach the park.
Metro: Leninsky Prospekt, Oktyabrskaya, Park Kultury
Tel: +7 495 995-0020 # 6
Park of the 50th Anniversary of October
This densely wooded and impressive size park is the ideal place for picnics. Playgrounds are basic. No attractions. The cafe "Central Park" with friendly staff and tasty sandwiches works at the entrance to the park.
Adress: Udaltsova ul., 22A
Metro: Prospekt Vernadskogo
Park Pobedy (Victory Park)
This huge park, also referred to as Poklonnaya Gora was established in 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Soviet Union's World Two victory over Nazi Germany. Once it was a hill where all important guests of the capital were met with a bow ("poklon" means a bow). It contains the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War, an art gallery, the Cathedral of the Great Martyr Georg, a mosque and a synagogue erected in memory of those Muslims and Jews who have perished in the horror of the war. Moscow famous sculptor Zurab Tsereteli has placed here one of his most monumental masterpieces: the statue of St. Georg spearing the dragon. Another thing that attracts visitors is the chain of fountains illuminated in bloody red in the evening; this symbolizes the floods of blood shed by Soviet soldiers. Skateboarders love to use perfectly smooth marble surface for their exercises. On May 9th (Victory Day), Muscovites gather here to celebrate the triumph over Nazi Germany. The park is great for walking, rollerblading, skateboarding, or reading a book. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Park Pobedy, the park is just next to the station.
Open: 10:00 - 18:00 (museum Tue-Sun)
Address: Bratiev Fonchenko ul., 7, Poklonnaya Gora
Metro: Park Pobedy
Tel: +7 499 148-8300
Web: www.
Perovskiy Park
Address: Lazo ul., 7
Metro: Perovo
Tel: +7 495 309-5342
Fax: +7 495 309-5163
Pokrovskoe-Streshnevo Park
Pokrovsky-Streshnevo is the former family estate near Moscow with an adjacent park.
Address: Ac. Kurchatova ul.
Metro: Shchukinskaya
Presnenskiy Park
The park with modern playgrounds, chess town, a sports complex and flowerbeds. The unique fairy-tale characters will not leave anyone indifferent!
Open: 07:00 - 22:00
Address: Druzhinnikovskaya ul., 9, str. 2
Metros Krasnopresnenskaya, Barrikadnaya
Serebryanny Bor (Silver Pine Forest)
This is a huge forest and park area that contains Moscow's most popular beaches. It features changing rooms, clean sand, beach volleyball areas, and boat, scooter and paddleboat rental. There are plenty of outdoor cafes and ice-cream stands. Note that the water may not be 100% safe for swimming. Serebryanny Bor is also great for cross-country skiing in winter. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Polezhaevskaya and take trolley bus 20, 21, 65 or minibus 65 to the stop "Serebryanny Bor", or you can take the metro to the station Oktyabrskoe Pole and then take minibus 15M to the station "4aya Liniya".
Open: 09:00 - 21:00 (beach)
Address: 4aya Liniya Khoroshevskogo Serebryannogo Bora
Metro: Polezhaevskaya, Oktyabrskoe Pole
Tel.: +7 495 789-2570, +7 929 9990415
Severnoe Tushino Park
Table tennis, dance floor, video arcade and children playground with attractions. Bicycles, roller skates and rackets on hire.
Address: Svobodi ul., 56
Metro: Planernaya
Tel: +7 495 640-7355
Excursions: +7 926 5221596
Fax: +7 495 640-7354
Sokolniki Park
This 600-hectare park surrounded by a forest is where the tsars used to bring their falcons (a falcon is called a "sokol" in Russian) to hunt foxes and other small animals. The first path was cut through the forest on the initiative of Peter the Great and since that all paths have the name "proseka" (cuttings). Today there are seven cuttings: Birch Cutting, Maple, Elm and others; they all form radial structure of the park. More than 500 kinds of plants and 70 kinds of animals inhabit this thicket. The international exhibition center in this park often holds large trade fairs. The spacious green areas with ponds, pavilions and playgrounds allow for nice walks. Fun fair, horseback riding, restaurant. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Sokolniki, and take a short walk along the alley.
Address: Sokolnicheskiy Val, 1, str. 1
Metro: Sokolniki
Tel: +7 499 393-9222
Taganskiy Park
Park of clture and leisure "Taganskiy", a comfortable and eco-friendly island of fresh air, is located in the center of Moscow, in the heart of Taganskiy district. For the past years, the park is cultural, recreational and sports center of the district.
Open: 07:00 - 23:00
Address: Taganskaya ul., 40/42
Metro: Taganskaya
Tel: +7 495 912-2717
Troparyovo Park
A green oasis in the South of Moscow, this park has a beach, changing rooms, refreshment stands, a chess club, open-air stage, and ping pong tables. Canoes and paddleboats are available for rent. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Tyoply Stan, then walk for about 400 meters (0.2 mi) to reach the park.
Metro: Tyoply Stan
Vorobyovy Gory (Sparrow Hills)
Located adjacent to Moscow State University (MGU), this area is great for walking and rollerblading in the summer with a magnificent view of the city on a smog-free day from the platform across from the University. Birds have nothing to do with the name: in the 15th century one noble lady bought a village here from a priest called Vorobey. Vorobey's name has outlived the glory of the Great Soviet leader Lenin, whose name this hill wore in the Soviet times. In front of the facade of MSU facing the Moscow-river there is a big square and a lovely alley decorated with busts of famous Russian scientists. The alley leads to the best observation point of the city. Many newlyweds will visit this famous place after their official wedding ceremony. In winter you can also observe snow-boarders and alpine skiers on the hill underneath. On weekend nights, the roads between the platform and Moscow State University are the scenes for impromptu car races. Souvenir vendors are always on the platform. To get to the park, take the metro to the station Vorobyovy Gory, then walk up the hill to the observation point.
Metro: Vorobyovy Gory
Vorontsovskiy Park
The park is located on the territory of the former Vorontsovo Estate. Vorontsovo is the landscaped park with linden alleys, benches, woodpeckers, squirrels, and cascading ponds - the rare thing for a Moscow park design.
Open: 09:00 - 23:00 (summer), 10:00 - 22:00 (winter)
Address: Vorontsovsky park, 3
Metro: Novye Cheryomushki
Tel: +7 495 580-2678
Abramtsevo was mentioned in official documents for the first time in the 17th century. In 1843 Abramtsevo became property of a famous Russian writer Sergey Aksakov and after Aksakov's death it was bought by a successful manufacturer and patron of arts Savva Mamontov. At this estate you can see a collection of ceramics made by Vrubel and exhibitions dedicated to the estate's famous visitors (Turgenev, Repin, Vrubel, and others). Today Abramtsevo occupies about 50 hectares (0.2 sq. mi) along with a park and picturesque outskirts of the Vorya River and comprises architectural monuments created in the 18-19th centuries. The museum's collection features more than 25,000 items: pictures, drawings, sculptures, arts and crafts, photographs and archives of previous owners. To get to the estate, drive along Yaroslavskoe shosse from the city center, reach the 60th km of Yaroslavskoe shosse, watch for Khotkovo direction sign and turn left or you can take electric train (elektrichka) from Yaroslavsky railway station to the station "Abramtsevo".
Open: 10:00 - 21:00 (park), expositions: 10:00 – 18:00, Sat until 20:00
Tel: +7 495 993-0033, +7 496 543-0278
Excursions: +7 916 2784542, +7 496 543-2470
Arkhangelskoye Museum Estate
Arkhangelskoye is referred to as the Versailles of the Moscow region. At the beginning of the 18th century, the estate belonged to Prince D.M. Golitsyn. After his death, it was purchased by Prince N.B. Yusupov (1751-1831), one of Russia's richest noblemen. Prince Yusupov was a well-known art lover and collector and moved his art collection to Arkhangelskoye. It included over 500 paintings by European masters from the 17th to the 19th centuries, many of which are still on display at the estate today. The collection also includes rare books from the 16th to the 19th centuries, as well as sculptures, bronzes, clocks, furniture, porcelain, etc. The Church of Mikhail Archangel built in the 17th century stands on a high bank of the Moscow-river. There is also a theatre with decorations by famous artist P. Gonzaga, and, of course, The Colonnade. To get to the estate, go along Rublyovo-Uspenskoye shosse and turn right at the first traffic light after the village of Zhukovka onto llinskoye Shosse, drive 5 more km, or take the metro to the station Tushinskaya, then take bus 549, 541 or microbus 151 to the stop "Sanatory".
Open: 10:00-20:00 (Wed-Sun)
Metro: Tushinskaya
Tel: +7 (495) 363-1375

Izmailovo Country Estate
Country residence of Russian tsars in the 17th and 18th centuries. The estate is located on the unique man-made island that was created at the behest of the tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, the father of Peter the Great. In 17th-18th centuries it was a summer residence of the tsar family where in 1666 Aleksey Mikhailovich organised an agricultural paradise with arable farming, bee- and poultry-keeping and other rural pleasures. Tsar's famous gardens became the prototype for future botanic gardens in Russia. The museum "Izmailovo and Russian Tsars" holds historical and dramatized excursions. The Mostovaya (Bridge) Tower, built in 1670, served as the main entrance to the Izmailovo estate and was part of an arched stone bridge across the Serebryany (Silver) Pond. The Tower's composition is typical of the middle-age architectural style of the second half of the 17th century and similar to some of the Moscow Kremlin towers. To get to the estate, take the metro to the station Partizanskaya, then take trolleybus 22 to the stop "Glavnaya Alleya".
Open: Exhibitions: Apr-Sep: Tue–Fri, Sun: 10:00 - 08:00, Sat: 11:00 - 19:00; Oct-Mar: Tue–Sun: 10:00 - 18:00. Mon – day off.
Address: Gorodok imeni Baumana, 1a
Metro: Partizanskaya
Tel.: +7 499 165-1236 / 0972, +7 499 782-8917/21
Kolomenskoye Open-Air Art Museum and Nature Preserve
The Kolomenskoye estate was once the royal summer residence of the Grand Princes of Moscow Vasili III and Ivan IV, and was turned into a museum and nature preserve in 1923. While the wooden summer palace was pulled down under Catherine II after it fell into disrepair, some of the churches built in the 16th and 17th centuries remain intact and serve as monuments to important stages in development of Russian church architecture. Among them are the Church of the Ascension (1532) and the Church of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan (1644-1670). Several examples of Russian wooden architecture have been moved to Kolomenskoye and are also displayed in the park, including the wooden house of Peter the Great dating back to 1702. The 390-hectare park is also famed for its alley of ancient oaks and linden trees - some purportedly more than 200 years old. It is ideal for family outings and picnics. Kolomenskoe, a small calm green island in the boiling ocean of the big city, has a very long history. The first known reference to Kolomenskoe village was found in the will-chart Moscow Grand Prince Ivan Kalita, dated 1339. But, according to archaeological evidence, the first settlement here was founded already 2.5 thousand years ago: it was so-called "Dyakovo Gorodische", the oldest settlement found on the territory of modern Moscow. Nowadays Kolomenskoe is included in the UNESCO List of World's Cultural and Natural Heritage. Among the other historical monuments in Kolomenskoe are the bell-tower of St. George (16th century), the Falcon Tower (1627) and Peter the Great's cabin (1702), brought here from Arkhangelsk. Some of the architectural monuments house the museum's expositions, changed from time to time. Various musical performances and festivals are arranged for numerous guests of Kolomenskoe. To get to the estate, take the metro to the station Kolomenskaya, then take a 10 minute walk along Prospekt Andropova.
Open: 24/7
Exhibitions: Apr-Sep: Tue–Fri, Sun: 10:00 - 08:00, Sat: 11:00 - 19:00; Oct-Mar: Tue–Sun: 10:00 - 18:00. Mon – day off.
Address: Prospekt Andropova, 39
Metro: Kolomenskaya
Tel: +7 499 782-8917/21
Excursions: +7 499 615-2768/71
Kuskovo Estate and Ceramics Museum
Entering the Kuskovo estate gates, you find yourself in a different dimension. It feels like you have come into the 18th century by a time machine. Kuskovo occupies the territory of about 32 hectares. Towards the 1750s, following new trends in lifestyle, Count Petr Sheremetev, an important member of nobility at the Russian Imperial Court, turned his family estate (dating from the 16th century) into a residence, or "chateau de plaisir", which amazed his contemporaries by its splendour. Up to 25,000 guests would flock here to lavish celebrations. Yet, Count Sheremetev had the mansion built as a recreational summer residence, as well as a focus for different art forms appreciated by connoisseurs. Exhibits displayed here form a large part of his vast collection of fine and applied art. Nowadays the museum stock counts some 34,000 items, including a huge collection of ceramics and glass from different countries, from antiquity up to the present day. Architectural composition of the estate unites the Palace itself, three pleasure pavilions in the shapes of a Dutch house, an Italian villa, a Chinese pagoda and some other buildings. Baroque gardens and park landscape are geometrically laid out in the English style near the Large Pond. The Neo-Classical style Palace is one of the best parts of the estate preserved till now. The dancing hall is the largest and most beautiful parlor in the palace. The whole interior looks very festive due to the white and gild decorations of the walls, mosaic parquet and crystal chandeliers. To get to the estate, take the metro to the station Ryazansky Prospekt, then take bus 133, 208 or minibus 157 to the stop "Muzei Kuskovo".
Open: 10:00 - 20:00
Exhibitions: 10:00 - 18:00
Address: Yunosti ul., 2
Metro: Ryazansky Prospekt
Tel: +7 (495) 370-0160, 375-3131
This estate traces its history from 1702, when Peter the Great presented this land to his favourite Grigory Stroganov. Muscovites call Kuzminki Estate "the Russian Versal"; this wonderful architectural ensemble was created by celebrated architects Matvey Kozakov, Vasily Bazhenov and the Gilyardi family. Church of the Vlakhernskaya Virgin is an outstanding architectural masterpiece. Famous Peter Klodt and Ivan Vitali decorated the estate with their sculptures. In late 18th - early 19th centuries some landscape modifications took place: a "Star" park, English garden and a Chinese pond were laid out. The museum's exposition shows us life of the Russian nobility of the 19th century. In winter you can ride a dog team here or take part in the traditional Russian amusements; in summer you can make a bike-excursion about the estate or sail over the Kuzminki ponds and watch splendid flowerbeds planted for the flower festival. To get to the estate, take the metro to the station Kuzminki, once out of the metro take a 7-8 minute walk to reach the estate.
Open: 24/7, museum: 10:00 - 18:00
Address: Topolevaya alleya, 6
Metro: Kuzminki
Tel: +7 495 377-9457, +7 495 372-6066, +7 495 657-6585
Lefortovo park is connected with the history of a separate district in Moscow counting some 300 years. At first this area in the outskirts of Moscow on the bank of the Yauza River was called Nemetskaya Sloboda (German settlement). This district was created by Ivan the Terrible especially for foreigners standing on Russian service, so that they could keep their habits of living. Time went by; New Sloboda appeared in this area under Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great. Later on, this district beyond the Yauza River was named in the memory of Franz Lefort, a Swiss of French origin, close friend and fellow-champion of Peter the Great. The history of Lefortovo is also connected with the name of Yakov Bruce, the first Freemason in Russia and (as the legend tells) the offspring of Druids. In the 18th century Lefortovo was the residence of Russian Emperors and Empresses. Later Lefortovo became the base of some elite troops of the Russian army and a military school; military hospital was also built in this district. To get to the estate, take the metro to the station Baumanskaya, then take tram 37, 50 to the stop "Lefortovsky Most".
Open: 24/7
Exhibitions: Apr-Sep: Tue–Fri, Sun: 10:00 - 08:00, Sat: 11:00 - 19:00; Oct-Mar: Tue–Sun: 10:00 - 18:00. Monday – day off.
Address: Krasnokazarmennaya ul., 3
Metro: Baumanskaya
Lublino Estate and Park
This lovely park and palace are mysteriously little-known by even native-born Muscovites. In the 17th century the lands had been a hunting park owned by the infamous Godunov family. By the end of the 18th century ownership had passed through the Razumovskys to the Durasovs, who built the present palace in the first decade of the 19th century. You can take a picnic and walk about the banks of the extensive Lublino Lake which forms the centre of the semi-landscaped park. Although Lublino's territory is adjacent to Kuzminki, it's a different estate with a different history, and is most easily accessed from a different metro station: Volzhkskaya. There is an extensive series of light classical concerts on weekend afternoons in summer, and even (free) outdoor performances of complete operas. To get to the estate, take the metro to the station Volzhskaya, once out of the metro, take a 5 minute walk to reach the estate.
Open: 09:00-18:00 (park); 10:00-17:00 (palace)
Metro: Volzhskaya
Tel: +7 495 350-1553, +7 499 722-7189, +7 499 614-2083
Ostankino Estate Museum and Park (closed for restoration)
Ostankino was mentioned for the first time in the 16th century, but the oldest preserved building, the Church of Trinity, is dated 17th century. This beautiful palace belonged to Count Sheremetyev and is located on the shore of a lake right near the Botanical Garden and the VVTs Exhibition center. In the estate one of the first theatres in Russia was organised; all the actors here were serfs. This theatre still has one of the best acoustics in Moscow; moreover, it is the only preserved theatre of the 18th century. A considerable part of the Ostankinsky Park is occupied by the main Botanic Garden of the Russian Academy of Sciences with more than 2000 kinds of roses, 400 kinds of lilac, plenty of exotic plants, a 300-year-old linden alley and three ponds. The palace is not always open to visitors and is usually closed in winter months. Concerts in summer months. To get to the estate, take the metro to the station VDNKh, then take tram 17, 11 to the stop "Ostankino" or trolleybus 37 to the stop "Ulitsa Akademika Koroleva".
Open: 11:00 - 19:00 (museum in summer)
Address: 1aya Ostankinskaya ul., 5
Metro: VDNKh
Tel: + 7 495 602-1852
Tsaritsyno Museum and Nature Preserve
The name of this estate and park comes from the Russian word "tsar" and is home to the romantic ruins of the unfinished palace that Ekaterina II (Catherine the Great) ordered in 1775. The architect fell out of grace with Ekaterina and the incomplete project slowly fell apart. Its trees overlook the waters of the Upper Tsaritsyno pond, which together with the Shipilovsky and Borisovsky ponds form the largest cascade of ponds in Moscow. Tsaritsyno is the largest museum-reserve and historical and cultural monument of the federal level in Moscow, occupying over 700 hectares. A tremendously rich complex of architectural objects is gathered here - the historic village sites, plowed fields, barrows dated from the VI thousand years B.C. to the beginning of the XII century. To get to the estate, take the metro to the station Tsarityno, once out of the metro take a 5 minute walk to reach the estate.
Open: 06:00-24:00
Museum: Tue–Fri: 09:30-18:00, Sat: 09:30-20:00, Sun: 09:30-19:00. Mon - day off. The entrance from 10:00.
Address: Dolskaya ul., 1
Metro: Tsarityno
Tel: +7 495 322-4433
Excursions: +7 495 322-4433 # 1142
80.Moscow Phone Directory :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Moscow Phone Directory
An updated Moscow Phone Directory is coming soon, and as a special offer our users can register their companies and organizations for FREE until the end of this month. Send your details in to
81.Establishing a Business in Russia  
Need help in establishing your business in Russia?
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4. You know ahead of time how much it will cost to start your business – no unexpected expenses. And no costly delays. You choose the level of support with a fixed price – and get our guarantee of the results you want.
5. You get just what you need. Chose the level of support that’s right for you and your company. If you want something extra – VISTA can add on services to the basic packages.
VISTA Foreign Business Support provides consulting, law and accounting services for organizations and individuals.
Phone: +7 095 933 7822, Fax: +7 095 933 7823
82.The Russian Mind-Set::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
The Russian Mind-Set
For most Russians, transitioning into new democracy with its associated freedoms has not been an easy task, and for many particularly members of the older generations, the change was not a welcome one. The failure of communism brought with it freedom that many were not prepared to exercise. Not all have welcomed the substantial restructuring of the social order that followed the implosion of the USSR - for mainly apolitical reasons (worsening of conditions for pensioners, state health care patients, educational institutions, cultural organizations, etc).
Russian Personality
Because the Russian personality has so many faces, it is difficult to define. Defeated by harsh weather, a tumultuous history and the general malaise that ensued, Russians seem to value the status quo and are reluctant to change. Security, stability, and conservatism were always held in high regard; but at the same time you will see new phenomena such as the absence of concern about the future, free spending and easy and quick adaptation of foreign practices in the younger generations in larger cities. Many foreigners find the Russian people an enigma - surprisingly nostalgic about their past yet cautiously optimistic about the future - patient but curious about the possibilities of freedom.
As some things in Russia are almost impossible to explain, there is a very good saying that you will hear over and over again as first response to your questions: "Rossiyu umom ne ponyat" which can be translated as "Russia cannot be understood with your mind" (a quotation from the poet Tyutchev).
Russians are strong people, able to endure hardship and extreme climate with submission and patience. Generally, Russians are very well educated and have a sound knowledge of literature, history and politics. The majority of the country's population lives in European Russia (the part of Russia lying west of the border with Siberia) with the largest population centers being Moscow and St. Petersburg. Most families have no more than one or two children, who are the center of the family focus.
The Russian people have traditionally been molded and directed from cradle to grave, creating individuals who assumed little responsibility for themselves. They are slowly learning how to take charge of their own lives, but the chasm between the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick and the skilled and the unskilled continues to widen.
Traditional Russian values and core beliefs include: love of children, respect for the old, sense of humour, strong people-orientation, importance of friendship, generosity, pride, patriotism, love of literature and arts, nostalgia, self-sacrifice, apathy, conservatism, aversion to change, caution, collectivism, pessimism and cynicism.
There is widely accepted notion in Russia that there is a "soul" that makes Russians different - a sort of sadness born of oppression that demands a different social order. Whether or not this proud melancholia is fact or fiction is arguable, but the belief is almost universally held with great pride. Acres of print have been devoted to the topic, with no very firm conclusions.
Russians love and value going to the theatre, opera, ballet and concerts. The arts are avidly devoured by all sections of society - the idea that plays or classical music could be "difficult" or unpopular is rarely encountered. They also enjoy attending readings of literature and poetry. Russians love reading everything from classical literature to translations of contemporary foreign authors. They read on the metro, while they wait, and at home. You will find that your Russian friends can easily recite entire poems or passages from their favourite books. They generally have a very good knowledge of world history, geography and the arts, and this is true regardless of the person's education or occupation.
Behaviours You May Find Puzzling
There are some behaviour patterns you may find very different from those you are used to. Some things may shock you initially, but they can usually be explained through Russia's history and your Russian friends will make efforts to help you understand why things are done the way they are. Always remember that what you consider normal behaviour may seem strange to your Russian friends.
Two things that newly arrived expatriates often find particularly troubling are the fact that Russians can seem very rude and that they rarely smile in public. Rudeness in public situations is still common. You may encounter it at supermarkets, at the post office, in public transport. Please do not let this discourage you and always remember that this is nothing personal.
Smiling at strangers is a rarity in Russia. 70 years of history taught people not to trust anybody and to guard their own territory. Just recall the famous Soviet poster "Ne Boltai" (Do not Chatter) and you will understand the roots of not smiling at unfamiliar persons. There is also an inherited notion from "village Russia" that people who smile for no reason must be simpletons. However, while people tend to be introvert or aggressive on the outside, you will find that they are extremely kind and helpful if you get beyond their first suspicion. Keep going to the same supermarket, the same bank and the same dry cleaners over and over again, keep smiling and do say "hello" and "goodbye" every time you arrive and leave - people will eventually start remembering you and most will start smile back. They are often not used to people being polite and nice to them and your efforts will be appreciated. It may just take some time, so don't give up.
Russians seem to have very different concept of what it means to stand in a line. They tend to be pushy while getting on public transport and in the metro you will find that people try to get on while others are still trying to get off. The same applies to lines at meat and cheese counters in supermarkets, where it can be difficult to figure out where the line starts and who is there first. When you go to pay utility bills at a Russian bank, you may find that when it is almost your turn one or two people show up who had "reserved" a place in the line and then took care of something else at another counter or just sit down while waiting for their turn. It is common practice to reserve a place in a line simply by telling the person in front of you "you are behind them" ("ya budu za vami"). This practice dated back to Soviet times when lines for just about everything were so long that it was impossible to get something done if you just occupied one single line.
Houses entrances, rest rooms and some other public areas may not be well cared for. You may, for example, see a beautiful apartment in a building with a dilapidated entrance and filthy staircase. In Soviet times, this was not the case: the streets and public areas were clean and littering was basically unheard of. Today people do not seem to care for anything that happens outside of the limits of their apartments. However, things are slowly starting to improve.
Drivers in Moscow are generally very aggressive, and you may find this pretty daunting if you come from a country where drivers are polite and abide by the rules. There seems a comprehensive spirit involved in driving - everybody wants to be the first one to take off from a red light.
Russians love to comment and give advice. Don't be surprised to get unsolicited advice on how to dress your children in winter or on the necessity of wearing a hat in cold winter.
People - both men and women - still drink beer in pubic. While this is not publicly frowned upon, the government is trying to change this habit, but so far the efforts have not led to any noticeable results. Restriction of shopping hours for alcohol was never previously known in Russia, but sterner measures have been introduced from 2009 onwards, mostly by individual cities - the results vary from strict (St. Petersburg, 23:00 total ban) via haphazard (Moscow region) to utterly invisible (most of the rest of the country).
While Russians devote considerable time and cost to their own personal wardrobe and grooming, they are relatively unjudgemental about others - figuring that a person' soul is the most important, and taking a very liberal line on allowing for differing customs elsewhere. An odd Soviet throwback, however, is a private habit of awarding unmentioned merit-marks to the quality and shine of the shoes other people wear. You can make a good first impression with very little effort in this field. Sports footwear is poorly regarded in general, and is often cited (by doormen) as fair reason to deny entrance to fashionable clubs or restaurants.
While Russians can be secretive when dealing with foreigners, they can also be very curious. You may find yourself in situations when people just met ask you how much money you make. In the vast majority of cases there is absolutely no criminal interest behind these questions, but you may still not want to divulge too much personal information about your family and yourself unless you know your conversation partner very well. Very often such questions arise from "fellow professionals" who are keen to know how their profession might be valued abroad.
When you come to a Russian home you will most certainly be offered tea or coffee along with something to eat. If you arrive around lunch and dinner time, you may be invited to join the family for the meal. When inviting Russian friends over your house for drinks make sure you have some good food to offer - drinks accompanied by cheese and grapes just don't do.
Concepts of Space and Personal Space
On the one hand, Russians live in the world's largest country and think big in many ways. They tend to make big plans, even if they know that they will never be able to implement them. At the same time, they usually stand very close to each other in conversation or when standing in line. This may be a remnant from the Soviet past when people had to be very careful about what they said and always made sure that no one else was listening. Standing close to each other allows you to speak more quietly and to feel that others aren't able to hear what you are talking about. When someone has something very important to tell you and you are speaking to that person over the phone, you may still hear them say that "this is not a phone conversation", meaning that they prefer to tell you in person because they are still afraid of someone else may be listening. The reason why people stand close to each other in lines is more difficult to explain. It might have something to do with a feeling of getting to the front of the line sooner as there is less distance to the "target". Touching, hugging, and kissing friends and close acquaintance is common. You may find this uncomfortable if you come from a no- or little- contact culture.
As people still pay very little money for electricity and hot water, these resources are literally wasted. Russians will do the dishes under running hot water instead of letting them soak in the sink. Nobody will complain if you take a hot shower for half an hour or a hot bath twice a day. At the same time that electricity is still very cheap, Russians seem to prefer dim lighting. You will notice this in the metro, on the streets, in staircase, and even in people's homes where the lighting could often be a lot brighter. Street lights are not very bright, and often entire yards have no lighting for weeks on end.
These days light bulbs in public areas of apartment buildings usually have to be replaced by residents, who are often hesitant about replacing something that is not for their own use exclusively. If you want the housing department or your neighbours to replace the broken light bulbs, you may be in for a very long (and dark) wait. If you encounter such a problem in your apartment building, just buy some light bulbs and replace the broken ones - Russia has no laws (yet) on expensive energy-saving bulbs, and regular clear-glass bulbs cost just pennies. You may win the friendship or respect of your neighbours if you occasionally mop the landing area between the lift and your door.
Dacha is a term that refers to a summerhouse and can stand for pretty much everything from a small wooden shack without running water, gas or electricity to a lavish multi-story house in the countryside. While not everyone has a dacha, most people have relatives, neighbours or friends who do, and everyone who can normally jump at the opportunity to leave the city on weekends and escape to cleaner air and nature. Dachas are usually big projects that require the involvement of the entire family. Most dachas are not used in winter, but as soon as the last snow has gone people set out to repair and prepare their dachas for the coming summer. The majority of people who have even a small plot of land still plant vegetables and herbs at their dacha and many also have apple trees and berries. These of course require constant maintenance all the way to late autumn when the plots and trees have to be prepared for the coming winter. In short, a dacha is often not a place to relax and lie in the sun but rather a second full-time job.
Shashlyki (barbecues) are a very popular activity on summer weekends when Russians often invite friends to their dacha for a barbecue.
Over the centuries, the Russian banya (bath house) has served people not only as a place where they could clean themselves, but also as a place for restoring health. It is believed that by visiting the banya many health problems can be cured. Among other positive effects, the steam in the banya helps expel fat from the body, restores the tonus of blood vessels and clean pores.
The difference between the Russian banya and the Finnish sauna lies in the kind of steam. The steam in the Russian banya is humid, and in order to reach the best effect, hot water is poured onto hot stones. The temperature inside a Russian banya can reach 60°C (140°F). The steam in a Finnish sauna, on the other hand, is dry, and the temperature can reach up to 100°C (212°F). After having spent some time in the steam room, banya visitors will jump into a pool with gold water as a kind of contrast treatment.
A very important banya attribute is the "venik" (a kind of broom made from dried birch, oak or fir branches and leaves), which banya visitors beach each other with. Apart from a positive effect on health, the banya also is a place where friends get together to relax. While at the banya, Russians like to drink beer, which is often accompanied by "vobla" - a kind of dried fish. Sometimes people have too much fun at the banya - a great example of this is provided in the very funny and highly recommended Soviet comedy "The Irony of Fate".
Mushroom Collecting
It is a tradition dating back to ancient times. Russia has a lot of forest areas where different kinds of mushrooms grow in abundance. While mushrooms have always been an important component of the national diet, they have also become a substitute for meat during the Orthodox Christian Lent. Over 200 kinds of edible mushrooms grow in Russia. Apart from protein and fats, mushrooms also contain a number of minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc. However, there are also about 25 poisonous types of mushrooms in Russia, so unless you are very experienced you should never collect and consume mushrooms without consulting with an expert in this field. You can tell that mushroom season has arrived when you see them being sold outside metro stations. While you should never collect and consume mushrooms that grow in Moscow or within a 30 km radius of the city, the Moscow region is considered relatively safe.
A mushroom collecting trip usually involves a long car or train ride to ecologically clean area outside Moscow. If you want to get there before others do, you have to leave home in the wee hours of morning. Remember that forest areas are very popular with mosquitoes so make sure you bring sufficient amounts of mosquito repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts. The most common kind of edible mushrooms are chanterelle, oyster mushrooms, porcini and yellow boletus. A mushroom-hunting trip is often an excuse for a fun trip to the country, and if you fail to find any you can always quietly buy some from sellers at the roadside, and claim you found them yourself. Be ready to cook them into dishes or freeze them when you get home - they won't keep more than a day without spoiling. The same trip can also be a good chance to pick some forest wild berries - blackberries, redcurrants, and many others flourish within just an hour of the city limits.
Cross-Country Skiing
It is a very popular winter activity that often the whole family participates in. Children learn this sport at school from an early age. You can engage in cross-country skiing in any of Moscow's larger parks.
While you will see people fishing in the Moskva River, fishing is not recommended in Moscow due to highly polluted rivers and ponds. You can however go fishing at any of the larger water reservoirs river parts outside of town.
Grandchildren are a very popular activity for any grandmother (and grandfather). It is very common in Russia for grandparents to take care of their grandchildren while their parents are at work. They will take the children for walks, take them to the playground, to/from kindergarten or school, will cook them lunch, and often even supervise their homework assignments. Many grandchildren spend the entire summer at their grandparents' dacha, giving the parents some time for themselves. While this may seem very convenient, it sometimes results in problems as parents and grandparents often have very different ideas on how to best raise a child. Russians traditionally lived in extended families in one big house until very recently, and many of the grandparents involved will have been raised in that way.
Ice Swimming
It is a less common, but nevertheless very interesting pastime. An extreme way of keeping fit, the ice swimmers (called "morzhi" - walruses in Russian) are very proud of their "sport" and consider it a way of life. Even babies and toddlers are subjected to short immersion in ice cold water to make them strong, and may people in their 70s and 80s still regularly engage in this invigorating activity on a regular basis. The roots of ice swimming date back to pre-revolutionary times and have links to the Russian Orthodox Church as a way of cleaning sin. Every winter during religious festivals, worshippers would submerge themselves in icy waters to erase all sins from their bodies. For contemporary "morzhi", however, ice swimming is part of everyday life rather than a religious practice. When ice forms on lakes and rivers, these enthusiastic sportsmen will cut swimming holes in the ice that are carefully maintained so that bathing is possible throughout the winter. Each session is very short but a challenging experience for the uninitiated. If you want to try ice swimming, please consult with your doctor before jumping into the icy water. While this is a stimulating and energizing activity, it can easily send your body into spasms and causes severe joint ache.
New Russians: Who are They?
As a result of the changes this country has undergone since the early 1990s, a class of so-called "new Russians" has developed. These people acquired a lot of wealth very quickly (whether legally or not is another question) and have become somewhat conspicuous consumers. Very western in their dress and manner, these new captains of Russian commerce are demanding and getting the attention of others who are not in the same position. People who do not belong to this circle of the chosen few usually (and understandably) do not approve of their flamboyance.
These are very influential people purchasing prime property in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, France, and many other countries along with soccer clubs and other sports teams. If they don't own an airplane, they will fly first class. They go on dream vacations while their children attend top European private schools and universities. The best customers of Moscow's five-star hotels are Russians - not foreign businessmen.
While many wealthy people abroad try not to show off their wealth in public, rich Russians still like to show what they have and can afford - a habit that isn't always advantageous for them. You will see an amazing number of very expensive foreign cars in Moscow's streets and you may be stunned at the suburban houses these people build - complete with swimming pools, tennis courts, bodyguards and housing for staff. While the gap between rich and poor in Russia is getting wider all the time, recent years have seen the development of a small middle class. Its members are characterized by a good education, relatively well-paying jobs and entrepreneurial spirit.
With all it luxurious new VIP residential buildings, expensive stores and restaurants, you may be under the impression that people in Moscow are quite well off. In reality this is not the case. While the country's elite tends to settle in Moscow and there are a lot of rich people living here, the majority of Muscovites (and those in the rest of Russia) are struggling very hard just to feed and clothe themselves and their families. And just as New York isn't the USA, Moscow isn't Russia. If you want to see what the real Russia is like, you have to travel to the provinces and villages outside of Moscow, in Siberia and the Far East - although these regions have their own "new rich" too.
General Attitudes
The mindset of the younger Russian generation is not as much pro-anything, as it is anti-communist. Difficult times and general uncertainty are accompanied by the feeling that democracy is better. This does not mean that Russians are not complaining. While they are critical of the slow pace reform and of the new leaders, they are nonetheless loyal and optimistic about the future of their country.
Making the transition from a society completely dependent upon the state to one in which the individual shares responsibility has been a very difficult and traumatic process for Russia and her people, and the Russians don't yet seem to have a clear picture of their selves. The demise of communism has hugely affected life in Russia, and the sometimes-halting democracy that has taken its place is still developing. Under communist rule, the State was responsible for everything - even for piffling things. Today people must make decisions and take responsibility for them - not an easy task for those who have been raised to follow, not to lead.
Attitudes in the Workplace
The older generation of Russians - although for the most part well-educated, hard-working and disciplined - is a product of the communist system in which workers were not rewarded for personal incentives nor punished for being non-productive. Not having been raised to "get ahead" and to amass personal fortunes, they may respect these traits in foreigners but generally abhor them in their Russian colleagues. You may hear the phrase "initiative is punishable" from members of the older generations and it can be difficult to convince them that personal initiative and doing your own thinking is not only welcomed, but is a necessity in the new Russia.
The attitudes of the younger generations are for most part, very different. Achievements in the workplace are highly regarded. You will find many highly trained young Russians who, on top of having an excellent education, speak fluent English and/or other foreign languages. Many choose to further their education and qualifications voluntarily at evening classes at their own expense.
Attitudes toward Foreigners
Russians generally respect and admire the business expertise and technology skills and tools of European, North American and Asian companies and are interested in doing business with them.
In some quarters Russians tend to blame Western influence for the hard times brought about by reform. The economic disparity between foreigners and themselves may also raise the hurdle of understanding. Russians have historically feared and distrusted foreigners, but today's foreign community in Moscow lives in relative harmony with the locals. Some Russians may respect their presence, but most appreciate the efforts of foreigners to modernize the local economy.
While Russians are well aware of the fact that things in Russia aren't perfect, they do not appreciate it when foreigners criticize their country, or boast excessively about the alleged superiority of their homelands. Very often questions about how things are managed overseas will actually be a delicate appeal for some positive comments about how things are by comparison in Russia - a tactful reply, without toadying, will be appreciated. It is useful to have some pre-prepared compliments about some neutral topics - the affordability and frequency of public transport, the low cost of public amenities, etc.
Attitudes towards Women
The communists maintained the equal status of men and women in the classless society, and many women had (and still have) the dual responsibility of adding to family income through a full-time job and of caring (shopping, cooking, cleaning) for the family. In the workplace opportunities for women have been slow to surface. While women in Russia have always had the opportunity to pursue higher education and many have at least one degree, they do not typically fill leadership positions yet.
Foreigners working in Russia often find that Russian women who have reached managerial positions are more serious, harder working and more creative than their male counterparts. However, radical changes must occur for the Russian mentality to accept women in positions superior to men. The male network in business is unwilling to allow women to progress.
Foreign businesswomen might encounter some resistance. Conservative dress and demeanour and a serious attitude will be helpful in dealing with Russian men, keeping a certain distance rather than being too friendly is advisable. It is also best to ignore the inequality between the sexes that exists in Russia, instead behaving as if business were transacted in the west.
Men are still the "dominant" gender in Russia and many Russians are uncomfortable with very strong women. A woman who stays aloof will be respected, whereas overly friendly behaviour may be misinterpreted.
Attitudes towards Human Rights
Although the 1993 Constitution guarantees basic human rights, the progress toward internationally-recognized human rights for all citizens is by far not yet complete. Large gains have been made on the domestic side, but abuses have been reported within the military and police forces. Conditions in Russia detention facilities are far below acceptable standards. While reforms are ongoing, the process is slow.
Attitudes toward the Disabled
Moscow and Russia on the whole is not a great place for physically disabled or mentally challenged children and adults. If you have a child with a severe physical or mental disability, you should think twice before moving to Moscow.
Generally attitudes toward disabled people in Russia aren't very good. As there aren't many opportunities for the disabled, they usually stay at home. You will, therefore, hardly ever encounter disabled people on the streets. It is not uncommon to encounter disabled people begging on public transport - particularly military veterans. You may want to prioritise generosity over any feelings of "patronizing" them - they get little other help in their lives.
State assistance to people with disabled family members is very limited. Consequently, a large proportion of women who give birth to a disabled child decide to give it up right after the child is born. These children are then condemned to a sad existence in state-run orphanages and will receive little to no physical or mental development support.
Educational opportunities for disabled children and adults are extremely limited. Even the private foreign schools in Moscow will only accept children with very minor disabilities. It is almost impossible to get around Moscow physically in a wheelchair as building entrances; sidewalks and public transportation are mostly not wheelchair-friendly.
Russian Names and Titles
Russian names have three parts: a first name (forename), a so-called "patronymic" middle name, and a surname. The "patronymic" derives from the father's name followed by the suffixes. These are "evich" or "ovich" for a son (meaning son of) or "evna" or "ovna" for a daughter (meaning daughter of). Example: A woman's full name might be Tatiana Ivanovna Smirnova. This means that her father's first name was Ivan. Her brothers' name could be Sergey Ivanovich Smirnov. Patronymics refer strictly to the child's biological father, and would not change on the mother's remarriage, on adoption, etc. (In the old Russian villages, where perhaps just 2-3 families and their descendants made up the whole village (the law forbade peasants to leave their owner's employ or land - so people didn't travel) a person's surname was almost immaterial - it was more useful to say you were "Pavel, Ivan's son", or "Irina, Ilya's daughter" by way of introduction.)
An "a" is added to the end of most (but not all) surnames of Russian females.
It is common and considered polite to address people you do not know very well and/or that are older than you by their first name and patronymic. Russians rarely refer to each other by their first and last names, although some - especially the younger generation - will call each other by their last names. You might hear children shout something like "Hey Smirnova" or "Hey Smirnov". If you are trying to find someone and only know that person's first and last name, you can ask for "Gospozha Tatiana Smirnova" (Mrs. Tatiana Smirnova) or "Gospodin Sergey Smirnov" (Mr. Sergey Smirnov).
A Russian woman usually adopts her husband's last name after marriage, but there are exceptions.
Common female names are Anna (Anya), Ekaterina (Katya), Elena (Lena), Irina (Ira), Yulia (Yulya), Maria (Masha), Natalia (Natasha), Olga (Olya), Svetlana (Sveta), Tatiana (Tanya), etc. Names of females are often altered even further, especially in terms of endearment between close friends. Thus Masha can turn into Mashenka, Lena into Lenochka, and Anya into Anyuta. Lyuba can become Lyubochka, and Yulia is often called Yulka or Yulechka. Coining these "pet-name" versions is an art in itself, and the mutual freedom to use them is considered part of the friendship bonding process. You may find your own (foreign) name converted to a nickname version - don't be offended, it is a sign of warm friendship.
Common male names are Alexander (Sasha, Shura, Sanya), Dmitry (Dima), Eugeny (Zhenya), Ivan (Vanya), Mikhail (Misha), Nikolai (Kolya), Sergey (Seryozha), Victor (Vitya), Vladimir (Volodya, Vova), etc. Often the names in parentheses are shortened even further, Seryozha can turn into Seryozh or Seryoga, Mikhail into Mish or Misha.
A modern friendly jokey way of referring to friends (rather than merely "colleagues") at work (but not superiors!) is to employ 19th century habit of using a shortened version of their patronymic - the way 19th century employers would talk to their servants. Thus Nikolai Ivanovich might be "Ivanych" to his work chums, and "Elena Ivanovna" might be "Ivanovna". Wait until you are proficient in Russian before using this in practice. If you can pull it off in practice, it will win you friends. Obviously it has to be done with a sense of fun - or it would cause offence.
The shortened names given in parentheses are commonly used, but you should never use them without asking permission. Not every Elizaveta wants to be called Lisa and not every Vladimir likes being addressed as Vova - it would be considered as "excessive familiarity". Beware of using them to people "lower in the pecking order" than yourself - you might end up patronizing people instead of befriending them as you hoped.
The shortened names Sasha and Zhenya are used for both females and males.
Another important thing to remember is that the Russian language - much like French and German - has two separate pronouns for the second person singular, differing in degrees of politeness. Technically, there are two words for the second person singular: "ty", which is used in the same sense as the French "tu" and the German "du"; and "Vy". Note that this word starts with a capital letter, which is similar to the French "Vous" and the German "Sie". Except for children you should never address anybody with the personal "ty" without asking for their permission. The word for the second person plural pronoun is also "vy" but it is spelled with a small letter.
The best way to avoid unpleasant situation is to ask individuals how they would like to be addressed. If you would like to address someone as "ty" instead of "Vy", you should ask "Mozhno na ty?" ("Can I call you "you"?")
The most common form of address in today's international office environment is first names in combination with the formal "Vy"; colleagues occupying the same rank may also use the personal "ty".
Russian Customs, Etiquette, and Popular Superstitions
Even if you are not planning to be in Russia for long, you should make every effort to learn at least a few basic words and phrases in Russian. You colleagues, neighbours, friends, and others will be impressed and the gesture will be highly appreciated. Russians generally consider their language to be a very difficult one for foreigners to learn. With the exception of your Russian teacher, they will not expect you to become fluent in Russian, but they will be amazed if you are able to carry on a simple conversation a few months after your arrival.
Even if you fail to learn much Russian, learning the alphabet (there are only 31 letters plus two silent symbols) will make a quantum improvement in your ability to move around independently. Russian is laden with imported words from other languages - once you can decode the letters, these words ("bar", "restoran", "stadion", "musey") appear to you, as if by magic.
Never shake hands with or kiss someone over the threshold of the doorstep or you will quarrel with this person (an old superstition).
Take off your gloves when shaking hands.
Returning home if you forgot something brings back luck. If it happens that you must return for something, looking in a mirror before leaving again dispels the "bad luck".
Before leaving the house on a trip, it is customary to sit down on one's suitcase for a minute or so to reflect on the trip (silently, for 4-5 seconds) and to recall whether you have forgotten anything.
It you are not married, never sit down at the corner of a square table. If you do, you will not get married for seven years.
Spitting three times over your left shoulder prevents bad luck. (You my hear Russians say "tfu-tfu-tfu" - a "spitting" incantation against bad luck.) So does knocking on wood.
Do not put your hands in your pockets.
Do not sit with your legs wide apart.
Do not cross your legs with the ankle on the knee or put your feet on the table. It is considered impolite to show others the soles of your shoes.
Whistling is regarded as a sure way to guarantee that you will soon part with all your money.
Never light a cigarette from a candle. This is also said to bring bad luck.
Never pour wine backhanded. It is impolite and also signifies that you will "pour" your money away.
If you spit salt on the table, you will be plagued by bad luck unless you throw three pinches of salt over your left shoulder immediately.
Always bring a gift for the hostess if invited into a Russian home. A box of candy and/or flowers are traditional gifts for the hostess, as is a bottle of good wine, cognac or vodka for the host. Arriving "with empty hands" is considered the poorest manners.
Never give an even number of flowers to someone - even numbers are for funerals only!
When entering a Russian home, offer to take off your shoes. In most cases your host will provide you with slippers (called "tapochki" in Russian).
Be prepared to accept smoking.
Be prepared to accept all food and alcohol when visiting friends. Refusing a drink or toast is a serious breach of etiquette. An open bottle often has to be finished. However, Russians will understand if you do not drink at all (e.g. for health reasons or because of religious beliefs, or because you have to drive later).
Be prepared to give toasts at dinners and presentations. Do not say "Na Zdoroviye" ("To your health" - this is actually a toast only in Poland) - the correct form is "Vashe Zdoroviye" ("Your health"). Russian toasts can be very long and elaborate. For birthdays, weddings and other important events, friends and colleagues often write poems for the person they wish to congratulate. You don't have to do that of course, but it helps to be prepared to at least say a few sentences. While the toast is being sad, do not continue eating or drinking. You are expected to listen, regardless of the length of the speech. An easy and amusing toast a foreigner can make is that the host's fame has spread abroad, and they are now known in your country too. Chinking glasses with everyone else (or as far as you can reach) is considered usual.
At birthday parties, by tradition, all the toasts are to some aspect of the birthday boy/girl - try to think of some witty compliments. There may often be a toast to their parents, "who gave him/her to us" - even if they aren't present. If one or other of the parents is no longer alive, you don't chink glasses for this toast.
If you plan on visiting a Russian Orthodox Church, dress conservatively (no shirt skirts or shorts). Women must cover their hair before entering the church, so bring a headscarf. Men, on the other hand, must remove headwear (hats, caps). Some extremely severe monasteries may insist on women donning a wraparound long skirt - if so, these will be provided on free loan at the gateway entrance, and using them is obligatory. Better to wait outside if you don't wish to respect their dress code requirements.
On public transportation, younger men and women should give up their seat to mothers with small children, pregnant women and elderly people. Certain seats may be marked for the use of these categories of people anyhow.
Men should offer to carry parcels and heavy bags for women they accompanying. This is local custom, regardless of what you may be used to or believe in at home.
That conveniently free seat on the jam-packed tram or bus is for the conductor - you are not allowed to sit there!
When going to the theatre or a concert, you are expected to check your coat and any larger bags at the coat check. When squeezing past others into your seat, take care to face them as you pass - doing it "the way you are used to" is regarded as "shoving your ass in their face" in Russia, and is a social no-no.
Always emphasize the good and the beautiful things you like in Moscow and Russia, try not to criticize and compare. Russians know that there are a lot of problems in this country, but they are also very proud of their history and culture. They will highly appreciate it if you show them that you like it here - or at least like some of it!
Small gifts are much appreciated. Keep a list of people who have been nice and helpful to you, such as your concierge, parking lot attendant, your favourite vendor at the supermarket, a friendly neighbour, etc. Give them a small gift such as a box of chocolate or candy or a small souvenir from your home country for major holidays, such as New Year's. Only women are given gifts on March 8th and flowers will be much appreciated, along with a nice card. Pretty calendars and company gifts such as coffee mugs and pens are also good. And, of course, don't forget about your driver, nanny, housekeeper and other friendly helpers. Along with a "real" gift, they will also appreciate a cash bonus.
Along with your baggage, bring a good amount of patience, sympathy, tolerance, and your sense of humour. These should get you through most difficulties. Russians are used to long centuries of foreigners bringing their eccentric habits and peculiarities with them to Russia - and they will tolerate almost any accidental indiscretions if you can manage a friendly grin as you commit them.
Based on the materials from the book "Living in Moscow" by Barbara Spier.
83.ATM Machines :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Cards Accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Eurocard, Cirrus, Maestro
Click Here for the complete SberBank ATM List in English
Metro Name: A-D I-M N-P R-Z
MetroAddress Vnukovo Airport Sheremetievo 2 Airport AeroportLeningradsky Prospekt, 58AeroportUl. Krasnoarmeiskaya, 20AltufievskayaUl. Cherepovetskaya, 20AviamotornayaShosse Entuziastov, 14AviamotornayaUl. Aviamotornaya, 10AvtozavodskayaUl. Shestaya Kozhukhovskaya, 26BabushkinskayaUl. Letchika Babushkina, 37, Bld. 2BabushkinskayaUl. Losevskaya, 22 BabushkinskayaYeniseiskaya Ul., 29/1ByelorusskayaTretya Ulitsa Yamskogo Polya, 15DinamoLeningradsky Prospekt, 44DinamoUl. Begovaya, 17DmitrovskayaOgorodnyi Proezd, 19DobryninskayaUl. Lyusinovskaya, 26/28Izmailovsky ParkIzmailovskoye Shosse, 71, Bld. 4KaluzhskayaNovye Cheremushki District, 29/30, Bld. 5KaluzhskayaUl. Butlerova, 30-AKaluzhskayaUl. Vvedenskogo, 3KashirskayaUl. Koshkina, 6 Bld. 1KievskayaUl. Bryanskaya, 8KonkovoUl. Profsoyuznaya, 115KuntsevskayaMozhaiskoye Shosse, 4Kuzminki, TekstilshchikiUl. Yunykh Lenintsev, 3Kuznetsky Most, ChekhovskayaUl. Petrovka, 17MedvedkovoUl. Polyarnaya, 16/1Molodezhnaya, KrylatskoyeRublevskoe Shosse, 16NagornayaUl. Krivorozhskaya, 23, Bld. 1NovokuznetskayaRaushskaya Naberezhnaya, 14OktyabrskayaLeninsky Prospekt, 7Oktyabrskoye PoleUl. Narodnogo Opolcheniya, 20Oktyabrskoye PoleUl. Narodnogo Opolcheniya, 45Oktyabrskoye PoleUl. Raspletina, 10, Bld. 1OrekhovoShipilovsky Proezd, 39, Bld. 1Park KulturyZubovsky Bulvar, 13, Bld. 1PerovoTreti Proezd Perova Polya, 3APerovoUl. Sayanskaya, 18PervomaiskayaSirenevy Bulvar, 7Petrovsko-RazumovskayaDmitrovskoye Shosse, 29Petrovsko-Razumovskaya Korovinskoye Shosse, 29PolezhaevskayaProspekt Marshala Zhukova, 11PolezhaevskayaProspekt Marshala Zhukova, 44PolyankaUl. Bolshaya Yakimanka, 18Preobrazhenskaya PloshchadPreobrazhenskaya Ploshchad, 7Preobrazhenskaya ploshchadUl. Prostornaya, 2Profsoyuznaya, AkademicheskayaUl. Ivana Babushkina, 14Profsoyuznaya, AkademicheskayaUl. Profsoyuznaya, 20/9ProletarskayaTreti Krutitsky Pereulok, 15ProletarskayaUl. Marksistskaya, 34, Bld. 7Proletarskaya Ul. Pervaya Dubrovskaya, 1-AProletarskayaVolgogradsky Prospekt, 1Prospekt MiraUl. Bolshaya Pereyaslavskaya, 9PushkinskayaLeontievsky Pereulok, 14Pushkinskaya, TverskayaBolshoi Palashevsky Pereulok, 5/11Pushkinskaya, Tverskaya, ChekhovskayaUl. Tverskaya, 19Rechnoi VokzalZelenograd, Bld. 1204Rechnoi VokzalZelenograd, Bld. 1462Rechnoi VokzalZelenograd, Bld. 1812Rizhskaya, SavelovskayaUl. Sovetskoi Armii, 17SavelovskayaUl. Bashilovskaya, 11SemenovskayaIzmailovskoye Shosse, 24ShchukinskayaUl. Gabrichevskogo, 10ShchukinskayaUl. Isakovskogo, 31ShchukinskayaUl. Tallinskaya, 26SkhodnenskayaUl. Fabritsiusa, 18SkhodnenskayaUl. Skhodnenskaya, 9 SmolenskayaPereulok Sivtsev Vrazhek, 29/16SmolenskayaProtochny Pereulok, 11SokolLeningradsky Prospekt, 74SokolninkiSokolnicheskaya Ploshchad, 9 Bld. 2SokolninkiUl. Stromynka, 19SukharevskayaUl. Sretenka, 17Taganskaya, MarksistskayaUl. Bolshaya Andronievskaya, 8Taganskaya, MarksistskayaUl. Narodnaya, 12, Bld. 1TekstilshchikiUl. Lyublinskaya, 38TretyakovskayaUl Novokuznetskaya, 16/18TsaritsynoUl. Biryulevskaya, 41/7TsaritsynoUl. Luganskaya, 5Tsvetnoi BulvarUl. Karetny Ryad, 8Tsvetnoi Bulvar, NovoslobodskayaUl Delegatskaya, 11TulskayaUl. Bolshaya Tulskaya, 2Ulitsa PodbelskogoOtkrytoye Shosse, 25VDNKhProspekt Mira, 182VDNKhYaroslavskoe Shosse, 22, Bld. 3Vodny StadionKrondshadtsky Bulvar, 7a Vodny StadionOnezhskaya Ul., 12Vodny StadionUl. Admirala Makarova, 45Vodny StadionUl. Mikhalkovskaya, 8VoikovskayaLeningradskoye Shosse, 13Yugo-ZapadnayaLeninsky Prospekt, 148Yugo-ZapadnayaUl. Fedosyino, 4, Bld. 1Yugo-ZapadnayaUl. Nikulinskaya, 25YuzhnayaUl. Kirovogradskaya, 8, Bld. 3
84.Snow Arena Polo World Cup Moscow :: The virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians, Moscow, Russia  
Snow Arena Polo World Cup Moscow
February, 28-29
Central Moscow Hippodrome
Snow Arena Polo World Cup Moscow, to be held on February 28-29, 2004, in the Central Moscow Hippodrome, will be the first competition of its kind in Russia. Organized by the Moscow Polo Club, this will be a historic event in the sport of polo. Internationally renowned polo players and polo personalities have confirmed their participation. The list of invitees includes polo club owners, businessmen, politicians and polo fans from all over the world. One team from England and two teams from Italy will be battling for the honor of claiming to have won Russia’s first polo on snow tournament. The organizers expect this event to become an annual event and the final stop of the European polo on snow circuit which is played in France, Switzerland and Italy.
The aristocratic sport of polo has a long-established tradition in this part of the world. Russia’s first polo tournaments were held in the days of the tsars. However, the Bolshevik coup of 1917 caused a long break in this tradition.
Now, the Moscow Polo Club and its founding President Victor Huaco are reviving the sport of polo in Russia after nearly a century-long hiatus. The First Russian Polo Cup in 2003, which took place last September and featured some of the world’s best polo players, drew over 400 spectators. In that tournament, the ESN Group team emerged as the winner.
Snow Arena Polo World Cup Moscow will surely be one of the most exciting and spectacular events in Russia’s capital this year, in both the world of sports and the world of high society. – the web site of Moscow Polo Club.
Date: Saturday 28th and Sunday the 29th of February 2004
TimeEvent12.00-12.30Arrival of the guests12.30-15.00 Officially announce the Opening of the tournament
Welcome of the President Moscow Polo Club
Polo teams parade
Players presentation
Games15.00 Closing the tournament
Prize giving
85.In Case of Emergency::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
In Case of Emergency
1. Prepare for Emergencies
Keep your insurance/assistance company card with you at all times. Make a personal emergency response plan, have it translated into Russian, and keep it in your car and your wallet/billfold. This plan should answer the questions: "What would I want people to do if they found me unconscious"
2. Call your insurance/assistance company early in the event of a problem
Make a "check" call when you are not in trouble to ensure the phone number is valid and that you can reach someone who speaks your language. Check that they can do what you would want them to do in the event of an emergency. Do they have the necessary authority to act, and sufficient local personnel and infrastructure to act quickly?
If you have medical and evacuation insurance - and it is recommended that you have both - be sure that the company will agree to evacuate you or repatriate you in the event of a serious medical emergency. Disregard the marketing brochures; fax them a scenario or two and ask them to tell you what they would do. If they will not agree to commit in writing, find a better provider.
3. In the event of an emergency, speed up the response by volunteering the minimum required information logically and clearly
Name and telephone number where you can be reached if the line is cut off
Membership number of company affiliation
Brief description of the medical problem and what kind of help you need
Location of patient and location of passport (vital for overseas medical evacuation)
In certain circumstances, it may be required or recommended to go abroad for medical reasons. As in many other countries, one cannot leave Russian without proper travel documents. Therefore, have your travel documents up to date and accessible at all times. To obtain a special authorization to leave and enter countries without proper travel documents is a difficult and time-consuming process and success cannot be guaranteed.
At all times know the status and whereabouts of your and your family's passports. Never allow your travel documents to be taken from you overnight or over the week unless you know you can retrieve in an emergency.
Important Phone Numbers
Fire fighters 101
Police 102
Ambulance 103
Emergency Gas Service 104
Intercity phone calls 107
Information 109
Time (automatic clock) 100
Emergency rescue service +7 (495) 937-9911 or 911
International SOS (The Moscow Clinic, 24 hour service to its clients)
American Medical Centers (24 hours service)
European Medical Center (French, British and American experts)
International crisis Line
Tel: 8 926 1133373
This is a free English-speaking telephone counseling service for expatriates people in distress. Available 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
In case you ever have to call the fire fighters, the police, or an ambulance, make sure that all family members can correctly pronounce your complete address in Russian.
Post a piece of paper with your full address details and phone numbers in Russian and translation into your native language on the wall next to your phone.
Also make sure that your children know how to reach you or another adult you trust in case they get lost or have an emergency.
Note that in Russia there is difference between the police (militsiya) and the traffic police (GIBDD, formerly GAI). The police are not responsible for regulating traffic or handling car accidents, and the traffic police do not handle criminal offences that are unrelated to traffic.
Pharmacies (Apteki)
Finding a pharmacy in Moscow is definitely not a problem. In fact, quite a few number of them are open 24/7. The prices vary from one pharmacy to another, but the difference is not very significant.
Information on pharmacies in Moscow
Embassies and Consulates
Your country's embassy or consulate can:
Provide information on Russia's foreign-residency requirements;
Renew an expired passport or replace a lost or stolen one;
Report a birth in Russia to your home country;
Provide guidelines for getting married in Russia;
Help make arrangements in the case of a death;
Assist in voter registration and obtaining absentee ballots;
Register its citizens residing in Russia (so that they can be contacted in case of an emergency);
Certify copies of documents in you home country's language.
Please remember that anyone temporarily or permanently residing in Russia is subject to Russian legislation. Any private or public disputes must be settled through the Russian legal system. Diplomatic or consular officials are not authorized to practice law or to act as an attorney or agents in private matters. They should, however, be able to provide you with contact details for attorneys who can represent you in court.
86.Tourism::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Moscow has a growing number of first-class international hotels and several smaller hostels that offer quality accommodation at more reasonable price. A hotel can be called a "gostinitsa" or an "otel" in Russian. If you intend to stay at a hotel with your pet, make sure that this is possible - not all hotels in Moscow allow pets.
The present Moscow hotel market in general can be divided into 5 groups:
luxury 4-5-star hotels;
tourist-class hotels;
small private 3-4-star hotels;
former ex-Soviet and present hotels of the state departments;
country hotels.
As for 4-5-star hotels, the majority of them are owned or managed by the western hospitality companies (such are "Marriott", "Sheraton", and "Kempinski"). But though some of them in fact belong to the city and are administered by purely Russian management, it doesn't mean a low quality of service.
Hotels of the second category in most cases still carry some features of Soviet time. It is reflected in general management, as well as in the level of service and equipment. Anyway central hotels of this category have no problems with visitors. This determines their price policy: $100-350 per day for a room.
The service standards in 4-5-star hotels have much in common with the western ones. The compulsory set of the facilities includes: parking, safe, room service, satellite TV, business centre (with internet access, copying, faxing, etc.), air conditioning, telephone, mini-bar, different stalls. Depending on the hotel you may be offered a fitness-centre, swimming pool, beauty salon, conference-halls, no-smoking rooms, concierge's services. Unfortunately most of the hotels, even expensive ones, have no conveniences for disabled people.
The prices in the majority of Moscow hotels are quoted in USD, but will be charged in roubles at the prevailing rate. Be careful: many hotels don't include 20% VAT into their prices. According to Russian laws all the payments are received in roubles. The rate of exchange in the hotel may be higher than one for which you've changed money.
Nearly all the hotels accept credit cards, but there are hotels and restaurants which for some reasons don't accept American Express cards. Travelling with children, you should check the amount of the additional payment, which may vary from 0 to 50% depending on the hotel and a child's age.
Movements of Personal Effects
An individual can temporarily bring goods weighing up to 50 kg and valued up to EUR 1500 duty-free into Russia. Individuals shall be charged 30% of the customs value of the imported goods exceeding EUR 1500, but not less than EUR 4.0 per kg in excess of the limit.
Travel Agencies
There are hundreds of travel agencies in Moscow: some specialize in ticket sales, others offer full tour and vacation packages, some specialize in tours to certain countries or continents, and yet others specialize in adventure and nature travel.
Car Rental
If you do not have your own car and feel like doing a bit of driving on your own after having settled in and having acquainted yourself with the Russian style of driving and traffic regulations, you may want to rent a car for a few days to explore Moscow and its surroundings on your own.
While you may come across a map with a bilingual street index, good English-language maps of Moscow are very difficult to find. In order to use maps you will have to know the Russian alphabet - otherwise you won't be able to look up streets in the index. You can purchase these maps at many bookstores, magazine and newspaper kiosks, and gas stations. The larger bookstores should also have maps for Moscow's suburbs and other cities in Russia.
Address in Moscow
While looking for a certain house in Moscow you should keep in mind the following things:
1. You need to know whether the house you are looking for is on the street (ulitsa), a lane (pereulok), an avenue (prospect), a boulevard (bulvar), an embankment (naberezhnaya).
2. Several streets in Moscow have numbers in front of them. For example, there is a 1st, a 2nd , 3rd and 5th Tverskaya-Yamskaya ulitsa.
3. You must also know whether a house is, for example, located on Bolshaya (big) Ordynka or Malaya (Small) Ordynka. There are many other examples of streets and lanes which exist twice - as a "big one" and a "small one".
4. A house (dom) can have several buildings (korpus or stroenie) to it. Usually the individual buildings are numbered (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), but sometimes they may have letters such as A, B, V, G, D.
5. Also make sure you ask for the entrance number. (There can be up to 20 of them in one house).
6. Google Maps cover Moscow very well, and the Russian search-engine Yandex has a similarly good street-finding map service.
If you were happy with the food and the service at a restaurant, a 5 to 10% tip is appropriate. Try to tip your waiter in cash; if you add the tip to your credit card bill, the waiter will most likely never see the money. (In practice the way that credit-card payments are processed in Russia doesn't permit you to add tips in the huge majority of restaurants anyhow). You may also want to give small tips to handymen and plumbers.
Taxi drivers are not usually tipped, but you may want to pay them some extra money if they help you to carry your bags. Hotel/restaurant coatroom attendants are not normally tipped, but as these are often elderly ladies or men, they may appreciate a small token of appreciation. You don't tip coatroom attendants in public buildings, theatres, etc. It's usual to tip guides and interpreters if you've been satisfied with their work - very often their agency will be taking a large part of the fee you've paid.
Russian is the basic language spoken in Moscow and in Russia in general, but you may hear many other languages spoken on the streets as Moscow welcomes lots of immigrants from the former CIS republics. A basic course in Russian comes highly recommended as in most cases, signs, road names and practically everything you see in Russia will be written in Cyrillic, so getting a good grip of the alphabet is key.
Even if you don't learn Russian, being able to read the alphabet will make a quantum improvement in your ability to move around independently, and will quickly repay the time spent in real savings. Practice by writing-out familiar words (your name, address, your friends, etc) using the Russian alphabet.
87.Communication & Postal Services::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Communication & Postal Services
Russian post services handle all kinds of communications, including local and international postal services, registered mail (incoming and outgoing), stamps, telegrams, intercity and international phone calls, newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Box rentals, intercity and international call services may only be available at the Main Post Office. Post offices (pochta) are located all over Moscow; each neighbourhood has at least one.
Moscow's Main Post Office (Moskovsky Glavpochtamt) is located at Myasnitskaya ul., 26, metro Turgenevskaya or Chistye Prudy. It is open 24/7. A convenient, centrally located post office is the Central Telegraph (Tsentralny Telegraph) at Tverskaya ul., 7, just up the hill from the National Hotel. Moscow's Main International Post Office is located at Varshavskoye sh., 37, metro Nagatinskaya.
Sending and Receiving Mail
If you want your friends and relatives to send you mail from abroad to your home or work address, make sure you provide them with the complete address. One of the most important items in your address is the postal index (equivalent to zip code), which consists of six numbers. Find out the index of your home address from your landlord; that of your work should be printed on your business car. An incorrect index will result in your mail being sent to the wrong post office in Moscow, which will delay delivery as your mail will have to be re-sent to the post office that handles your area.
For incoming mail, it is okay if the address is written in English. Ask your friends to clearly print all letters. (Capital letters are best). You might also want to e-mail or fax them your address in Russian printed letters so that they can copy in onto the envelope. Outgoing international mail can obviously also be address in English, but it helps if you spell out the name of the country to which you are sending your postcard, letter or parcel in English and in Russian.
If you want to send a letter or parcel from Russia, you should address it as follows:
country (only for international mail, including that to the former republics);
index and city;
street, building number, entrance number, apartment number;
last name, first name and patronymic (the latter only if applicable).
Public mail boxes are blue with the word "Pochta" written on them in white letters. They are available all over town and each post office usually has one outside (attached to the wall) and one inside. Regular mail will be delivered to the mail box (pochtovy yashchik) inside your building or to your office reception.
If someone sent you a registered letter or parcel and you are not at home when the post office attempts to deliver it, they will put a slip of paper in your post box notifying you of its arrival. The paper will also say at which post office you can retrieve your mail. You must complete the back of the slip which asks for your name, address in Moscow, passport details (issued where, when and by which agency). You must then show your original passport to receive your mail. If you fail to show up within several days of the notification, you might have to pay storage charges.
The Russian post service is still a bit unreliable - an airmail letter from Moscow to another country can take anywhere from three weeks to three months to arrive; the same applies to incoming mail. Important items and documents should only be sent by registered mail. A registered letter is called "zakaznoye pismo"; a registered parcel is called "zakaznaya pasylka". The best (but also the most expensive) option will be express mail company.
Making Phone Calls within Moscow
When dialed from your home landline, phone calls within Moscow are still free of charge. Unless you live in a residential compound or hotel, which might require you to dial a number such as 0 or 9 to get access to an outside line, you just pick up the phone and dial the number. The majority of landline phone numbers in Moscow consists of seven digits. As Moscow has two area codes (495 or 499), sometimes you have to dial eleven digits (if case with 499 code). The same applies to making a phone call to a federal mobile number.
Making Phone Calls to Other Cities in Russia
Phone calls to other cities in Russia are still quite affordable. To reach a phone number in another city in Russia, dial 8, wait for the tone, then dial 55 or 53, then dial the area code of the city you are calling followed by the local number. For example, to call someone in St.Petersburg, dial 8, wait for the tone, then dial 55 or 53, then dial 812 (the area code for St.Petersburg) and the local phone number.
Making Calls to Other Countries
It is fairly easy to make an international phone call from a standard Russian telephone line, and normally you will get through even to remote locations. To access an outside line, dial 8 and wait for the tone. Then dial 10, followed by the country code, the city code and the local phone number you want to reach. For example, to call a number in the US, dial 8, wait for the tone, then dial 10 followed by 1 (the country code for the US) followed by the area code and local number.
If the city code starts with a 0 (e.g. in the UK and Germany), do not dial the 0 and start with the first non-zero number after it. For example, to call London, you would dial 8-10-44-208 followed by the local number (instead of 8-10-0208). When giving friends abroad your phone number in Moscow, remember to tell them the country code for Russia is 7 and the area codes for Moscow are 495 or 499. Your landlord will for sure tell you your area code. If you have a seven-digit home or office number or a direct Moscow mobile number, they need to dial +7 495 111 11 11.
Information on international dialing codes
Mobile Phones and Mobile Communication
The mobile phone market works slightly differently in Russia than in other countries, particularly the US. Service companies do not throw in the handset for free as part of your sign-up package. When you sign-up for service, you will receive a SIM card, which contains all of your account information. The card can be inserted into any unlocked handset (the great majority of handsets on sale in Russia are unlocked). When you purchase your SIM card and phone, be sure to keep all of the paper work that you are given in a safe place. If you lose your phone, call your service provider immediately so that they can freeze your account. In most cases, they can reissue you a new SIM card and you can retain your old number, service package and account balance. Mobile phones are available from numerous stores and shops all over town. At most of them you can get your new phone connected on the spot through the provider of your choice. There are 3 major phone operators in Moscow: Beeline, Megafon and MTS. They all offer a wide range of services and payment plans.
Two different kinds of mobile phone numbers are currently available in Moscow: a direct number and non-direct/federal number. A direct number is a seven-digit number, just like any other Moscow number, and can be accessed from any home, office or other mobile phone. A federal number consists of the number 8 followed by a three-digit area code such as 916, 926, 960 and a seven-digit number. Service charges for a direct number are more expensive than for the non-direct/federal number option. All major phone operator in Moscow offer an international roaming.
If you want to send an SMS to a direct Moscow mobile number you need to enter +7 495 followed by the seven-digit number.
You can top up your mobile phone in a variety of ways:
You can purchase mobile phone cards, that are sold everywhere from supermarkets to kiosks.
You can use multi-kassas - special devices that are on every corner and that look a little bit like ATMs. Usually when you pay with multi-kassa, you have to pay extra commission about 2-5%. In some mobile phone shops (like Svyaznoi) there are multi-kassas without extra commission.
You can top up your phone in any mobile phone shop. No commission is taken.
You can pay by your credit card directly via ATM.
You can top up your phone transmitting money form your bank account via Internet-banking.
Pay Phones
A pay phone is called a "taksofon" in Russian. You will find several different types of pay phones in Moscow. Some work with tokens, which are sold in kiosks and in metro stations; others work with pre-paid phone cards. Some allow you to make local, national and international calls while others are only for local calls. A particular kind of phone card will only work with particular kinds of pay phones, i.e. there are no universal pay phone cards.
Internet Service & Satellite TV Providers
There are many internet service providers in Moscow offering high-speed broadband internet access, as well as ADSL high-speed access with Akado, Stream and Corbina being the most popular ones. Prices for internet access are moderate compared to Europe and USA with the cheapest tariff rates starting from about 250 Rbs. Moscow features lots of free Wi-Fi hotspots available in restaurant, cafes, clubs, hotels and other public places, though internet cafes with wired internet access are also at your service. Satellite TV is getting more and more popular in Moscow. Major satellite TV providers are listed here.
88.Residential Complexes :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Moscow Oblast, as the Region is called, surrounds the city of Moscow. Combined with the city, the total population is estimated at 12 to 14 million making it the largest and most exciting) city in all of Europe. As Moscow takes its place on the world stage, it is experiencing all the growing pains along with the opportunities.Out-of-town housing has become the housing of choice for well-to-do Russians. Expats have followed them in search of clean air, peace and quiet, and the opportunities that a healthy lifestyle provides. The abundance of new shopping centers includes supermarkets, movie theatres, and an amazing list of internationally known brands.Why live outside the center?Increasingly people choose to live outside for the same reasons as any other major world center: quality of life. The air is fresh and clean, nature is close by, and security concerns are much less. And there is space; space to play with your kids, space to walk the dog, space to relax and the homes themselves are usually bigger than anything in the center. And, it is quiet.Away from the noise and space constraints of the city, children can ride their bikes and enjoy their friends. Cross-country skiing, swimming, horseback riding and tennis are all readily available. The coaching and trainers in Moscow are second to none. Ballet, gymnastics, or the martial arts are all taught in the great Russian sports tradition.Schools are available to kids by school bus or carTwo major schools: The Anglo American School and the school at Rosinka are both located on major residential campuses. This provides a safe learning environment for your kids. School bus transport is available depending on where you live. Shopping is growing rapidlyMany new malls and supermarkets are opening monthly and almost weekly. Out of town locations are easily accessible and have become retailer’s first choice in Moscow. The availability of internationally-known brands is readily comparable with the world’s other great cities.Commuting is comparable to any world capitalThere are morning and evening rush hours. If you leave before or after these times, your commute will be pleasant. Most out-of-town locations are close to the city in terms of actual distances. Take local holidays and seasonal trends into consideration when planning your schedule and all will be well.
The availability and quality of out-town-homes varies widely. Chaotic development, a construction boom, and strong demand make finding the proper community difficult. Traditional dachas are usually stand-alone wooden (old) or brick (new) and are numerous in style and price. However, a word of caution: they come unfinished with little or no support services. Increasingly, dacha communities are springing up trying to address minimum levels of services or security in a slightly more organized fashion.Rosinka, your home in RussiaAlso in the countryside, but just 24 km from the Kremlin is Rosinka, a family-oriented community. We have nearly 270 families from more than 30 nations living on our 54 hectares (140 acres) of countryside. Surrounded on two sides by a National Park and a Federal Forest Reserve, Rosinka is anideal choice for those seeking a healthy lifestyle in a secure and beautiful setting.
Our homes are of the highest quality ranging from 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms to 5 bedrooms, with 5.5 bathrooms. We are clearly the leaders in the suburban residential market. Our motto is that our clients come first - and we have a committed team dedicated to this goal. Rosinka is home to more than 400 children. In 2002 we built a brand new building for our more than 50 pre-schoolers. It is equipped with six classrooms, plus an art-room, playroom, and a kitchen for cooking lessons.
Our Pre-School is adjacent to a beautiful 13,500 square meters (145,000 square feet) Sports Center. There’s a 25-meter heated indoor pool,world-class tennis courts, squash courts and weight room. Kids and their parents can enjoy international level instruction in ballet, gymnastics, karate, judo, yoga, aerobics, swimming, tennis and other sports and activities. A medical doctor has offices in the center and is available round the clock.
For more information on Rosinka Complex contact: Russia, 143442, Moscow rural, Krasnogorsky region, village Angelovo. Tel: (+7 495) 730-3200, Fax: (+7 495) 730-3232 E-mail: Web:
89.Visas :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
One of the most immediate considerations a foreign national will face upon coming to Russia is compliance with Russia’s immigration system. This overview of the Russian immigration regulations sets out the procedures needed to be taken by a foreign individual, and his employer, to try to ensure that individual fulfils the requirements of the Russian legislation whilst he is visiting and/or working in Russia. However, the system is somewhat Byzantine in its complexity, and immigration regulations are evolving rapidly, both in technical terms and, more importantly, in how they are practically enacted. Hence, constant vigilance is required to keep abreast of the current status. There is significant risk in assuming that a process that has worked in the past will work again in the future, even where there are no formal technical changes to the regulations.
While it's become a lot easier to get a Russian visa, don't think your problems are over when you've received yours. If you make a false step while running the gauntlet of registration and (if necessary) getting a work permit, you face fines, hassles and maybe even arrest and deportation. This is why Expats who can afford to, take a more expensive, but far less stressful route: they use one of the many visa services. The agencies stay abreast of the changing rules and regulations and can cope with the bureaucracy, from start to finish.
Getting a Visa
First, plan ahead. It usually takes anywhere from four to six weeks to get a Russian visa, although it is technically possible to get one in as little as one day. To get a visa, you need first to get an invitation from a Russian organization. This can be a Russian firm, government organization, educational institution, or a representative office of a foreign firm. Some international hotels can also arrange a visa invitation. The invitation is issued through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Moscow, which in turn either sends a telex to the specified Russian consulate abroad instructing that a visa be issued or gives you a invitation which you can then take into a Russian Consulate. Visa service organizations are in the business of issuing these invitations for a fee (which includes the fee paid to the MFA for processing the invitation). Keep in mind that the Russian consulate abroad also charges a fee, which is in addition to the fee you pay to the visa service company.
Once you're notified that your telex has arrived at the consulate, bring your passport, a completed visa application form, and the required fee (it varies from consulate to consulate). If you're applying for a multiple entry visa, you are officially required to present the results of an HIV test conducted during the preceding three months. Most Medical Centers in Moscow offer this service. The truth is that not all consulates bother to ask for one, but in case you are asked, it's better to be safe than sorry. The fees you pay for the issuance of the invitation and for the visa itself vary, depending on how quickly you want to receive the document.
Tourist visas are usually issued for one month, while the others are issued for anywhere from three months to one year. The short-term visas are almost always single entry-exit visas, while the longer-term visas usually allow you to make three trips into and out of Russia. Multiple-entry visas allow you to enter and leave the country as many times as you wish.
In some countries the Russian Consulate may have franchised-out the job of issuing visas to a specialized agency or computer-centre. In this case you can no longer apply directly to the Consulate, but must take your documents to this agency instead. In theory this is supposed to streamline the application process, but in practice no real improvements have been noticed. There will usually be Consular Officers of the Russian Federation working at the centre, supervising the clerical work done by the staff and resolving any procedural queries.
There are four main areas of compliance required for most foreign nationals and parties linked with them when coming to (and leaving) Russia. These are:
Immigration card;
Work permits/Residency permits.
Basically, the type of Russian visa is determined by the individual's purpose of visit; this, in turn, governs the scope of activities that an expatriate may be engaged while in Russia under the certain type of visa.
Transit Visa
If your travel plans take you through Moscow on a connecting flight (or train) to another country, you are entitled to obtain a three-day transit visa. This will enable you to get out into the city instead of remaining in the transit hotel. You will need to evidence your journey at the Consulate with the actual air ticket (original - photocopies, itineraries, or email confirmations are not accepted). You can only obtain a transit visa if you are going via Moscow to somewhere else - a straight return ticket to/from Moscow would not be sufficient. Again, a visa agency or hosting organization can arrange this for you in advance, and will have someone meet you when you step off the plane. It is technically possible to obtain a transit visa when arriving at major airports, although in practice this is not so easy.
Business Visas
A business visa is foreseen for foreign nationals coming to Russia for business purposes, including participation in negotiations, conferences and consultations, making contracts and professional improvement. A business visa does not empower foreign individuals to hold official positions in Russian legal entities, represent them, or perform work in Russia under the civil or employment agreements. Importantly, business visas also cover some persons coming on “montage” or “chef-montage” activity, where they are helping put imported machinery into production or servicing it for the foreign vendor. Generally, business visas are issued based on invitations from Russian hosts and issued via Russian consulates outside Russia. The validity period of a single or a dual business visas is three months.
Multiple-entry business visas, like work visas, are valid for 12 months. However, these are restricted, so they only allow the foreign national to be present in Russia for no more than 90 days in any 180-day period. Once the visa expires, the foreign individual has to leave Russia, as business visas cannot be reissued in Russia. Russia has a number of immigration treaties, most notably with the EU (excluding the UK, Ireland and Denmark), which can extend the length of the validity of business visas up to five years.
Work Visas
A work visa is intended for foreign individuals coming in Russia to work or render services under an employment or a civil agreement respectively. By contrast with a business visa, a work visa allows an expatriate to occupy a position in the Russian company (or representative office or branch of a foreign company) indicated in the individual work permit and to act in an official capacity for this company. Initially, a single-entry work visa is issued by a consulate outside Russia for three months only based on the employer's invitation. The employer may further apply for an extended multiple-entry work visa upon expatriate’s arrival in Russia.
Foreign nationals are required to stay in Russia during the application process and issuance of the multiple entry work visa. The validity period of a work visa is linked to the validity period of the expatriate’s work permit (or accreditation card issued for accredited person working in a representative office or branch of a foreign company), but cannot exceed one year. If the employment agreement remains in force upon the visa's expiry, a new multiple-entry work visa can be obtained, provided that there is a new individual work permit.
Visa for "Inosotrudniki"
This is a special type of work visa issued for accredited expatriate employees of foreign companies operating in Russia through its representative offices or branches. In practice, this is an easier visa to obtain from an administrative perspective, as it separates the visa application from the work permit.
Family Visas
Spouses and children of relocating expatriates can apply for visas in the same way as the executive. An ‘Accompanying Spouse Visaand/or ‘Dependent’s Visa’ can be obtained at the same time as the expatriate applies for his/ her own visa. Talk with your HR department to make certain that this process is carried out at the same time as your visa application.
Upon arrival in Russia, each foreign national should complete and retain the stamped half of the immigration card. This card contains information about the arrival and departure of the individual in and from Russia, as well as the period of his or her stay in Russia. This document is delivered to each foreign citizen by the Russian border control authorities. The foreigner should keep the immigration card during his whole stay in Russia. If the immigration card is damaged or lost, the foreign national should notify the local immigration authorities within three days, and they may further issue a duplicate upon presenting the documents based on which the individual entered Russia (passport and visa, if applicable).
Upon departure from Russia, the foreign national should return the original immigration card at the Russian border control. Failure to return the immigration card is considered to be a violation and may lead to the formal deportation of a foreign individual from Russia. If deported, the individual will not be able to enter Russia for the next five years.
Registering your Immigration Card
The process for registering your immigration card will be exactly the same as it was for registering a visa. If you are staying in an apartment, you will need a notarized letter from your landlord
Once you've arrived in Russia, you are legally required to register within three working days (72 hours) with OVIR, the agency that registers foreigners in Russia. This is done a number of ways depending on where you will live while staying in Russia and whether your visa is multiple entry or not. If your visa is multiple-entry, you must register at the Central OVIR. Bring the original letter of invitation from your sponsoring organization, your migration card, passport, and a notarized letter from your landlord.
If you lived in a hotel during the first few days of your stay and then moved to a private residence, do not make the mistake of thinking you are registered. You still need to have your card registered at OVIR at your permanent address in Russia. And if that's not enough, you might need yet another letter if you've gotten your visa invitation from a foreign rep office. This will need to be a letter from the Russian organization that accredits the rep office.
For single and double entry visas, you can register simply by having your sponsoring organization stamp your migration card. You will need a Central OVIR registration as well, however, if you intend to marry in Russia or buy a car. If you are living only in a hotel during your stay, the hotel will register you. But count your stamps. Your card will be stamped once when you check in, and a second time when you check out. Some people think that the first stamp is sufficient. It is not. Most visa service companies will handle the OVIR registration process, saving you the wait in line.
What Happens if you Don't Register
You can be fined if you don't quite get your registration right and in some very rare cases can even be deported. And if you are found out at the airport, it can cost you several hundred dollars in fines not to mention the hassle of having to miss your flight and spend a couple of more days in Moscow to get an exit visa from Central OVIR.
Enrolment is the process of notifying the immigration authorities of a foreign citizen’s whereabouts (international travel as well as internal trips within Russia). Upon arrival in Russia, each foreign national should be enrolled (registered) in the Russian migration system at his host location. Enrolment, as well as de-enrolment should be completed in respect of the foreign national by the hosting party: either by hotel, or by employer (visa sponsor), or landlord (whichever is applicable). In practice, most landlords are unwilling to perform this role.
This process is to be completed within 3 business days upon arrival, each time an individual arrives to the country or travels to another region within Russia for more than 3 business days. The de-enrolment process should be completed within 2 calendar days of the departure, every time a foreign national departs from Russia or leaves for another region within Russia for more than 3 business days. It is recommendable that the individual hold a copy of the enrolment/de-enrolment form while travelling in Russia or outside.
Further, as the fines for non-compliance with the enrolment requirement are rather high, each foreign employee will typically need to notify his or her employer on any trip within or out of the country, even if this is personal trip, so that the procedure can be carried out.
When your Visa Expires
Visas can be renewed for a week or two when they are expiring - long enough to allow you to finish what you're doing and leave the country. If your visa cannot be renewed you need to apply for a new one. This usually necessitates a trip out of the country, although some agencies do offer visas that don't require you to leave. As a rule the more established visa firms do not offer such services. Given the lead time to obtaining a new visa, allow at least one month between the time you apply for a new visa and the expiration of your current one.
90.Charities::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Private charities were outlawed during the 70 years of communist power. When the Soviet Union began to collapse, and the social safety net unravelled, Russians found themselves scrambling to build an NGO culture from scratch. Expats have been involved in a big way - and many have specifically come to Russia to help out. Others who are already here see overwhelming needs every day that they cannot ignore. Here's how to get involved.
If language is a barrier, volunteer or fund raise through any of the myriad of community or religious organizations.
Russian speakers can go directly to a Russian charity or help an expat group find new projects to support.
Beware if you are moved to write checks at the site of photos of needy children staring helplessly from the front of a slick brochure. Sometimes the most effective Russian charities can't afford Madison Avenue and some of those who can may not be what they seem.
Some do's and don'ts
Do realize that the Russian tax law doesn't grant NGOs the kinds of benefits they enjoy in the West. Thus, instead of creating a project to fill a need, charities target needs that the law allows them to address.
Don't donate money without thoroughly checking out the recipient organization. NGOs that balk at transparency may not be what they seem.
Don't assume that because an NGO is based abroad it is more effective than a home grown Russian NGO. Often the opposite is true.
Do network.
Moscow is a home to a large number of charitable organizations that are always happy to welcome new volunteers. If you want to volunteer or if you have furniture, clothing, shoes, bedding, toys, kitchenware, appliances or items you no longer need, please contact one of the charitable organizations listed below. Many are always looking for in-kind donations for the projects they support. Some may be able to pick up your donations from your home or office.
AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW)
AIDS Foundation East-West (AFEW) is a Dutch, non-governmental, public health organization working in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) to reduce the impact of HIV among vulnerable populations. AFEW has developed a system of replication, which adapts successful international HIV programmes, based on best practices to the local conditions in other countries across the region. Currently, AFEW carries out programmes in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Tel: 250-6377
AMUR - Working to Save Russian
Tigers and Leopards from Extinction
AMUR is an Anglo-Russian charity promoting the conservation of Amur (Siberian) tigers and leopards and was officially launched at the British Embassy by the former British Ambassador, Sir Roderic Lyne, in May 2001. The Amur tigers and leopards are extremely endangered with only about 450 adult tigers and 35 adult leopards living in the wild in the Russian Far East. AMUR works to raise money and awareness for conservation projects in the Russian Far East, where these two extremely rare big cats live. Amongst other things, AMUR is working to create new protected reserves, promote eco-tourism, carry out education projects and help with much needed research. Volunteers can get involved by joining the AMUR Committee, holding fund raising events (all money raised will go directly to projects in the field), helping organize events, making a donation, etc.
Address: Myasnitskaya ul., 35a, office 46
Metro: Chistie Prudy
Tel: 768-8065
Action for Russia's Children (ARC)
Action for Russia's Children (ARC) is an all-volunteer charity dedicated to helping children - particularly the under-privileged, disabled and homeless - and supports Russian initiatives that offer an alternative to institutional care. ARC works with day centers, therapy centers, specialist schools, a foster family project and toy library to establish alternatives to the internat system and to support parents who have made the difficult decision to keep a special-needs child at home. ARC's volunteers give support to ten projects helping children and young people in Moscow who have all kinds of special needs: physically and mentally disabled children, orphans, the homeless, and those of mixed race who suffer from discrimination.
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)
Charities Aid Foundation is a non-commercial organisation committed to efficient giving. It works to raise the profile of giving, lobby for tax breaks and provide an increasingly broad suite of services to charities and their supporters. The Russian office of the Foundation - CAF Russia - has been a successful charity in Russia since 1993. In close collaboration with the leading Russian and international companies and foundations, it realises around 40 programmes a year. Since the beginning of its work, CAF Russia realised over 300 initiatives aimed at the resolution of a considerable range of social problems, from aiding organisations for the disabled to developing local foundations in 26 regions of the country. Over 44 million dollars went to such ends. The total value of the projects supported by CAF exceeds 120 million dollars.
Address: Tverskaya ul., 24/2, str. 1, podiezd 3, floor 5
Metro: Pushkinskaya
Tel: 792-5929
Diema's Dream
Diema's Dream was founded in 1998 as a result of Mary Dudley's charitable work with orphanages in Moscow while she first lived here from 1994 to 1997. It was during this time that she met Diema, a charming little boy who had hydrocephalus and was paralyzed from the waist down. When Diema turned 5, he was sent to an Internat for children from the ages of 5 to 18. The founder had lost Diema in the system. Through her search to find Diema, Mary met Leonid Mogilevsky. Diema was one of the lucky children to have been saved by Mogilevsky from one of the worst internats in Moscow. Today Diema's Dream is a non-profit, all volunteer US and UK foundation providing financial medical and educational support for physically and mentally disabled children in Russia and the former Soviet Union states. The larger goal is to support changes in society and government in order to create social and medical support programs that will allow parents to raise their children at home instead of living in institutions. Diema's Dream has sponsored educational seminars for the staff and teachers of the Charity House Program.
Address: Borisovskiye Prudy ul., 16, korp. 4
Metro: Kashirskaya
Tel.: 340-0100
Downside Up
For decades Russian children with Down syndrome had no early intervention services, and their needs were ignored. In 1996 Downside Up, a Russian-British charity, began its daily free programs for Russian families that raise children with DS. Downside Up provides free educational and social services to several hundred Russian children with Down syndrome and their families. Volunteers are involved in charity fundraising events, such as an annual bike ride in Moscow and a Kilimanjaro Climb, and do volunteer work with the children at the center.
Address: 3rd Parkovaya ul., 14a
Metro: Izmailovskaya
Tel: 8 499 367-1000
Address: Leningradsky prosp., 26, korp. 1
Metro: Belorusskaya
Tel: 988-7460
Guide Dogs - Dogs as Assistants to Disabled People
Guide Dogs is an independent non-profit charity called "Dogs as Assistants to Disabled People" that provides a free humanitarian service to disabled Russians. The volunteer trainers train both guide dogs for the blind and help dogs for physically or mentally disabled people. Those who receive dogs get them for free. New dog owners also receive free instruction to learn how to work with their four-legged companions. The guide dog services are provided free of charge, but since Guide Dogs Dogs receives no governmental assistance the center relies on donations to continue its important work.
Tel: 8 499 145-2261
Hope Worldwide
Hope Worldwide supports orphans, disabled children and pensioners, veterans of World War II and the elderly. Volunteers are always welcome.
Address: Botanicheskaya ul., 33, korp. 5
Metro: Petrovsko-Razumovskaya
Tel: 977-7375
International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)
IFAW's mission is to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout the world by reducing commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats and assisting animals in distress. IFAW seeks to motivate the public to prevent cruelty to animals and to promote animal welfare and conservation policies that advance the wellbeing of both animals and people. Today IFAW's programs include a campaign to save the critically endangered Western population of Gray whales at Sakhalin Island, the IFAW Mobile veterinary clinic that spays/neuters and treats stray dogs and cats, the IFAW Orphan Bear Cubs Project that rehabilitates bear cubs orphaned after the cruel winter den hunt.
Address: Smolenskaya pl., 3, Smolensky Passage
Metro: Smolenskaya
Tel: 937-8386
International Women's Club (IWC) Charities
The International Women's Club of Moscow supports many different charitable projects with the assistance of a group of dedicated volunteers. These projects fall into different areas that include baby houses and internats (orphanages), children, the elderly, families and individuals, foster families, handicapped and hospitals, soup kitchens, street children, the homeless, women's issues and a donations office. Volunteers are always needed and very welcome! The IWC Charities Group holds regular general meetings at which you can find out more about the work of the group and the many projects the IWC supports.
Kidsave International
Kidsave believes that every child needs a family. Consistent with its mission to end the harmful institutionalization of children, Kidsave has been working since 1999 to help move orphaned and abandoned children into permanent families. Volunteers are always welcome to help.
Kitezh Children's Community
Kitezh was established to place children from Russian orphanages into loving adoptive families living in an idyllic village some 300 km southwest of Moscow in the Kaluga Region. This therapeutic community is recognized nationally and internationally for the outstanding work that it does in healing traumatized children. Ten years ago, Kitezh was virgin forest. Slowly, a village of log cabin homes and a school came into being. The school is fully recognized by the government, and there are classes in computing, English, art and icon painting, personal development, as well as Russian, math, history and geography. The children learn traditional Russian dances and perform musicals such as "My Fair Lady" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" in the original English. Some of the first children to come to Kitezh from orphanages ten years ago are now university students - an outstanding testament to the loving success of this community.
Tel: 8 916 9751603
Maria's Children
The Maria's Children studio was established in 1993 when director Maria Yeliseeva began her volunteer work with orphans. Kids from different orphanages in Moscow attend the art studio to team art and life skills. They create murals, paintings and other artwork that has been exhibited in Russia and abroad, and their teachers practice art therapy and musical therapy with children challenged by disabilities. The studio also has a psychologist who works with the children. Maria's Children provides an atmosphere where children learn trust, love and friendship. They learn to paint and in doing so, are empowered to change their lives. Every year, Maria's Children sells adorable postcards and wall calendars. Volunteers who are interested in doing artwork with children are always welcome.
Address: Dmitrovsky per., 2/10
Metro: Okhotny Ryad
Tel: 692-4870
METIS Inter-Racial Children's Charity Fund
The mission of METIS is to improve the lives of mixed-race children through humanitarian assistance, education and training programs, and other avenues of social advocacy and support. It is the only organization of its kind in Russia. Current METIS programs and projects include computer classes; English and French language classes; donations of food packages to needy families; financial support to individual families; monthly ethnic gatherings for children and families excursions to theatres, museums, and other cultural venues; distribution of a semi-annual newsletter; holiday celebrations for children and families; donations of clothing, toys, and household items, summer camp sponsorship etc. Volunteers are always needed for the above programs and projects.
Tel: 343-0813
MiraMed Independent Living and Social Adaptation Center (MILSAC)
Since 1991 MiraMed has been assisting displaced and orphaned children in Russia, helping them make the transition from state-run institutions to society. The organization's social protection programs for Russian orphans include humanitarian aid, education and training at MiraMed Centers for Social Adaptation in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Uglich that help orphans re-enter society with the skills they need to live a safe and meaningful life. MiraMed's short and long term volunteer programs give adults from around the world the opportunity to live and work in Russia and make a personal difference. MiraMed founded the Angel Coalition, the first and now the largest, most successful anti-trafficking coalition in Russia whose members provide public education and training and support for the rescue, return and rehabilitation of trafficking survivors. There are opportunities to work with pregnant single young mothers, single moms with young children, teenagers, and young adults, or with a professional staff of teachers and psychologists.
Address: Kotelnicheskaya nab., 1/15, korp. B, office 52
Metro: Kitai-Gorod
Tel: 915-4614
Moscow Animals
Homeless dogs and cats are a big problem in Moscow. There are still no Western-style SPCAs in Moscow. The aims of Moscow Animals are to provide in-kind and financial support to a number of private and semi-private dog and cat shelters in Moscow and to assist the shelters and private individuals that rescue animals off the street in finding new homes for their furry friends. Volunteering at animal shelters in Moscow is possible, though operating conditions will usually be nowhere near those in Western countries. If you would like to adopt a dog or cat, please visit the dog and cat pages on the Moscow Animal website.
Tel: 763-0012
Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy (MPC)
The Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy funds and operates soup kitchens that serve hot lunches to hundreds of Moscow's elderly each weekday in a number of locations around Moscow. In addition to running soup kitchens, the MPC distributes groceries to African refugees and underprivileged foreign students and prepares food packages for families from METIS, an inter-racial children's charity fund. Volunteers are always welcome.
Tel: 8 499 143-5748
Nastenka Foundation
Nastenka Foundation is based at the Institute of Pediatric Oncology and helps children suffering from cancer by providing their families with medical, financial and psychological assistance. Nastenka tries to help by providing the families with financial assistance; raising and providing funds for the purchase of medications, prostheses and medical equipment; providing funds for the treatment of individual children; providing the children with additional nutrition; providing the children with clothing and toys as well as educational supplies; arranging parties and entertainment at the hospital and excursions for the long-term resident parents; and involving volunteers in all aspects of the Foundation's work. Nastenka is always looking for volunteers to assist with fundraising, distribution of donations and raising awareness about their cause.
Tel: 585-4101
"NAN" - No to Alcoholism and Drugs
Founded in 1987 by a group of psychiatrists who specialize in drug related problems, NAN now has more than 40 different chapters across Russia. The fund concentrates on developing, testing and approving various spiritually oriented methods of preventing alcoholism and drug-use, venereal diseases and AIDS. It works with abandoned "street" children. NAN has been a leader in NGO development in Russia and played an active role in preparing various federal and Moscow city laws regulating charities. NAN is a recipient of the Euro-American Award for Democracy and a Civil Society.
Address: Shvernika ul., 10a
Metro: Akademicheskaya
Tel: 8 499 126-3475
Operation Smile
Operation Smile is a leading international charitable medical organization which provides free, high quality, reconstructive facial surgery to children around the world born with cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities. Founded in the United States in 1982 by plastic surgeon Or. William Magee and his wife, Operation Smile has since operated on almost 80,000 children in 22 mission countries free of charge. Operation Smile donates medical equipment and supplies to in-country host hospitals. All Operation Smile doctors are volunteers, donating their time and services. Operation Smile has been recognized by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as the largest organization of volunteers in the world. Nominated by former US Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering, Operation Smile was awarded the first Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize in 1996.
Address: Smolenskaya pl., 3, Smolensky Passage, office 708
Metro: Smolenskaya
Tel. 933-8377
Russian Children's Welfare Association (RCWS)
The Russian Children's Welfare Society is dedicated to assisting disadvantaged Russian Children improve their lives. Our organization was formed in 1926 to assist Russian children and families who emigrated to the West. Today the RCWS focuses on helping to improve the lives of children at risk in Russia. During the 2007-2008, the Society disbursed approximately 2 million dollars in direct aid to children in Russia by supporting orphanages, homeless shelters, hospitals, rehabilitation centers for disabled children and schools. More than 20,000 children have been helped by the Society, and over 600 grants have been made to children's organizations.
Address: Bakuninskaya ul., 81/55, str. 1
Metro: Elektrozavodskaya
Tel: 8 499 261-1868
Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund (ROOF)
ROOF is a pioneer in providing high-quality education for children and young adults from Russian orphanages with programs aiming to eradicate traditional prejudices against this group by integrating them into society and enabling them to take care of themselves. ROOF needs volunteers to help with fundraising, translating materials, raising awareness about the problems faced by orphans in Russia, etc.
Address: Voznesensky per., 8
Metro: Pushkinskaya
Tel: 629-5100

Taganka Children's Fund (TCF)
Taganka Children's Fund supports over 1,200 of the most disadvantaged children and single parents in Moscow to prevent children from entering institutionalized care or ending up alone on the city streets. Taganka Children's Fund is always looking for volunteers to assist with fundraising, PR grant writing and development projects. Much of the work can be done in English.
Address: Bolshoi Rogozhsky per., 10, korp. 2
Metro: Marksistskaya
Tel: 911-7449
Therapeutic Riding Society
Therapeutic riding is a physical and a social activity that helps cure or ease many diseases and problems and that brings together the healthy and the handicapped. Equestrian therapy lessons include creative games and sports and contribute to a sense of well-being and self-reliance. The society is a non-profit charitable organization that aims at giving comprehensive help to disabled people. The program of rehabilitation and social adaptation provides riding sessions; rehabilitation exercises; lessons in clay modelling; embroidery; drawing; singing; pottery; ceramics; woodcarving; as well as playing sessions, lessons in basic horse grooming, stable keeping and horse tending. Members of the club regularly take part in national and international riding competitions. As the assistance the society provides to the disabled is free of charge, it relies on donations and grants from national and international organizations and private individuals.
Tel: 781-4668
United Way Moscow
United Way Moscow is a community-based, non-profit organization dedicated to improving people's lives in Moscow and eventually in Russia. The United Way marshals volunteer monetary resources to make a positive impact on the lives of children, teens and seniors. It also lobbies for government policies in Moscow and throughout Russia and promotes the concepts of philanthropic giving in Russia.
Address: Nizhnaya ul., 14, str. 1
Metro: Belorusskaya
Tel: 780-9717

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia
Founded in 1961, WWF is one of the biggest non-governmental conservation organizations in the world. WWF's mission is to stop the accelerating degradation of Earth's natural environment and to help its human inhabitants live in greater harmony with nature. Established in Russia in 1994, the main programs that WWF Russia is working on include forests, climate change, rare species, nature protected areas, ecological legislation development, education, and toxins. The WWF needs volunteer help in their office.
Address: Nikoloyamskaya ul., 19, str. 3
Metro: Taganskaya
Tel: 727-0939
Although we believe all of the charities listed above to be reputable organisations, please bear in mind that a listing does not guarantee the bona fides of the organisation concerned.
91.Moscow-at-a-Glance::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Moscow is a city of contrasts, and its fascinating history offers its inhabitants and guests a variety of adventures - business, economical, cultural, recreational and much more. Moscow is the capital of the largest European country and is situated in the heart of what is known as European Russia. Consequently, this capital city, being the epicenter of life for people of different nations and parts of the world, takes the best of east and west. Moscow has seen foreign invaders come and go. It was the capital when Mongol Tatars overran the Russian lands. The Crimean Tatars destroyed the fledgling city in 1751, as did Poles in the 17th century. During the war with Napoleon, three-quarters of the city was burned in the wake of the French occupation - but as a result, a stately Empire-era city arose in its place, still studded with the remains of the city's medieval splendour. Two further upheavals have helped shape the city's extraordinary appearance - the wave of "suprematist" monumental architecture undertaken during the "boom" period of the Communist era, and the corresponding oil-funded "rebuilding boom" that followed the fall of Communism, and continues today.
The City's Name
Moscow was named after the Moskva River (in Russian the name of the city is pronounced as "Mosk-va"). The origin of the name itself is unknown, although several theories exist. One of the theories suggests that the name originates from the ancient Finnic language, in which it means "dark" or "turbid". Yet another theory tells that the name comes from the ancient Slav language and means simply "wet". Either way, the etymology of the word is related to water.
Geographic Area & Size
The size of the city is about 1100 (425 sq.mi), with the central part of the city - over 800 (309 sq.mi) situated inside the Moscow Outer Ring Road.
Location, Streetplan, and Arterial Road Scheme
Moscow is located directly at the centre of European Russia at the northwest segment of Russia's most densely developed and populated region. The Moskva River crosses through the middle of the city and is itself a tributary of the Volga River.
Like the cross-section of a tree with its yearly rings, Moscow has grown outward from the Kremlin since the 12th century. There are five concentric "rings" that shape the city's streetplan - the most central being the former moat of the Kremlin, Moscow's medieval citadel. Beyond the Kremlin, the oldest ring is the Boulevard Ring Road; closest to the center, it contains the Kremlin within it, and the oldest part of the city. The Boulevard Ring is not a complete ring, but more a horseshoe shape with both ends terminating at the Moskva River. A middle ring road, the Garden Ring (Sadovoe Kol'tso) forms a closed circle around the downtown areas - a massive 6/8-lane highway that carries the huge bulk of Moscow's traffic, and at rush-hours becomes a gigantic circular stationary gridlock of frustrated motorists.
The city's Outer Ring Road ("MKAD" - the Moscow Circular Car Road) diverts intra-national traffic away from the city centre and was intended as a "city boundary for the 21st century" - but the city keeps expanding and some new settlements that are located outside of the MKAD also count as Moscow. The MKAD is located about 28 km (7.4 mi) from the city center and is 100 km (62 mi) long. The newest ring is called the Third Ring Road, once again forming a circle, running between the MKAD and the Garden Ring, conveniently connecting some of the densely populated but not so central parts of Moscow. Most of the Third Ring Road is built as a flyover.
Moscow city: 10.5 million (as of July 01, 2009)
Moscow region: 6.7 million (as of January 01, 2010)
The official population of Moscow slightly exceeds 10 million, but as in so many other world cities, the actual number of the population is much bigger. The whole Moscow conurbation is probably home to nearer 15 million - the discrepancy is due to official "city limits" that fail to encompass the new housing estates on the outskirts; former suburban towns which have effectively been "swallowed" by city-creep; and a huge unrecorded transient population of visitors, short-term visitors, migrant and seasonal workers, "unofficials", semi-legals and illegal immigrants, on whom there are no official stats.
The vast majority of Muscovites are ethnically and culturally Russians - well over 80%. As the country's most affluent city (unofficial estimates claim that 80% of the country's wealth is in Moscow) it is a magnet for newcomers wanting to further their careers and get the high-paying jobs on offer - many of the Russians living in Moscow have moved here from elsewhere in the country, and "native Muscovites" have a certain pride about having been born in the city.
Moscow is home to many other nationalities, especially Armenians, Georgians, Asiatic Siberians, people from the Caucasus regions and many others whose families migrated to the capital during the Soviet era, when it was all just one large country. Their cultures and languages, and especially their cuisines are all part of the rich melting-pot of Moscow life. Native-born Muscovites often have a pronounced local accent which marks them out, and which is frequently the butt of jokes made about the capital's population throughout the rest of the country.
It ought to be mentioned that there is no great love for Moscow among many Russians from other cities - who habitually associate the city with the imagined misrule and economic inequalities they blame on Moscow and its rulers. In fact, this is a historical tendency - exactly the same was said of St. Petersburg when it was the capital in the 19th century.
Moscow has a humid continental climate. The average temperature of the year is 5.4 degrees Celsius (°C), with an average temperature of -9°C in January and +18°C in July. Moscow's climate really consists of two extreme seasons: winter and summer. Spring and fall are often negligibly short.
Average temperatures are based on 30 years observation period. Table values are in degrees Celsius (°C). T,°C
Monthly average
Variations Jan
92.Driving in Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Driving in Moscow
General information
There are over 3 million cars in the city on a daily basis. Recent years have seen a significant growth in the number of cars, which has lead to traffic jams and unavailability of parking space. Driving in Moscow can be a daunting experience for the uninitiated. Traffic accidents (and resulting deaths) are more numerous that in North America and most European countries - despite the fact that there still are fewer cars). Russian drivers regularly ignore traffic lights, road signs and traffic regulations as well as pedestrians, so you have to be very careful and drive defensively at all the time. Random stop-n-checks by the Traffic Cops are regular, and you need not have committed any kind of irregularity to be (legally) pulled-over in this way.
Many Russian drivers have not obtained their driving license in an official way - it is, unfortunately still relatively easy to "buy" a driving license in Russia. For all of these reasons, many expatriates choose not to drive in Moscow. They often make use of a driver provided by their employee, hire a private driver, or use public transportation.
Moscow Road System
Road conditions in Moscow are not too bad but they get worse as you leave town. Generally little attention is paid to paving, maintenance and roadside facilities. Moscow has a complicated road system with three major ring roads: the MKAD or Moscow Ring Road, which goes all the way around Moscow; the Garden Ring which encircles the city center and the Third Ring in-between the MKAD and the Garden Ring. There is also a smaller half-ring road (half because it doesn't form a closed circle), which is called the Boulevard Ring and is located in the city center. The city center consists of a complicated network of smaller streets and lanes, many of which are one-way streets. The Fourth Transport Ring is to be built in the future.
Documents to Carry with You
Drivers must always carry the following documents with them:
Passport (foreigners must also have their original Russian visa and migration card)
Driving license
Registration certificate
Motor vehicle insurance
A Power of Attorney if the car does not belong to you. If you are driving on office are, the Power of Attorney will normally only be valid for several months at a time and must be renewed on a regular basis.
Technical inspection card
Things to Keep in Mind
Many street signs are in Russian only and finding as address can be tricky. It is better buying a good Moscow street atlas, preferably a larger one that shows all individual buildings. You can also now obtain reliable GPS devices covering Moscow and surroundings.
The whole streets can be closed off when the president or another important person is expected to drive by. Rubevo-Uspenskoye shosse, Kutuzovsy prospect and Novy Arbat are especially prone to these situations, as are the roads to international airports if a major dignitary or delegation is arriving or leaving.
You should take travel routes to and from work into account when looking for an apartment or house in Moscow.
The GIBDD (State Inspection for the Safety or Road Traffic) is the Russian traffic police. Formerly called GAI (State Automobile Inspection), they are still referred to as such by many. The GIBDD is a separate police entity and has nothing to do with the regular Russian police. A traffic police officer is commonly referred to as a "gaishnik". Despite the official difference between the GIBDD and the Militia, their emergency phone number is the same - 02.
Arbitrary checks by traffic police are frequent. They can stop you to check documents, make sure your technical inspection card has been renewed, etc. While fines for minor violations, such as not wearing a seatbelt, are extremely rare, other violations, such as crossing a solid white line are subject to hefty fines (by Russian standards). Technically, you can also be fined for not having a first-aid kit or a fire extinguisher in your car.
The GIBDD frequently stops drivers on weekend and Monday mornings for alcohol checks. If you fail the breathalyzer test, you will be required to give a blood sample for further analysis. In such instances you want to include one or more sterile syringes in your first-aid kit. Procedures for paying fines are subject to frequent change. Any GIBDD officer must introduce himself (there are almost no female GIBDD officers in Russia) with his title (e.g. sergeant) and his last name upon request, he must show his badge.
Driving Licence
To be on the safe side, you should obtain an International Driver's Permit (IDP) before coming to Russia. Foreigners staying in Russia for less than six months can use their national driving licence, but must have the licence translated into Russian. The translation must be notarized. Foreigners intending to stay in Russia for longer than six months must obtain a Russian driving licence.
Normally any foreigner wishing to apply for a Russian driving licence must provide the following documents:
His/her passport and valid Russian visa with the OVIR registration stamp
A medical certificate (available from any major health clinic)
His/her national driving licence, a notarized photocopy of the licence, and a notarized translation
If the original (national) driving licence is still valid, the applicant only has to take and pass a theoretical driving test. If the applicant's licence has expired, he/she must also pass a practical driving exam before a Russian licence can be issued. Exams must normally be taken in Russian.
If you do not have a driving licence, you can obtain one in Moscow. However, in order to do so, you must be fluent in Russian: the theoretical and practical instruction is conducted in Russian. Some schools may allow you to bring an interpreter, but this may be difficult. Before enrolling in a local driving school, make sure that the school is recognized by the GIBDD and will register the students for the state driving exam. Getting a driving licence in Moscow is still quite affordable when compared to the West.
Obtaining a first-time driving licence in Russia involves enrolling in a local driving school, passing a medical test, going through two months of theoretical and practical driving instruction, and taking (passing) state driving exams. The exam is the same for both Russian nationals and foreigners, but foreigners have to take the exam in a different place.
If you are involved in an accident and there is serious damage to your or the other side vehicle(s) and/or people are injured, stay right where the accident took place - even if you are in the middle of a busy intersection - and wait for a GIBDD officer. You will either have to call the GIBDD yourself (possible only if you have mobile phone and you speak Russian) or ask somebody else (e.g. the other driver involved in the accident, your office, your friend to call them. Do not expect the GIBDD officers to speak English.
To report an accident, call the police at 02 and provide them with all details of the accident (location, number and kind of vehicles involved, injuries, etc.) If necessary, call an ambulance at 03. Remember that leaving the site of an accident in which someone was injured is a criminal offense.
If the damage is small, you may settle the dispute with the other involved party on the spot. Many people prefer doing so as filling a police report even for a traffic accident can be a major nuisance in terms of lost time and formalities. Bear in mind that repairing a foreign car in Moscow can be expensive. If the damage is extensive, you must wait for the GIBDD. If you leave the scene of the accident without a detailed, written report from traffic police, you will have no chance of recovering money for damages to your and other side vehicle from your insurance company.
If you decide to involve the GIBDD in an accident, they will draw up a detailed accident report that will include sketch of the scene. If you do not speak/read/understand Russian, call your office and ask for an interpreter to be sent to the site of the accident as soon as possible. You will be asked to sign the accident report, but you should not do so if you do not understand what it says; you will need it for your insurance company. It may be wise to very discreetly take down the officer's name and badge number.
Note that it can take a long time for the GIBDD to arrive at the scene of an accident - even if the accident is causing major traffic problems. Provided that no personal injuries were reported, the officers often don't seem to in a hurry. However, once they arrive, they are usually quite good at handling the situation. If you are hit by another car and that car drives off, do not chase it. Stay, call the police, and file the report. Disputes over accidents have to be settled in court.
On July 1st, 2003, mandatory car insurance was introduced in Russia. According to this new law, every car owner must have an insurance policy certifying that he/she is insured against third-party liability. However, as this mandatory insurance policy only provides coverage up to certain mount and does not include coverage for car theft and vandalism, it is advisable to purchase additional (voluntary) insurance. Ideally, you should purchase both mandatory and voluntary insurance through the same company.
Licence Plates
Most cars in Moscow have white licence plates with black letters. Red licence plates with white numbers and letters are reserved for diplomatic cars. A "CD" on such a licence plate stands for "Chef de Mission Diplomatique", a "D" for diplomat, and a "T" for "Trade". Blue licence plates with white numbers and letters are reserved for Russian officials and the police.
Traffic Jams
Moscow heavily suffers from the traffic jams. Many people have even missed their flights because they didn't plan on getting stuck in traffic on the way to the airport. Major traffic jams occur regularly on all larger thoroughfares leading into and out Moscow, as well as on the ring road mentioned above. Traffic is particularly heavy going into town on weekday mornings and to the suburbs on weekday afternoons and evenings. The Garden Ring (Sadovoe Kol'tso) suffers from traffic jams all day long, although they are usually worse from about 8.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. and then again from about 4.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. on weekdays.
Late spring to mid-autumn is dacha season in Russia. The outbound dacha traffic starts early Friday afternoon and can last well into Saturday morning, with the return traffic starting Sunday afternoon and often lasting into the late night. Monday mornings are also problematic during this season as many people go to work straight from their dachas, therefore, if you live on or along one of the large highways leading into/out of Moscow, expect to face this problem on a weekly basis for about five months every year.
Another problem related to the dacha season are the so-called "podsnezhniki". These are drivers who do not touch their cars all winter long. The word means "snow-covered" and stems from the fact that many drivers leave their cars outside covered by snow throughout the winter. These drivers and their cars can be a traffic hazard because the cars are old and because many of these people do not drive at least half the year and are out of practice come spring.
Parking is another consideration if you own a car. Since cars can be the target of break-ins in Moscow, it is important to have a secure parking space, which can be very difficult, particularly if you live in downtown Moscow. Many streets and lanes are very narrow, and you may not be able to park your car in front of or in the yard of your residential building, or - for that matter - your office. Things get worse in winter when snow piles up on the sides of the street.
Some apartment buildings have a small parking lot where parking spaces are allotted for tenants. If possible, negotiate the parking space at the same time you negotiate your apartment lease. Some of the newer buildings have underground garages; others have guarded yards. Residential complexes, such as Pokrovsky Hills and Rosinka, have private garages.
Buying a Car
Unless you are a fully accredited foreign diplomat, it is very difficult and expensive to import a car to Russia. In many cases your moving company will not be able to assist with the import customs clearance of your car, and you will have to pay very steep import duties.
If you can not live without a car, you can purchase one in Moscow. However, several difficulties are involved in this. If you have a foreign passport and want to buy a car, you can register the car in your name, but you will have to de-and re-register it each time you receive a new Russian visa. The other option is to register the car in a Russian friend or colleague's name and then have that person provide you with a general Power of Attorney allowing you to drive and sell your car.
You can either purchase a new car or a used vehicle. In either case make sure you purchase the car from a reputable car dealership. If you want to purchase a used car from a private individual, have it checked very thoroughly at a good car service station before buying it.
Also keep in mind that it will be difficult for you to re-export a car from Russia (unless you are a fully accredited foreign diplomat).
If the car is registered in another's person's name, you will first have to sign a sale contract with that person (so that you can prove that the car is actually ours). You must then re-register the car in your name and de-register it before it can be exported from Russia. You will also have to carefully check what the requirements for the import of motor vehicles in your destination country are.
Before winter arrives, have your car protected with extra undercoating and fitted with heavy-duty batteries, heavy-duty shock absorbers, and winter tires. Do not wait until the first snow - that's when most drivers remember and lines at service stations will be very long. Have your car checked on a regular basis. A number of good car maintenance services are available in Moscow. Many of them specialize in one or more vehicle brands (e.g., Volkswagen or BMW).
A gas station is called a "avtozapravka" or "A Ze Es" for short. Gas stations are almost not-existent in the city center, particularly within the confines of the Garden Ring. Therefore, if you live in the city center, make sure you know where the closest gas stations are located. You should only fill up at reputable gas stations, such as BP (British Petroleum), TNK (Tyumen Oil Company), Yukos, or Lukoil.
The price for petrol in Russia is still significantly lower than in Western Europe and North America. Most Russian cars run on 92 or 95 petrol; foreign cars normally run on 95. Since there has been an increase of Russians driving foreign cars, this type of higher-octane petrol is readily available.
Technical Inspection
All cars on the road in Russia have to undergo a regular technical inspection, called a "tekhosmotr" in Russian. Currently, cars that are under five years old have to be inspected every two years; cars that are over five year old have to be examined once a year. The last number on your car's licence plate indicates the month in which your car must undergo the inspection. For example, if the last number is a 9, your technical inspection will be due in September.
The process is a bit complicated for people who do not speak Russian. Unless you know exactly what needs to be done, ask a driver of someone from your office to help you. If your car has passed all tests successfully, you will be issued a plastic technical inspection card, called a "talon tekhosmotra". Whoever is driving the car must carry this document with him/her at all times - along with all other necessary documents. Failure to undergo the technical inspection and/or not having the card may result in confiscation of your car or at least a heavy fine.
If you are caught driving while intoxicated; refuse to take an alcohol test; cannot produce your driving licence, your car registration papers, the documents confirming ownership of the car, or a valid Power Attorney; have illegally stopped or parked your car in a non-stopping and non-parking zone; or if your car has faulty brakes or a faulty steering system, traffic police can impound and tow your car. If your car is towed, you will have to pay a fine for the offence you have committed; pay for the towing costs; and pay an hourly fees for the time your car was impounded. These costs can amount to 10,000 Rbs or more very easily, and you will need cash to pay - no cards are accepted and there are no ATMs at the "Special Car Park". If you are not present when the car is towed, you may find it very difficult to retrieve/find it later.
Winter Driving
Driving in Moscow in winter can be a tricky and dangerous affair, especially if you are not used to such weather conditions. If you have never driven on snow, slush, ice, you may want to take a few driving lessons with an experienced driver before hitting the roads on your own. Due to huge piles of snow lining the sides of streets and yards, parking in winter is even more difficult than in summer months. Whereas a street may have two lanes, it may be reduced to one lane in winter, again because of the snow. Driving through small streets in the center can become very difficult, and cars going in opposite directions often get stuck because nobody is willing to back up.
Things to keep in your car during winter include a good heavy-duty snowbrush, a defroster for locks, and a roll of paper towels in case condensation builds up on the windows inside the car. You should also carry an extra canister of anti-freeze liquid in your trunk at all times.
Do's on the Roads
Do carry all required documents with you (along with your passport, visa, and migration card). Traffic police can make stop you anytime to check your documents. You are obliged to carry the original documents with you at all times - photocopies are not acceptable.
Do make sure that you have a first-aid-kit (including a sterile syringe, which is not mandatory), a fire extinguisher, and a sign for emergencies in your car. The traffic police can fine you if you fail to produce any of these during a roadside check.
Do drive on the right hand side of the road. This takes some getting used to when you are arriving from a country where driving is on the left.
Do drive defensively.
Do adhere to the speed limits of 60 km/h (37mph) in built-up areas and 90 km/h (55 mph) elsewhere.
Do fasten your seatbelts at all times. While regularly ignore buckling up is mandatory in Russia, you can be fined for not wearing a seatbelt. You can also be fined if your passengers are not wearing seatbelts.
Do turn your headlights when going through a tunnel.
Do look out for potholes - they can cause serious damage to your car. They may also cause drivers to weave dangerously in attempt to prevent damage to their cars.
Do stop when the GIBDD (traffic police) motions you to do so. (This can be a patrol car, but more usually a pedestrian officer at the roadside with a baton). They can stop you just to check your documents. Failure to stop can have very serious consequences, including being fired upon by the officers (who have the right to do so).
Do watch where you park in the center of town. Cars may be towed away or clamped.
Do be careful where you leave your car at night - break-ins do happen. Do not leave anything lying around the car. Put things that must stay in your car into the trunk.
Do make sure that your car is properly insured through a reputable insurance company. Carrying the Insurance Certificate with you at all times is a legal requirement.
Do remain flexible.
Do keep your license plate clean - you can be fined for a dirty/illegible license plate.
Do Not's on the Road
Don't drink and drive! Russia has a 0.3 pro mil in blood (0.15 with a breathalyzer test) alcohol policy for drivers and police are very strict about this. The GIBDD has the right to check your blood alcohol level on the spot. 0.3 pro mil of alcohol is about one bottle of light beer, but remember that alcohol effect different people in a different way. The more well-grown the person is, the faster alcohol digests. So, you never know if you have exceeded the norm or not. It is better not risk.
Don't turn left or do a u-turn unless this is clearly specified. You must drive until the next U-turn sign, no matter how far it is, to turn around, then come back and make the right turn.
Don't ever cross a solid double white line - you can have your driving license revoked for several years for doing so.
Don't turn right on a red light - this is illegal in Russia.
Do not allow children under the age of 12 to travel in the front seat.
When approaching circulatories ("roundabouts") incoming traffic has priority over cars already on the circulatory, who must give way to them. This is a considerable difference to many other countries, so take note.
Children Venues
93.Stary Angliisky Dvor (Old English Court)  
Stary Angliisky Dvor (Old English Court)
Constructed in 15th century. Used to be a
residency of the English Moscow Trading
Company and later of the British Embassy.
Medieval interiors.
Open: 10:00-18:00.
Closed: Mon, the last Fri of each month.
Please check our Phone Directory for more data on Children's Goods.
Please check our Phone Directory for the full data on Beaches.
Please check our Restaurant Guide for the full data on Kid-Friendly Restaurants.
97.Kronwerk Cinema Lefortovo  
Kronwerk Cinema Lefortovo
98.Vnukovo Airport Playroom Areas  
Vnukovo Airport Playroom Areas
Children under 7.
99.Chocolate and Cacao Museum  
Chocolate and Cacao Museum
Excursions (15 people) only.
Advance appointment.
Open: Mon-Sat 09:30-18:30.
Closed: Sun.
100.Sheremetevo Airport Playroom Area  
Sheremetevo Airport Playroom Area
Rooms for mothers with children (free).
Children under 5.
101.Tchaikovsky Cultural Center  
Tchaikovsky Cultural Center
102.Public Museum of Moscow Metro  
Public Museum of Moscow Metro
Excursions by advance appointment.
Open: Mon 11:00-18:00, Tue-Fri 09:00-16:00.
103.Gorky Moscow Art Theatre  
Gorky Moscow Art Theatre
Box-office: 12:00-15:00, 16:00-19:00.
104.Bolshoi Theater  
Bolshoi Theater
Box office: 11:00-15:00, 16:00-20:00.
105.Domodedovo Airport Playroom Area  
Domodedovo Airport Playroom Area
Rooms for mothers with children (free).
Children center.
Animators (daily 08:00-20:00).
106.Armoury Chamber  
Armoury Chamber
Collection of gold and silverware,
ceremonial weapons and arms,
carriages, horse ceremonial harness.
Sessions: 10:00, 12:00, 14:30, 16:30.
107.Russian Costume Museum  
Russian Costume Museum
Excursions in English are available.
Open: 09:00-21:00.
Phone Directory
71th km of Yaroslavskoye sh., to Sergiev Posad, then follow the the direction sign to Uglich, 30km along Uglichskoye sh., from Sergiev Pasad follow the direction sign to Pansionat Buran.
109.Sergey Ershov, Attorney-at-Law  
Sergey Ershov, Attorney-at-Law
Legal services for individuals: Litigation in Real Estate, Insurance, Losses, Damages, Injuries, Private Debts; Labour Attorney; Family Lawyer (Marriage Contracts, Divorce in Russia, Division of Property); Criminal defense; Legal consulting in the Real Estate (Leasing, Purchase) and Insurance (Cars, Real Estate, Life). Registration Nr 77/9326. For further information please follow the link.
110.Lada Holiday  
Lada Holiday
Drive from MKAD along Pyatnitskoe highway in the direction of Solnechnogorsk, at the filling station UKOS drive straight, after Sokolovo follow the direction sing to Solnechnogorsk, watch for Trusovo direction sign and turn left passing village Polezhaiki and drive along the main road up to the T-shaped crossroad and follow the direction sign to Lada Holiday.
More than 2,000 daily flights to over 200 countries and territories, time-definite delivery options, up-to-the-minute tracking, and expertise in customs clearance regulations.
Most Beauty Salons boast tanning booths or beds and tanning cosmetics. So, please, check them up too.
113.Independence Group  
Independence Group
Audi, BMW, Ford, Volkswagen, Land Rover, Jaguar, Volvo, Mazda, Ford and Peugeot dealership. Multiple locations.Web: www.indep.ruE-mail: info@indep.ruAudi Center Moscow
114.EVO Impressions  
EVO Impressions
Emotions as a gift. Gift certificates for exotic spa procedures; diving with a personal instructor; go-carting, a master class in pool with current world champions; romantic dinners in unexpected locations; a real familial shield; flying a fighter jet; skydiving; various activities for a large group; interesting family weekend options.
115.Fiesta Park  
Fiesta Park
25th km of Yaroslavskoye sh., turn to Krasnoarmeisk, 17 km to Tsarevo village, turn to the left and follow the direction sign.
116.Morgan Stanley Ltd.  
Morgan Stanley Ltd.
Since 1994, Morgan Stanley has been building relationships and expanding its product offerings in Russia. Morgan Stanley did not leave Russia after the 1998 financial crisis, and its uninterrupted presence has fostered trust and credibility with key governmental and corporate decision makers. In addition to its long-existing representative office, Morgan Stanley has recently established a local trading platform and opened a Russian subsidiary bank in October 2005 allowing it to provide a full suite of financial services to its clients in Russia.
Most Fitness Clubs boast of their own tennis courts, so check out there too.
Helpstar is the easiest, fastest, and most secure way of booking on-demand home services, such as residential cleaning and dry-cleaning delivery. The seamless booking process only takes a minute – simply select the required services and options, and instantly see the total booking price and time availability. Bookings can be made via English language website or mobile app, and can be paid for either in cash or with a credit card.
119.Credit Europe Bank  
Credit Europe Bank
Many locations throughout Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
120.American Express Bank Ltd.  
American Express Bank Ltd.
Many locations throughout Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
40th km of Rublevo-Uspenskoe sh., pass Zvenigorod in the direction of Golitsyno, drive across the bridge (R. Moskva) and turn right, drive 17 km along the main road and follow the direction sign to Traktir Alesha.
122.Dom Knigi (Book House)  
Dom Knigi (Book House)
Foreign literature department. Many locations throughout Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
Open from 9:00 until 21:00 daily, from 10:00 on Sat, from 10:00 until 20:00 on Sun.
26th km of Novoryazanskoe sh., follow the direction sign to Bykovo, drive 13 km, drive along Zhukovsky up to Y-shape fork in the road with the airplane MiG 21 in the center, turn left, and after the railroad crossing turn left again, drive 200 m more.
124.Raiffeisen Bank Austria  
Raiffeisen Bank Austria
Many locations throughout Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
125.Bank of Moscow  
Bank of Moscow
Many locations throughout Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
Many locations throughout Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
127.Home Credit & Finance Bank  
Home Credit & Finance Bank
Many locations throughout Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
128.Full List of English Schools and Nurseries   
Full List of English Schools and Nurseries
Children Venues - Schools and Kindergartens
64th km of Dmitrovskoe sh., watch for Volen direction sign and turn left, drive across the bridge (R. Yakhroma) and turn right, follow the direction sign to Volen and Aerosoyuz.
130.Imperial Park-Hotel & Spa  
Imperial Park-Hotel & Spa
39th km of Kievskoye sh., after the bridge follow the direction sign to Pervomaiskoye and move to the bridge, then drive 1 km, watch for Troitsk direction sing and turn left, then drive 3 km more and after Rogozinino village find Imperial Park-Hotel & Spa.
Books in English and other languages. Audio books. Art venue, style of the American Barns & Nobles. Multiple locations throughout Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
132.Sovietsky Conference Hall  
Sovietsky Conference Hall
Contact Anna Poverennova at
133.Senezh Lake  
Senezh Lake
Senezh Lake is one of the cleanest and quietest places in Moscow region - you are forbidden to use motorboats on its territory. On the beach there's everything needed: from an ice-cream to boat hiring, and even kite-serf-club "Senezh" ( Here you may take a lesson of kitting. Fishers are welcomed to hire outfit and catch a pike or just buy it from some lucky. To attend this beautiful place, go to Podsolnechnaya train station (from Leningradsky railway station), then by bus 25 or 30; or drive to Solnechnogorsk, then turn to Timyanonvo at the police post - your destination is a 65th km of Leningradskoye sh.
134.Absolut Bank   
Absolut Bank
Absolut Bank was established in 1993 and since 2007 is a member of a major international financial group KBC (Top-5 in Central and Eastern Europe). The Bank offers a wide range of banking services including deposits, VIP banking, free consulting on personal finance management etc. English-speaking managers are available. Absolut Bank has an extensive network in Moscow, the Moscow Region and 23 other regions of Russian. ATM network exceeds 2000 machines in Moscow and other cities of Russia conveniently placed (including the metro stations). Please find the appropriate location on the: web site.
135.Bank of Cyprus  
Bank of Cyprus
On October 31, 2008 the Bank of Cyprus Group acquired an 80 percent stake in Uniastrum Bank for $567 mn. Established in 1899, the Group is a major international holding commanding leadership positions in the banking and financial services sector in Cyprus and Greece and over 30% of the domestic banking market. As a result of the transaction, Uniastrum’s charter capital increased by $50 mn. The Group’s purchase of an 80% interest in the Bank remains the biggest investment in the Russian banking sector by a Cypriot or Greek financial institution. The transaction was finalized once permission was granted by the central banks of Cyprus and Russia, as well as by Russia’s Antimonopoly Service. On November 19, 2008, against the backdrop of official talks between the Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev, and the President of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, Uniastrum Bank and the Bank of Cyprus Group signed a Memorandum to implement a joint three-year (2009-2011) SME lending program in Russia worth 15 billion rubles. Many branches in Moscow. Find the appropriate on the web site.
Dining Out
Restaurant under the glass dome on the roof of the trading center. Splendid view on Moscow-river, embankment and Novy Arbat.
137.Costa Coffee  
Costa Coffee
Multiple locations. Details on official web-site.
138.Il Patio  
Il Patio
Multiple locations. Details on official web site.
139.Chikho Noodle Bar  
Chikho Noodle Bar
Anna Akulich, the former director of Novikov Group, opened a Chinese noodle bar. In the menu there are noodles of three kinds: udon, rice and buckwheat. Beef in sour-hot sauce, chicken or vegetables - seven options in total. Our hero is very fond of shrimp chips, kimchi and green beans with sea salt. Different kind of spring rolls. Special passion feeds on the Kowloon chicken, eggplant in sweet and sour sauce, and Shanghai pork chop.
140.Planet Sushi   
Planet Sushi
Multiple locations. Details on official web site.
141.T.G.I. Friday's  
T.G.I. Friday's
In the mood to dine in a plank walled saloon-style restaurant with a genuine metal-lined ceiling? Then this is the place for you. Step right up and get your no holds barred, rustic, Americana kitsch. Basic American fare going for about 25% cheaper than at the Starlite, unfortunately the food isn't quite as good. Still, not a bad deal and the management did comp my underdone burger. Multiple locations. Details on official web-site.
The large and original pizzas are loaded with toppings but will set you back about $20 bucks. The rest of the items, which include sandwiches, a variety of international entrees, soups, salads, etc. are surprisingly fresh and satisfying as well as pretty thrifty. The coleslaw is a simple treat with added cumin seeds and the "killer" brownies are packed with chocolate chunks. To order online click here.
Delivery only.
143.Mumiy Troll Music Bar  
Mumiy Troll Music Bar
A music bar right in the heart of Moscow, within walking distance from the Kremlin. Open 24 hours. The Mumiy Troll Music Bar in Moscow is part of Ilya Lagutenko's (frontman of Mumiy Troll band) project for an international chain of live music bars. The first of these has been successfully running in Vladivostok since 2011. It's a great place for meeting friends and having a good time.The house specialty is Pacific cuisine, including Pacific whelk, sea cucumber, laminaria, fernbrake sautéed with meat and veggies pacific style and other delicacies. The international bar offers a unique selection of Asian drinks such as Korean beer and soju, Chinese lagers and Japanese whisky. Meals are available 24/7, including early breakfasts. Free wi-fi. Menu in Russian and English. Get taxi service. Live performances by Russian and foreign bands every night. DJ programs. Superb live sound and a broad selection of performers from the Asia-Pacific region and Russia's Far East. How to get here: Metro "Okhotny Ryad", "Teatralnaya", follow the direction to hotels The Ritz-Carlton and National, Ermolova Theatre, Central Telegraph. Just 1 min walk.
Russians who learned their English with the help of Jane Austen (or more likely the smouldering Colin Firth as Mr Darcy) probably know Cheapside best as a London location sneerily dismissed amid the snobbish banter of the Bennett sisters. The issue was its connection with ‘trade’, a lowly pursuit inappropriate for persons of true wealth and breeding, even though they had no scruple about buying goods in what was once London’s most fashionable shopping street.
Today, of course, trade has fewer negative connotations outside of the blue-blooded aristocracy, and the commercial hub in Belaya Ploshchad is one of Moscow’s more conspicuously busy business districts.
As a result it’s also picked up a cluster of bars and cafes – including a few representatives of Moscow’s burgeoning gourmet fast food trend – to feed the Stakhanovite shock troops of the new economic era in between vigorous sessions on tablet and Mac.
Cheapside Josper Bistro, the latest addition to the Coffee Mania portfolio, fits this branding well. The decor, described in one Russian magazine as ‘restaurants for successful men’ is loft-inspired: the kitchen, like at the owners’ Italian restaurant Barmalini, is open, although staff slaving over a hot grill make for a less exciting show than the dough-juggling pizza chefs at the partner venue. Elsewhere its bare brickwork, a retro fan and a large communal table dominating the room with a scattering of side tables for slightly more privacy. The restaurant seats 52, but there’s an expectation that people will hunker down together rather than isolate themselves on individual tables.
The menu is similarly unpretentious: meat and fish, cooked over an open flame. Pride of place goes to the burgers, with a wide assortment of diverse approaches to the old beef-in-a-bun formula. We went for the Mexican (700 RUR), which was a surprisingly unspicy affair, even allowing for Russia’s general wariness of hot food. However, this wasn’t really the aim: instead of powering up the chili and letting rip, the chefs aimed to create a more subtle combination of flavours with a hint of fresh lime giving an unexpected lightness to the palate. Not quite as expected, but pleasant. The meat was good, among the best I’ve tried in Moscow and certainly tasty enough to encourage repeat visits to explore the other burgers on offer. Prices might be uppish compared with the old favorites at Starlite Diner or Beverly Hills, but there’s more imagination in how the burgers are put together and – on this evidence, at least – the service is a bit more attentive than can sometimes be the case as the longer established chains.
Unlike most burger joints in town, sides are ordered separately; there’s no standard burger set slapped down whether you like it or not. So, if you want fries, make sure to order them for an extra 150 RUR. Coleslaw (250 RUR) is one of the options and it also opened up one of the great mysteries of Russian kitchens. Cabbage and carrot are key features of local food. Few Russian salads are complete with a generous slathering of mayo. So why is it that coleslaw, that stable of carrot, cabbage and mayo, always comes out very different here? This one was an impressively healthy, low fat option with just a hint of mayo to keep it together. Once again, not bad, but not quite as expected.
There’s also a small grill menu offering meat and fish. The salmon (800 RUR) here was a success, the duck (800 RUR), sadly, was unavailable. Vegetarians who don’t eat fish might struggle to find much on the menu to attract them, however. There’s no veggie burger and meat-free options are limited to a few salads and starters. This is a kitchen that knows what it wants to cook and is happy to focus strongly on that alone.
That straightforward ‘I know what I like’ approach is part of what makes Cheapside work. Rather than try to cover too many bases, it focuses on a small group of dishes that it can do well and chases a clientele that will go for it. Ultimately Cheapside Josper Bistro is a very masculine place to eat. Maybe it’s the plate-glass surroundings of Belaya Ploshchad, redolent of the thrusting world of smart-suited business conquistadores. Maybe it’s the meat-heavy menu. Maybe it’s the TV sport quietly playing in the background.
Whatever, this isn’t really the kind of place you’d pick for a girlie cocktail night even if there are three basic cocktails listed on the menu. Indeed it’s probably not the place you’d pick for a night out anyway. This has the feel of a lunchtime haunt; a cut above fast food or the dubious merits of the bizniz lanch, without burdening itself with the pretentions of a full-blown restaurant experience. That’s where it performs most strongly, and is likely to be the root of its future success in this location.
145.B2 Summer Terrace  
Too hot to cook at home? In Uzbekistan they know about hot, so letting them do the cooking seemed like a good idea. Although many Moscow restaurants serve their regular menu outdoors in summer, B2 have gone one stage further, and set-up an Uzbek outdoor caff in their courtyard - for the authentic outdoor sizzle. This is not trying to compete with the ritzy upscale Uzbek eateries in Moscow - this is honest, Uzbek street-cafe food, priced to persuade you against cooking at home this evening. There is no hokum Uzbek decor - decent and respectable beer-garden patio furniture, and- all the tables are under cover, to save you and your supper from a sudden drenching in the Moscow monsoon season (aka "summer"). You can slob-out shamelessly here and no one will mind - shorts, t-shirts, trainers, whatever you feel comfortable in, bring the kids, it's the perfect antidote to posy dining.
The menu's strong, although not long, on Uzbek standards, and it's all cooked fresh by the guys over there behind the rotisseries. Think of it as a bar with a substantial food menu, and you've got the right approach. The portion-sizes are ideal for snacking, so you can follow central-asian custom and order yourself a selection. There is, however, no pressure on you to order any food at all - if you like you can just drink, so if you just fancy a "beer with a little something", you're in the right place.
We pitched straight in with some pastry appetisers with our drinks - Samsas are like small individual naan-breads, cooked in the tandoor oven, with a little spicy lamb, and go for a mere 20Rbs (you'll want to order at least a couple of these). If an attack of the munchies whilst waiting on some grim station has led to a lifetime's hatred of Cheburek, think again - the cheese ones (60Rbs) here are delicious and light, and not at all greasy.
Plov (pilaff) is the traditional Uzbek staple, and Uzbeksky Plov (150Rbs) didn't disappoint - a generous helping of nice lamb mixed into the tasty rice & veg mix. To provide a little backbone to the meal, we ordered some shashliks - which are priced here per skewerful. It's more fun to mix-and-match, but you ought to reckon on 2+ skewers per person if you're thinking in terms of a main course. The Lamb (90Rbs) was suitably juicy, although the Salmon (90Rbs) was cold when it arrived. The Vegetable shashlik (80Rbs) really needed marinating, the vegetables were quite dry. There are some nice sauces to have on the side - although it's a Georgian interloper on an Uzbek menu, the tkemahli sauce (sour plum) is the perfect partner to the lamb. A plate of rather dull salad and some green herbs made up a rather half-hearted vitamin element to the meal.
There's a good selection of fresh juices (around 140Rbs), although the equally-tempting cocktails don't quite hit the spot - we had a disappointing Mohito (210Rbs) and a very sour Capirinha (150Rbs), and wished we'd stuck to beer or classic drinks.
This is real Uzbek food as served down any alley in Bokhara - tasty, simple, substantial, unpretentious and cheap - and ideal on any occasion when that's what you're after. The (piped) Uzbek music is quiet enough to talk easily, and the service is fast. English-language menus are promised this week too.
The Expeditsia restaurant which opened recently amid a good deal of publicity, is tucked away in an undisturbed part of the city, just off Solyanka.
The chef, Leon Ek, is of Night Flight fame, which has long boasted a tasty, inexpensive business lunch. But that's another restaurant-and another story.
Expeditsia is on the first floor of a pre revolutionary building. Once inside, you are struck by post-modern decor. As you make your way through the pine trees to your table, you absorb the subtle design and at the same time wonder why there is a helicopter at one end. Suddenly, you are aware that you are walking over a glass floor with a miniature river scene laid out below.
I ordered the Siberian Delicacy starter. My colleague chose the smoked Omul salad "Baikal". Which, we were informed, is a fresh water fish found only in Lake Baikal. It came very nicely presented with cedar oil but unimaginatively garnished with potato salad. My Siberian delicacy was a variety of small concoctions, burbot liver and damsons with aquavit, smoked fish and other salads. Again, well presented - but I was expecting the food to be as edgy as the decor and was a little disappointed.
They stock a reasonable selection of wines - Both new and old world. We settled on a bottle of Chilean Chardonay.
All of five tables were occupied the evening of our visit. Passable for 7pm on a Tuesday evening but the interior is so eye-catching that the lack of fellow diners doesn't distract you from the experience.
So, why the helicopter? The menu reflects the fare that can be hunted on a typical expedition to the Siberian wilderness, where you're either dropped off by the chopper to wage war on the wildlife, or you can hover overhead, picking off the game. , ducks, rabbits, wild horse etc. - are the critters likely to come into your cross hairs - and almost all are represented on the Expeditsia menu.
Pheasant and young wild horse followed. The pheasant was terrific. Very tender and cooked slightly pink. It rested on a lightly fried potato cake and was presented with cauliflower and celery purees with a ribbon of delicious pear, cognac sauce. It looked and tasted delightful.
I went for the roasted young horse from Yakutia. It was a bit of an attention-grabber served on a skewer and wooden board and looked as if it had been broiled rather than roasted as stated on the menu. The sauteed mushrooms in duck fat, were simple button mushrooms. At these prices I would have expected wild mushrooms at least. There was a celery, herb and cheese thing too. It was Okay, but not very impressive.
A lemon pistache mousse arrived for dessert. Pleasantly done but the pistache mousse had a little too much gelatine and was rubbery. The chocolate mousse was better. Nicely chilled and beautifully contrasted with hot parcels of baked apple wrapped in pastry.
The service was professional and attentive. And if your Russian is like mine (patchy), the staff will work hard to ensure things go smoothly.
The menu is well balanced and interesting, even though it leans heavily on raw fish, especially the starters. There are enough soups to justify a separate section to accommodate them and the main courses include various wild animals along side more familiar offerings such as steak and salmon. Creative desserts such as frozen cranberry with warm fudge and a homely Siberian berry pie are featured.
The bill was not cheap - around $130 US for two.
Overall, the decor upstaged the food but I understand that Leon the chef was off that night. Is Expeditsia just quirky, vying for attention in the over crowded Moscow restaurant scene? Probably, although its always going to be tough to make the food as appealing as the concept. Who can resist the lure of exploring Siberia and hunting in a helicopter? I recon they should sell those tours at reception - just a thought!
Robert Gollings is a
Consultant Chef in Moscow
The Golden Road to Samarkand...
Last week I was discussing mid-price restaurants with the editor of The Expat Site - who said that it was hard to find many that were really reliable. So off I went to Sindbad, where I had to eat my words, and a very dodgy Caesar Salad (180 rbls). Actually as a chicken mayo salad, served on chopped lettuce and sprinkled with grated Sovietsky cheese it is a quite decent appetiser - it just isn't Caesar Salad. Luckily our other starter, Piratsky Salad, (120 rbls) was delicious - a super-fresh mix of green veg and tomatoes in a chilli dressing that kicks butt.
The whole summer menu is geared towards the outdoor setting. Sindbad's oriental garden is set within a high wall - authentically like an Uzbek caravanserai courtyard, and has semi-open dining snuggeries for privacy in smaller groups, as well as tables fully in the open. The star attraction is food hot off the charcoal grill, and with this Central Asian cuisine, decor, and (ehem) authentically diffident service, it's easy to feel transported to downtown Bukhara for a few hours. Especially as the area's crawling with cops, due to MID being around the corner...
I stuck with house specials and took Salmon off the grill as my main course - a bargain at 150 rbls, although the portion size isn't huge. Sveta was unlucky twice running, and after a dud Caesar salad, got Chicken Wings (150 rbls) as a main that managed to be greasy outside whilst dry inside, and no hint of spice or sauce with them either. The side-order of Persian KooKoo was disappointing - instead of the fluffy egg pudding came a greasy omelette.
Sveta was so miffed at this point, having nibbled at the wings and discarded them, that we ordered a portion of Tiger Prawns off the mangal, and these were tip-top at 450 rbls. Coinciding with the garden lighting and water-run coming on, the evening took an upward turn from here.
For dessert we got Grilled Banana (120 rbls) and Grilled Pineapple (150 rbls) with liquer, which they brought nicely presented on a large dish, and these were undoubtedly the highlights of the evening - crisp outside, succulent inside, without added unwanted sugar to spoil the natural taste.
With liberal draught Baltika beer, some wine, a cocktail and great espresso we paid 1900 rbls for two. Without the emergency prawn reinforcements and the kookoo, we could have dined for 1300 rbls. For outdoor summer eating it's a super location - their garden is a real treat compared to many Moscow al-fresco operations. Stick to the Uzbek house specials and the grilled options, avoid the half-arsed pseudo-Russian/Euro choices and it's mid-price outdoor dining you'd go back to again.
When I was asked to do a review for Kolbasoff, mostly I heard one thing: "beer" in the form of a question. I said "Oh, yes!" Then I went online to find out more about what I would be having to eat that night, which was, as the restaurant's name not-so-subtly implies, sausages. Now - I am an omnivore at heart, and I eat meat, but to tell you the truth, the whole idea of sausages, especially of what potentially goes into them, sort of scares me a little. But then, at the bottom of the restaurant's website, I was met with a challenge I could not refuse. Kolbasoff claims that their sausages are "real manly food" and that in the future men are going to start craving more and more sausages. They hasten to add, however, that women may also eat sausages as long as there's beer to be had. Man's food, you say? Food for men? Well, I'll just see about that!
Kolbasoff has two main halls. We were seated in the larger hall, which features a large bar near the entrance and segues into several sections of booths and other tables by the window. The lights were dimmed (drinking beer in brightly lighted places is never a good idea) and the far wall features a collection of various beer bottles and mugs from around the world. The design looks new and spotless, which made me a little suspicious - I'm more accustomed to much darker, dustier and not-so-spotless watering holes. But Kolbasoff is no mere watering hole! It is a restaurant, with food even! And so we set about checking out the menu. I was presented with the English version of the menu, while Mr. Polly requested the Russian original.
Upon opening the English menu, I saw that I was invited to order the "firm supper" and try "any firm sausage our restaurant." Firm sausage you say? Of course this meant firmenny, or the restaurant's own trademark delicacies, but it's always nice to see that there's plenty of firm sausage on the menu. I was bombarded with options and had no idea at all what to order! Should I try the "crust small triangle" or the "fried in crackers pork ears" for a hot appetizer? Or might I be better off with "the fried cheese tubules from the test"? Should I choose the "creamy cream soup" or the "wild mushrooms with creamy"? The choices were endless and baffling, so I cheated and looked at the Russian menu.
We decided to try the Kolbasoff salad, which is made of - you guessed it - sausages! And potatoes, pickles, beans, onions and radishes. We also ordered the meat carpaccio, which somehow appeared on our table as the salmon carpaccio, and the "beer shrimp" allegedly prepared in a "spicy mash." For entrees, we decided to try some nice firm sausage, namely Kolbasoff sausage platters #1 and #2. Number one is made with herbs and spices, while number was described as hot and spicy. It was my job to try the spicy dish since we all know that Russians can't really handle (or judge) true spicy hotitude.
We were served our first two beer selections (Paulaner Oktoberfest and Spaten Oktoberfest) with the carpaccio, shrimp and Kolbasoff salad all at once. As we somehow got salmon instead of meat (I guess myasnoye can sort of sound like lososevoye), I gave it to Mr. Polly since I don't dig fish too much. I did try it though. It was pretty salmony, and if you're into salmon you'd probably like it. Mr. Polly immediately began ripping the bug-eyed heads from several beer shrimp while I examined the Kolbasoff salad. All I could think of was "there is a bunch of sausage on this plate in the guise of a salad, and after that, they're going to give me "more sausage!"I wasn't sure I could eat all that sausage. I began to doubt myself. But then I remembered -men should not be able to have a food that is all their own! I must prove that women can also eat sausage! So I sucked it up and tried the salad.
Mind you, the Kolbasoff salad - at least on the English menu - is described as "piquant." This is a good salad to order for your Russian friends who think that black pepper is hot so that you can have a good laugh, because - actually "this salad is pretty hot' n' spicy!" It doesn't taste half bad, either. I enjoyed eating it. Slowly. Yet as someone who truly appreciates a nice piece of lettuce, I must say I think it's almost a sin to call this dish a "salad." I might even humbly suggest that Kolbasoff could stand to add some more lettuce-y items to their salad menu. Anyway, I enjoyed giving some to Mr. Polly after warning him "be careful, it's spicy!" He tried some and said "no it's not!" About three seconds passed before he was grasping for his beer. "Nevermind! It's spicy!" Since the menu claims the beer shrimp are cooked in a spicy mash, I wanted to know if they, too, were truly spicy. There was no mash, spicy or otherwise, visible on Mr. Polly's plate of beer shrimp, and while he said they were not spicy (which means not at all, he has a very low "spice" threshold), they had apparently been prepared in some sort of tasty sauce and he liked them a lot.
We ordered two more small beers while we waited for the entrees to arrive: Duckstein amber and Hofbroeu. I was unable to discern any difference in beer taste for a while after the salad, so suffice it to say that the Hofbroeu was Mr. Polly's favorite beer of the evening, while Duckstein was his least favorite. I will take a moment to note that Kolbasoff's beer prices range from 60-320Rbs (with options of 0.33L, 0.5L and 1L) with an average 0.5 beer price of 150Rbs. Their draught selection includes a variety of German, Czech and Belgian beers, and I must say I was disappointed to see that the only bottled beers were Corona (*ahem*) and some pretend beer with no alcohol. Why oh why, when there are so many different yummy bottled beers to be had?
Our entrees arrived as promised - two large sausages each with what I presume was sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, a couple of gherkins and a marinated tomato. I say that I presume it was sauerkraut only because I have never eaten sauerkraut before, nor did I eat much of it that night. While the Kolbasoff #2 was definitely not as "firm" as the menu had led me to believe, it was obviously very fresh and handmade. Although it was not fire-in-your-mouth-hot, it was indeed spicy and tasty. Mr. Polly was extremely pleased with his choice of Kolbasoff #1, and although he has never been to Oktoberfest or Germany, he assured me that it was the real thing: authentic German sausage. He also liked the sauerkraut and enjoyed referring to what the sausages resembled. We washed the sausages down with a third round of 0.33s - Krombacher and Altitude 6 (unfiltered). We finished the evening by sharing a delicious piece of almond cake, which thankfully had no sausage in it.
The place was pretty full at eight o'clock, mostly with men gettin' their sausage on. One table nearby was served with a beautiful plate of fresh crayfish. We also noticed that you apparently may bring small dogs with you, as one young lady did that evening. While I am not an expert and tastes do vary, I understand that the following information is very important for some expat men: I would say that roughly half of the waitresses were "cute" and at least one of the cute ones was "stacked."
The manager dropped by our table to let us know that Kolbasoff will be having one more round of Oktoberfest celebrations, complete with contests and prizes, on Saturday, October 2nd. The previous festivities on September 18th were a big hit and included many a beer-related contest; including breaking open a wooden keg of beer. It's going to be packed on October 2nd, so be sure to reserve a spot!
After some reflection, I must admit that although everything we ordered at Kolbasoff was very good and presented nicely, sausages just might actually be man's food after all. I cannot speak for all women; I can only speak for myself when I say, men, you may have your sausage. I will stick with beer.
Fruity Daytime Clubbing Experience
Having been briefed to specifically review Mio's food, rather than its music or ambience, I decided to make a reservation for lunch rather than in the evening in the hope that I wouldn't be distracted by the atmosphere and could therefore concentrate 100% on the food. I should imagine the place is really quite buzzing at night. Reservations are essential on Friday and Saturdays and recommended at all times for larger groups.

Mio, fashionable among the young trendy Russian set, launched itself as a DJ cafe, but is now trying to establish itself as a worthy eatery too. One method of food marketing they have adopted is a weekly mail out of lunch menus to regular customers, who also include diplomats from the nearby French embassy. Slightly apprehensive about hanging out in a nightclub during daylight hours, imagining dingy, smoky surroundings, I was pleasantly surprised by the light, fresh and clean restaurant area. The comfy sofa we collapsed onto was very welcome.
As lunch was scheduled for the Morning After The Night Before, Natasha and I were both in need of detox so ordered fresh carrot and apple juices (140rbl). We then studied the very extensive menu which includes summer dishes, meat, fish, pasta, salads and the inevitable standard page of sushi. The cuisine is mostly Italian and French (with the token Japanese) and it is perhaps worth noting that the menus are only in Russian at the moment, although they are in the process of being translated into English.
I sampled the Duck Salad with Pineapple (210rbl) which was fruity and yet light and filling. It included cranberries, lettuce and tomatoes and had that too-good-to-be-true yummy but healthy taste; always an unlikely combination and one I can never quite trust. Natasha opted for a Caesar Salad with Salmon (220rbl). The dressing was wonderful and the parmesan good, although apparently the salmon could have been a little less chewy.
I then chose Pork Shashlik (120rbl) which was deliciously tender and just the right size as the main course of a light lunch. I personally think garnish is a waste of time, but my shashlik was accompanied with the most exotic looking carrot gratings I've ever seen. They looked far too glamorous to actually eat.
Natasha's main course option brings me round to a common complaint of Moscow restaurant reviewers: Why can't the Muscovites leave sushi to the experts? Her tuna rolls (170rbl) were mediocre, while her salmon sushi (80rbl) and yellow tail fish sushi (210rbl) were really below average, and one even had to be returned to the kitchen with a comment that the fish may have been off.
I am loathe having to grumble about this because I honestly enjoyed my Mio meal and would like to recommend the place, however I do feel obliged to warn any potential patrons to avoid the sushi there.
My advice is to stick to the modern European options, and your experience should be good and definitely worth the slight challenge of finding the venue.
150.Chicago Prime  
I have seen the advertisements for Chicago Prime during recent forays to Starlite Diner, and Chicago Prime has been on my list of restaurants to check out. As it turns out, and not due to a miracle in cross-advertising, Chicago Prime and Starlite Diner are part of the same operating company. I have been a loyal fan of the Starlite Diner since 1998, so I welcomed the opportunity to review Chicago Prime.
Chicago Prime’s location is near Pushkinskaya metro station and not difficult to access by metro (especially) or automobile, but traffic can be heavy and slow on the boulevard ring. Chicago Prime is also open until 0500, so if you want late night steak, traffic is a relative non-issue. Parking is available behind a shlagbaum – even though we knew before arriving that parking was available, it was not readily available at 2000 on a Monday night.
The metro station is close to the restaurant and less of a headache. Rather, a more minor headache since Pushkinskaya is composed of three stops/stations with many exits. Follow the Strastnoi Bulvar exit signs, and you should come out of the right exit.
Access to headache-free WiFi has become a condition for my repeat business at restaurants and cafes in Moscow, especially expensive restaurants that cater to the expat community. Chicago Prime has headache-free WiFi, and it is convenient to keep up to speed on emails or just search the net.
The interior and atmosphere of Chicago Prime are appealing - that is, you can readily have a conversation over a normal sized table and the dining areas are big enough that you do not have to hear about how important the guy in the next table is, ex-pat or Russian.
Also, the music was, at least for me, a “make you smile” mix of Jimmy Buffet, Van Morrison, some Police, U2, and other songs that I knew. They also did not repeat and were not over thematic – i.e. crooning, loud Italian at a pasta place, annoyingly soft, artsy pafos music, or mega-repeat unknown, gibberish English language by unknown artists you run into at a lot of places in Moscow.
Chicago Prime also has a bar section that overlooks the boulevard with comfortable seating and offers food service as well. They have Happy Hour specials on weekdays from 1700 to 2000 – the current special is two for one drinks and 20% off the bar food menu.
Upon first glance, the menu at Chicago Prime itself may appear limited, but it is not. By this I mean that the main items are on one page – and each point of a great steak and seafood menu are well covered. You will not be at a loss for choices – like me, more than one entree will make your mouth water. Same for the garnishes crafted to complement your main entree.
However, as a warning – and actually a big plus for a Moscow restaurant – the portions at Chicago Prime are hearty, so plan accordingly when you order!
We started the night with a recommended currant-limonad (325 RUR for .5L pitcher, freshly made) that my dinner date absolutely had to try. I contemplated beer, but with an early flight out of Moscow the next morning, I really ventured outside of the culinary comfort zone with a freshly opened bottle of Coca Cola (120 RUR).
The English translation is Cowberry Lemonade, not the most romantic name, but do not be fooled. It was a stellar mix of fresh ingredients served on ice, and I highly recommend it. The other fruit drinks listed are also likely as appealing and flavorful, and 325 RUR for .5L of freshly-made juice is a good price.
Appetizers were a shrimp cocktail (690 RUR) over a vinaigrette type salad with a big Kamchatka crab claw, as well as Kamchatka crab cakes (750 RUR). The shrimp cocktail came with fried parmesan cheese slabs that were, quite frankly, awesome. Appetizers were flavorful, promptly arrived after ordering, and went well with the bread basket and flavored butter.
I was a bit tortured by which entree to choose since I wanted to go with a non-typical cut for me; I chose the Porterhouse Steak (3290 RUR). My dinner date had Maine Lobster (350 RUR per 100g / 2450 RUR total). For garnishes, we went with sauteed, caramelized onions (100 RUR), steamed asparagus with butter (490 RUR), french fries with truffles (290 RUR), and potatoes au gratin (390 RUR).
Steak was excellent and cooked exactly how I wanted it to be. The Porterhouse is what is termed “USDA CAB Aged Beef” – an involved curing process that locks in the flavors in a multi-step process over 45 days. The difference in taste was certainly noticeable. The potatoes au gratin were spectacular – to such an extent that the french fries were largely ignored as dinner progressed.
Maine lobster was excellent without reservations. The process was interesting since you are allowed to choose your own live lobster from the tank. A fleeting moment of playing God; I was not allowed to do the same for the bovine from whence my Porterhouse originated, however.
At this point we were satiated and dessert was out of the question, although the menu was beckoning. The waiter said that he would have the bartender mix up a non-alcoholic fresh fruit drink for us (500 RUR for two) that we would like. Think of it as liquid dessert – and it was off the chart excellent! The barman came over and relayed what was in it – ask for it if you are at Chicago Prime, with or without alcohol. I would characterize it as a strawberry cousin to a Pina Colada.
We took an order of cheesecake home that was the centerpiece of breakfast this morning. There was also a nice card in the bag thanking us for our patronage and wishing us to return soon – nice touch, and not seen often in Moscow, it seems.
Our final bill pushed 11,000 rubles without gratuity. Keep in mind that we did not drink alcohol – after all, it was a Monday – so your bill can climb quickly. At the same time, we had a few dishes upon the recommendation of our waiter that we would not have had otherwise, as well as our super after-dinner cocktail times two made by the Erik the Barman.
In short, I have only good things to say about our dining experience at Chicago Prime. Location is accessible, pricing as expected, food exquisite and superb service. I highly recommend Chicago Prime for business dinners, relatives in town that need to be wooed, or a nice experience for a couple.
151.Osteria della Piazza Bianca  
For me, as the Moscow evening weather cools and the days abruptly become shorter in October, the indoor restaurant season springs to life. This magical Moscow crossroads between long summer days and heavy winter coats rekindles a galaxy of warm memories of past cozy dinners. Thus, Osteria Bianca (Bianca) appeared on my radar with perfect timing for a dinner date during a favorite time of year in Moscow.
Bianca has an extremely convenient location if one is arriving by metro. It is crucial, however, to take one’s time to be sure to exit the Belorusskaya metro labyrinth correctly. Follow the exit signs towards Lesnaya ulitsa – ring line or radius line – and you will exit into a pedestrian only square. Looking straight ahead, Coffemania is to your right, Torro Grill and Starbucks are to your middle, and Bianca is to your left. As well, Bianca is very close to the Holiday Inn Lesnaya if you happen to be in Moscow and staying at this popular hotel.
Dinner was set for 7PM, and I arrived a few minutes early. Bianca was bustling with activity, and I could tell immediately that I was going to like spending time in this restaurant.
The dinner crowd was varied – couples on romantic dates, larger parties of friends meeting up, and several people sitting alone behind a laptop with dinner and coffee. In short, Bianca provides an atmosphere where nearly anybody feels comfortable immediately.
Throughout the evening, I was extremely impressed by the extent to which the head chef, Salvatore Barbara , interacted with all the tables seated. I have not had an experience in Moscow where I have felt that a chef has cared as much about making a customer feel comfortable and taken care of in a restaurant – kudos!
Before going to Bianca, I reviewed its website to understand the cuisine offered. I was not sure if I was to expect a Boston style oyster house as the name Osteria implies or a traditional European seafood restaurant. To this extent, while Bianca does offer Fresh Oysters (180 RUR each), Bianca’s menu is balanced and varied around a surf and turf theme. The menu also offers an array of pasta and pizza if you are looking for a faster turnaround or are short on time.
The dining atmosphere at Bianca balances informal and formal – that is, a person could be as comfortable having a light dinner and drinks with friends after work or formally entertaining guests. I found Bianca to have the perfect touch of lighting for a crisp autumn evening – a mix of “bright enough” lighting melded into a well thought-out interior color scheme, and not the horrible dull lighting as I have found the case in many higher end restaurants in Moscow.
While waiting for my dinner date to arrive, I ordered an Unfiltered Pauleainer Beer (330 RUR, 500ml) and Blue-finned Tuna Tartar with Goat Cheese (580 RUR). The tuna tartar was exquisite, with the fresh taste of the tuna complimented superbly by the toasted bread with goat cheese.
To be sure to have a hot dish on the table when my dinner date arrived, I placed a delayed order for Mussel in Mediterranea Style and Garlic Bread (350 RUR). This is a hearty dish of steamed mussels in a tangy sauce, garnered with cherry tomatoes and greens, and it arrived piping hot and with perfect timing.
To sample the menu and further delve into appetizers, upon Salvatore’s recommendation, we also ordered Salmon Taratara with Potatoes Salad and Sauce (390 RUR), Tomatoes Soup with Ricotta Cheese (250 RUR), and Broccoli Soup with Gorgonzola Cheese (390 RUR).
To wit, between the cold/hot appetizers and soups, Bianca has 37 offerings – so there is a great chance that you will find several items to your liking.
The salmon tartar was presented with caper mushrooms that complimented one of the best potato salads that I have ever tried in my life. To say that I was pleasantly surprised that a dish featuring potato salad could be so good would be an understatement. Both soups, as well, featured the perfect cheese for both – the tomato soup was a balance of hearty and tangy, and the broccoli was a rich cream soup thick on taste and texture.
We ordered main entrees upon Salvatore’s recommendation and wine upon the recommendation of the sommelier to complement. I ordered Duck, Veal, and Lamb Chop Grill Served with Grilled Vegetable and Mushroom Sauce (1100 RUR) and a glass of Argiano Red Wine (550 RUR, 125 ml) from Tuscany. My dinner date ordered Grilled Seafood,Ssalmon, Sea Bass and Tiger Prawns with Green Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes (1500 RUR) and a glass of Catena Chardonnay (480 RUR, 125 ml).
This was the first time that I have had duck in Moscow that proved to be a positive memorable experience – in the past, duck has been a disappointment, but Salvatore assured me that I would not be disappointed. To wit, the duck was fabulous – simply divine – and both the veal and lamb chops were excellent. The mushroom sauce went perfectly with the recommended wine as well.
The seafood entree had huge tiger prawn shrimp that were accompanied by succulent filets of salmon and sea bass. The chardonnay was the absolute correct light wine choice for the composition.
The portions for both main dishes were large and presented appealing value for the price. You would be hard pressed to find the same level of quality ingredients, flavor, and presentation at a similar price point in other Moscow restaurants today. Also, be sure to slow down and enjoy the entree offerings, as the desert menu offers very appealing choices.
For dessert, we had a difficult time deciding what to order – and were happy to take our time after large main dishes - so we chose the tact that variety is the spice of life with a troika of desserts. Tiramisu with Marsala Wine and Orange Zeste (350 RUR), Meringue Rolled Cake with Raspberry (390 RUR), and Sorbet Trio (200 RUR).
We garnered the desserts with Americano Coffee (170 RUR) and Japanese Linden with Chamomile and Lime Oil Tea (220 RUR).
The tiramisu was excellent – the right taste, texture, and sweetness. The meringue rolled cake, however, was one of the most memorable desserts that we have had at any restaurant in Moscow, ever. I forgot to inquire about the secret recipe, but – first and foremost – the next time that I am in the area, I will be sure to stop at Bianca to partake in a cup of hot coffee and meringue rolled cake. The sorbets were well matched to our coffee and tea and would be a nice, quick desert on a summer day.
The final bill was 7510 RUR, not including gratuity, and I consider that at that price level, Bianca offers a solid value proposition of somewhat informal dining with top shelf selection and execution. If we had not been doing a review, the final bill would have been closer to 4000 RUR, and that is an appealing cost for a dinner night out in Moscow.
With that being said, I recommend Osteria Bianca without hesitation and will return to this lovely restaurant, I am sure, many times in the future.
PS: I almost forgot to mention…be sure to try the degustive drink orangecello or limoncello to cap off your evening with a smile! We tried both, and they took the edge off the cool Moscow evening on the walk home. Highly recommended, and I do not believe that they are readily offered on the menu – you need to ask!
152.Ararat Cafe  
Sevan Up
The revolving glass doors closed hermetically behind me. Moscow's sticky heat was left behind as I entered the chilled air of the glassed atrium. Modernist elevators whisked the world's Great and Good to secluded upper levels with silent unquestioning obedience, at the soft-spoken command "make it so". The first job would be to make it past the guards. However, the strange absence of a body-check, x-ray scanner, or series of impertinent questions from some juvenile Rambo only reinforced my initial suspicions that we had passed through a wormhole in the time-space continuum. I passed-by a carpet deep enough to have swallowed me alive, gently congratulating myself on evading such obvious traps, and allowed myself to be engulfed in a massive sofa until my colleagues arrived. Around me citizens of other realms closed deals on their mobiles in a Babylon of languages. How few of them knew what I knew - that this massive complex had an Achilles - heel, which could be penetrated by myself and my colleagues on a secret mission that dwarfed the scale of their billion-dollar deals. We were going to lunch.
For those of you in civilisations who have not yet mastered time travel, I should reveal that fifty of your Earth years ago, a former Cafe Ararat stood on the same site. Its clientele were soviet bohemian writers and intellectuals, for whom the promise of far-off Caucasian mountains enshrined the furthest hope of foreign exotica afforded by Stalin's People's Paradise. Photographs of the former Cafe can be seen on today's walls. It's immediately obvious that this is no rural trattoria with bentwood chairs and mama slaving in a steamy kitchen - this is the upscale end of Armenian cuisine. It's not, however, a dumbed-down or homogenised version; authenticity and quality are overseen by Master Chef Samvel Minasian. Prior to taking up his duties in Moscow, Minasian was supervising banquets for Guests of State in Armenia, as Head Chef to President Robert Kocharian. His remarkable achievement at Cafe Ararat is to maintain the simplicity implicit in Armenian cuisine - which relies on superb-quality ingredients, all flown-in specially - but present them in a style befitting a 5* international hotel. The atmosphere is laid-back and informal - the dress code is smart-casual, and cosy sofas encourage longer lounging.
The tastes and aromas of Caucasian cuisine are dominated in Moscow by Georgian food - with which expats fleeing an overdose of sour cream are already well familiar. Armenian chefs have the same broad palette of flavours and textures at their disposal, but the results are pleasingly different. There is a little "bite" in the flavouring, but it's aromatic rather than fiery. All is reliant on the freshest ingredients - the strong suits of the Armenian kitchen are imaginative purees and melanges of spiced vegetables, succulent fish, and speciality grills - all accompanied by fine local wines produced in a proudly independent tradition.
And so, to our meal. Three of us sat down to lunch and in Armenian tradition, we ordered a meze selection of appetisers to share. If the dishes are unfamiliar, English-speaking assistance is at hand, with knowledgeable and enthusiastic insight into any dish on the menu - from portion-size to pedigree, each dish is explained with the passion of an art-historian, and with a view to their suitability as dining combination. We took several - you can adjust your selection according to your appetite, budget and available time, but a traditional Armenian meal should have the table almost collapsing under the quantity and variety served. If you like it simple, Traditional Armenian Eggplant Salad ($6) is luscious and rich, and what I especially liked was that it wasn't swimming in an ocean of cheap oil - a background aroma of light virgin olive-oil complemented the aubergines. The Selection of Smoked Fish seemed no pocket-pleaser at $22, but the giant portion of salmon, crayfish, fresh crab, and sturgeon is a meal in itself, and all excellent. Aveluk is an Armenian speciality -“ a spinach roulade cross-cut into elegant slices ($5). The Armenian cheese platter ($5) is much more interesting than it sounds, the cheeses are nicely contrasted for bite and texture. With all of this, of course, you must have Armenian flat-bread, lavash. If you can't decide, or there aren't enough of you to order a full spread of full-sized portions, Ararat will be happy to put together an Appetiser Selection based on your preferences.
The danger - as usual in Caucasian food -“ is to enjoy the sumptuous appetiser selection so much that by the time the main courses arrive, you're already on the retreat. Yes, sadly we made that mistake too, but in fairness, these are appetisers you'd happily gorge on until they were physically taken away from you. Assuming you are more prudent in your hors deoeuvres-munching than we were, you might profitably continue to the magnificent mains. Armenia is a land of lakes and rivers - its famous Lake Sevan is even pictured in a huge mural on the restaurant-s walls. Lake Sevan produces several kinds of trout, and Ishkhan trout ($23) is excellent. If you're watching the calories or fat intake, this comes steamed with aromatic vegetables and herbs, and it truly melts in your mouth. Kyufta ($18) is one of those dishes which could only come from a society which sets no price on preparation time - prime beef is first whipped, and then lightly poached into a sort of spiced meat souffle, served with an omelette garnish. However as a rule Armenian men don't like their meat overly mucked-about with, and Traditional Armenian Shashlik ($24) is exactly what you'd hope it might be - a gigantic portion of toothsomely grilled cuts, your choice of chicken, lamb or pork.
At this point we were forced to withdraw - we slunk away defeated. Diners of greater girth and determination might have proceeded further to a promising selection of innovative desserts, all retailing at $8 and unknown numbers of calories.
An excellent convention in this restaurant is the option to order wines by the glass. And not only the vin de table, but many of the wines in the cellar. Armenia is, after all, a country in which wine-drinking is an everyday pleasure, without the strictures of a sommelier's beady eye. We had a luscious dry light red, which partnered my fish very comfortably despite all conventions to the contrary. If you wish to spend more, you can delve into their cellar of Armenian (and other) fine wines. Armenian table-water is ideal on the side.
The service is immaculate - charming, welcoming, eager to share the pleasure of Armenian food with new friends. Mind-changing and an onslaught of capricious questions about the menu were handled with bilingual aplomb. But whilst the service is five-star, the bill weighs-in mid-priced, as part of a conscious effort to encourage non-residents into the hotel's exclusive environs - there's no punchy overpricing here. A final tip - whether or not you make it to the desserts, skip your post-prandial coffee or liquer here, and instead beam-up to their Panorama Bar on the top floor, for a super rooftop view (outdoors in summer) of downtown Moscow and the Bolshoi Theatre.
153.Chito Grito   
Hurray! The season of the shashleek is upon us! The weekend exodus of hordes of Muscovites, creating traffic jams as they head to and from their summer Dachas can mean only one thing: The smell of barbecued pork will pervade the country air for miles around! For those of us unfortunate enough to be stuck in the city, or for others who merely have an aversion to mosquitoes and grass in their food, the best way to satisfy the Shashleek urge is to head to one of Moscow's many Georgian restaurants. Last week I threw caution (and weeks of dieting!) to the wind, and opted for this urban version of the meaty feast.
As we all know, the wide variety of Georgian restaurants in Moscow ensures that both the quality of the food and the impact on the wallet (and the waistline!) can vary considerably, although it is generally possible to find good Georgian fare for very modest sums. With a prime location just off the Novy Arbat, it is no surprise that Chito Grito rates slightly higher than usual on the price scale, but did we get a juicier shashleek or a cheesier hachipuri for our money? Unlike the salad - the verdict was mixed.
Our hearts sank as we entered the restaurant and saw the all too familiar "table in a stable" type decor which seems to invariably define the Georgian dining experience. While I could ignore the cart wheel light-fittings and faux-rural wooden furniture, I chose to sit with my back to the stuffed yak's head which peered disconcertingly down onto the tables below. Call it "urban nonsense" if you will, but I like my dead animals stuffed with rice and mounted on a bed of greens, rather than suspended on the wall above me as I carve up their distant cousin for dinner. My companion and I eagerly diverted our attention from the decor to the (Russian language only) menu and were thankfully reassured by the wide choice of dishes on offer.
We selected some of the most traditional dishes in addition to a few of the house specials. Our stunningly beautiful Osetian waitress, elegantly dressed in traditional black gowns, was helpful and informative as she took our order, offering to start the preparation of our first courses while we continued to deliberate over our choice of mains. Much to our rumbling tummies delight, this system worked well, and our cold starters soon appeared with a steaming hachipuri hot on their tails.
The Green lobio with nuts (130Rbs) was tastier than many of the bland offerings I have tried in the past, but as usual, it was impossible to eat more than a few mouthfuls before tiring of the all too rich and thick consistency. The Chicken satsivi (190Rbs) on the other hand, was a delight to the taste buds: tender strips of chicken in a delicately spiced creamy sauce, chilled to perfection, providing a cool and refreshing dish perfectly suited to a warm summer evening. The Hachipuri (190Rbs) was served sizzling on a hot plate, and proved to be a fine example of this, one of the all-time favourites of Georgian cuisine. The Harcho soup (130Rbs) was nice albeit somewhat uninteresting; although the huge chunks of "melt in your mouth" beef which were to found hiding under the surface were a pleasant surprise indeed.
Being the self-confessed "cheese addict" that I am, the highlight of the dinner (and the ultimate halt of the calorie counting) came for me, in the form of the Fried sulugini "on a kesi" (120Rbs). Wow!! A "kesi" is a type of hot plate on which the strong and salty cheese is melted, then served bubbling and sizzling, ready to be scooped up with a spoon and eaten with such pleasure as is rarely afforded to cheese lovers in Russia! For those of you who have eaten a French raclette and wondered why you have to put up with the potatoes and sliced sausage, just to be able to have the melted cheese - then this one's for you! Believe me, it's sinfully good!!
Enough about the cheese! What about the meat? Well, we ordered a Pork shashleek (300Rbs) and a Lamb shashleek (450Rbs). The lamb was definitely the better of the two: It was tender and tasty, whereas the pork was overcooked and dry and tasted just like a chicken shashleek I had in Rostiks the other day! The portions were fair, and the sauces were tangy, though my favourite was the Adzhika sauce (70Rbs) which had more of a chilli kick to it. The fresh vegetable Georgian salad (250Rbs) we ordered to accompany the meat was an overpriced, disappointing bowl of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers - a boring array of vitamins, if ever I saw one! All in all - the main course did not live up to the promise of the starters.
We passed on desert (my guilty conscience suddenly got the better of me!) and went straight to coffees. As we sipped the rather good Turkish coffee (70Rbs) my companion and I decided that despite the substandard salad and pork (and of course, the aforementioned decor!), Chito Grito's good service, genuine Georgian recipes and reasonably sensible prices would leave most customers satisfied and coming back for more. And if it's a business lunch you're after, then I'm sure the 3 different options (140, 160 and 200Rbs) would be pretty hard to beat.
In any case: Forget the dacha! Forget the meat! Forget the diet!! I know where I'll be headed when I need my next fix of cheese.
Il Assaggiatore Piace il Ristorante “Assaggiatore”
The title of this review is the extent of my ‘polite’ Italian, bit and pieces of which I mostly learned from my former Italian-American boss of my restaurant days years ago, Mr. Castiglione – a tall mustached man from the southernmost point of Italy, Calabria, which might as well be Sicily. A good man and a good boss, and with memorable habits such as walking around the kitchen near closing time with a loaded pistol noticeably stuffed in his back pocket. He always said he had a good reason for it, and when I finally I asked him I didn’t bring up the subject again. He taught me other useful words not for print, but they always came in handy back then to secure one’s place in the kitchen hierarchy. In exchange I told him about great Italians that shared his last name such as Giovanni and Baldassare Castiglioni of the Renaissance, to whom he strangely bore a faint resemblance.
Assaggiatore literally means “the taster,” and in this case that was me. Assaggiatore has an excellent location, right on Ostozhenka between Kropotkinskaya and Park Kultury metro stations. For the review I decided to invite my first restaurant review companion, a Russian-Irish girl who has proven to be the best zamestitel Assaggiatore yet.
Despite having a prime location, the restaurant seems to be one of those places that is overlooked. We visited on a Saturday night, but had the place nearly to ourselves. However, the attendance that night did not reflect on the food our service. Even though Assaggiatore share the same street with top-end dining spots such as Vanil and Vertinskiy, the restaurant has a more modest approach of a nice Italian cafe with a pleasant white-washed exposed brick interior and wooden chairs. The menu features a broad range of Italian dishes from traditional Italian antipasta appetizers (carpaccios of salmon, tuna, and squid 350-420 Rbs), thin crust pizzas (480 Rbs), variety of pastas (390 – 650 Rbs), seafood (such as Chilean seabass in rosemary sauce 830 Rbs or grilled fish of your choice), and meat dishes from a wood-fired oven such as lamb with herbs (860 Rbs), beef Florentine (950 Rbs), and filet-mignon (1050 Rbs). The menu also had an excellent selection of creative side dishes, such as spinach and pine nuts (160 Rbs). The restaurant, alas, also offers a sushi menu. I swear there must be some city ordinance requiring sushi in all restaurants in Moscow.
We began with the wine list of Italian, French, and Chilean wines ranging from 180-220 Rbs a glass and – predicting I may sample some of the seafood on the menu - settled on a glass of Italian Pinto Grigio. The bilingual menu provided some good reading material, so to start off we immediately ordered focaccia with tomatoes (130 Rbs) to hold us over. Inexplicably we received a focaccia with pesto which looked and smelled so good we argued about sending it back, an argument which I later regretted I won as the pesto version did look superior in comparison.
It was tempting to sample something from each menu category, but seeing we only had one evening we decided to focus on the salads, soups, pastas, and deserts. Of the salads, my dinner date chose the avocado and grilled prawn salad (380 Rbs), which was a nice summer dish, albeit light on the avocado. Amongst a tasty selection of soups I selected the asparagus cream soup with crab meat (390 Rbs), which included bits of fresh asparagus but would have benefited from more crab meat to add more flavor to balance the combination.
The choice of a main course was challenging amidst some very good options. Noting some good seafood selections on the menu, but not wanting to walk away from an Italian restaurant without trying their pasta, I settled on the spaghetti with mussels (550 Rbs) which had an excellent sauce of garlic, fresh basil, parsley, and tomatoes. The mussels were traditionally served in the shell and the portion was quite generous, but I found the mussels themselves to be a bit chewy and perhaps not as fresh as one would find in Italy. Seeing we are in Moscow, I allowed that as a pass. The pasta itself tasted homemade and well-prepared al dente, something one does not often find in a country where things are often over boiled. Even though I was pleased with my dish, I was a bit envious of my date’s gnocchi in “Assiaggiattorre sauce,” which was a nice fresh mushroom and vegetable ragu sauce, a unique change from the standard cream sauce gnocchi usually find themselves in.
After our main courses we were both indeed already full, but could not help but order desserts – Italian panna cotta (170 Rbs), and a dish of Italian pistachio and chocolate ice cream (80 Rbs a scoop) followed by Italian espressos (110 Rbs).
For some post-meal exercise, we were graciously given a tour of the restaurant and discovered a beautiful summer terrace in the back (too cold that day to enjoy it), and a basement VIP room suitable for banquets (what’s a respectable Moscow establishment without a VIP room?).
Service was prompt and polite, food quiet satisfactory, and atmosphere pleasant. Worthy of a return trip, and also an excellent spot for lunches given its prime location. Assaggiatore also stands out for a wonderfully diverse menu to encourage repeat customers. However, my main suggestion to the restaurant management is to drop the sushi from that diversity and be a true Italian restaurant. I can only imagine what Mr. Castiglioni would have said to me had I proposed added tuna rolls to the menu of where I worked; I certainly would not have mentioned it around closing time.
I am not sure how to start in reviewing Dome and have been struggling to find “the good” in last night’s experience. As another reviewer on wrote about another place – “I wanted to like it, really I did.” That is how I feel about Dome precisely and my utter indifference grows with each minute.
To wit, this was not a vividly unforgettable experience or horribly forgettable experience. It was, quite simply, a comparative waste of time. Dome is indifferent to me and its customers; I too then am indifferent to Dome. If I were a paying customer, it would have been a very difficult situation since I would have felt good paying about a quarter of what the bill came to.
Dome has a tricky location for the casual diner, expat or Russian. I scoured the website that is really a blog – funky, trendy, edgy, cool, but still a blog. No narrative about “how to find us” – just a link to Google Maps. For those who have been to the Strelka neighborhood of Moscow, you then know that there are many dining establishments. For those of you who have not been to Strelka, it is on the island in the Moscow River on the grounds of a former and gargantuan Soviet chocolate factory.
Funky, trendy, edgy, cool neighborhood. However, I challenge anybody to find a restaurant whose signage is not good, no website narrative, and has one of the horrifying “/” addresses all too common in Moscow. Add a “stroenie” plus another “drob” to the address, plus icy Moscow streets, cold wind, and darkness, and you will probably be as charmed as we were in looking for it.
Note: If you do go there, look for Dome’s competitor, Zarya - the huge of red sign with your back to the Kremlin/Cathedral that you cannot miss. As you get closer, look for the – again - huge sign for the former chocolate factory - the small, unlit sign for Dome is below. You are near.
After finally finding Dome, I still had an open mind. Walked in, liked the lighting, smiled that there was a fireplace, and quickly were shown seats at a corner table with padded bench seating. So far, so good – I liked this place. Enchanting first impression of a warm oasis of high-ceilings and soft light in the middle of the Moscow winter with fast Wi-Fi.
Menus arrived with no explanation or even an attempt at one. Not a big deal – I thought that a laissez -faire approach could be expected in what a person, from the website/blog, would understand as an artsy restaurant.
For drinks, we went with raspberry and feihuoa lemonade (450 RUR) and a bottle of cold Corona for me (330 RUR). We chose a mix of appetizers – hummus with fire-grilled chicken (230 RUR), Spanish bread “krostini” with smoked tomato (170 RUR), mixed salad with smoked duck breast (390 RUR), and mixed salad with warm roast beef (390 RUR). I also ordered a bowl of a beef stew (440 RUR).
I love hummus and it pains me that good hummus is difficult to find in Moscow. I am not talking about five star, tell your friends how much you pissed away on smashed chick peas – just good hummus. Dome’s hummus was, and is, not good – I put salt in it to give the chunks some sort of taste; the result was salty chunks of blandness. Krostini were good. Smoked duck breast was good. My mixed salad with roast beef was very tasty. The beef stew was an unusual flavor, but it was unusual in an appealing way.
The flies, however, that appeared en masse with the food, were not good.
Entrees were skinless Murmansk cod fillets with mashed potatoes (420 RUB) for my girlfriend and a beef steak with french fries (1100 RUB) for me.
My girlfriend loves fish, seafood, and all other dining fare associated with water. She took 2 bites of her cod. I asked her, “How is it?!” since I was still finishing up my soup. She put her fork down and said, “Honestly, it’s horrible. Maybe some salt will give it some flavor.” Like my hummus, adding salt just gave birth to a salty plank of blandness. Better to leave it for the flies, and that is what she did, and that says a lot for somebody who loves fish and seafood.
My steak arrived shortly thereafter. In fairness, it was a nice cut of meat and good. I cannot say that I would not recommend it ceteris paribus. However, a restaurant needs to understand presentation – a small steak, regardless of how good it may taste, on a big plate at 1000 rubles makes the buyer think he or she is getting, well, a raw deal.
Dinner was followed with dessert. For me, 50 grams of vanilla ice cream (140 RUB) and a piece of orange pie (250 RUB) for my dinner date. The ice cream was literally 50 grams, no more. Two spoonfuls – and, voila, finis. My girlfriend took one bite of the orange pie and said, “I’m full. Do you want to try it?” After my two spoonfuls of ice cream, yes, I did want to try it. After trying the pie, I would have preferred to eat either my red napkin with the remnants of my ice cream or a nerf football with powdered sugar since the pie was only marginally better than those options.
Final bill was 4440 rubles. If I would have been a paying customer, in short, I would have given a damn and really not wanted to pay.
When you sit and are eating your steak and watching 10, 11, 12 flies Mississippi crawl over your date’s uneaten food, repeatedly, it turns you off as an active diner, let alone providing fertile ground wondering, “If there are this many flies here, where/how the hell has my raw cut of meat been prepared?”
Therein is the danger for any restaurant with flies – the behind the velvet kitchen curtain unsanitary impression that flies create. I do not go to restaurants, regardless of how funky, trendy, edgy, cool, or close proximity to Rai, to wonder about what awaits me when I get home or wake up in the morning. To wit, no vomiting or prolonged restroom sessions today – apparently the flies were harmless.
At the end of the meal, I wanted to talk to the manager, in a nice way, not “I am going to scream and stomp my feet way”. She said that, yes, she was aware that I was doing a review and aware that there was a problem with flies in that corner. Then…why the hell did they seat us there? And…why then was your wait staff non-existent?
Again, with management and wait staff indifferent to me, I can only be the same – indifferent to Dome and regretful that we wasted an evening there, in addition to the time taken to write this review.
156.Oldich Dress & Drink  
According to the PR blurb, Oldich's name is partly intended to evoke the ethos (although not, quite, the spelling) of London's Shoreditch, while carrying an air of retro chic. Adverts for staff have demanded a bilingual Russian-English work-force with a keen interest in classic fashion and quirky originality. And the "Dress and Drink" bit handles the two facets of a venue which is a vintage clothes store up top, and bar below. With an active program of live music and DJs, plus themed parties and literary evenings, it's pitching for the same crowd which currently sees the Krasny Oktyabr hub as its preferred point of pilgrimage - news that is likely to distress as many as it delights.
Setting prejudice aside, though, the bar/restaurant section has plenty going for it - once you get in. Arriving in the evening, when the upstairs shop is winding down, the bar possibly takes its 'hidden' vibe a bit too seriously - you'd be forgiven for missing it completely from the street, and even after gambling on plunging into the shop, there's scant evidence of what lies beneath. The management likes to reference Alice in Wonderland and its magical rabbit warrens; those of us who aren't acquainted with Mad Hatters may struggle to keep up.
Still, a willfully obscure location didn't dampen the popularity of the late, lamented Proekt OGI, and like that bunker venue, Oldich has character to burn. With heavy wooden tables and comfortable armchairs, it's a roaring open fire away from being the perfect place to gather for an intimate tete-a-tete over exclusive spirits and exotic cigars. Admittedly the sense of intimacy was heightened - uncomfortably so - by being the only diners on a dreary March Monday which seemed committed to denying any hope of spring returning, but even on a busier night it seems likely to be cozy rather than cramped. Plus, for a larger group, there's a separate room with a full-size dining table. There's serious attention to design detail as well: the crockery has been sourced from vintage markets in London, while the toilets feature retro-erotica wallpaper and voluptuous framed fabric over the pot - go pay a visit, and you'll see what I mean.
Given its Cool Britannia ambitions, it's only fair to note that the overall effect was reminiscent of one of my favorite restaurants in my former home town. OK, so it's not exactly fashionable Shoreditch, but the retro-fashion and underground feel carries well from the Thames Estuary to heart of Moscow. The menu, too, has more than a hint of the gastro-pub about it - and in the best sense of the word. Naturally, a few bar-room staples endure, with burgers and fish'n'chips taking their place despite protestations that the food here cannot be found elsewhere in Moscow. But there's also an honorable mention for a pleasing selection of Mediterranean finger food and some inventive desserts to complement them. The bruschetta with beetroot, artichoke and parmesan was a curious beast: at its base it could hardly have been more Russian, with creamy, mayo-slathered beets that might have come straight from the local stolovaya; the topping of parmesan and artichoke, meanwhile, was a taste of another world - almost literally - offering a fresh waft of Italian flavor. It's also one of relatively few wholly vegetarian options on the menu, although the "wine plate" of tempting tidbits works as a sharing dish as long as someone is willing to hoover up the Parma ham.
For mains we picked out the fish and chips (sufficiently meat-free to suffice) and the duck leg. The former was a genuinely decent attempt at a tricky Brit standard. The chips were actual chips, rather than fries, although they might have benefitted from slightly longer in the fryer; the fish came in a recognizable batter, and despite appearing as a handful of fishy goujon rather than the more traditional single large fillet, worked as well as any attempt at this dish I've seen outside of its homeland. The duck was well-cooked to the point where it slipped easily off the bone as the first gentle probing of a fork, but might have benefited from a more astringent partner than a serving of herb-spattered mash. A side portion of fruity sauce helped, but could have gone a bit further, perhaps.
The highlight, though, came with the dessert menu. Fig in a dark chocolate coating, studded with crunchy grains of sea-salt, was a perfect combination of sweet and savory: a simple idea which could easily become a classic. But the star turn was the pear tart with rosemary ice cream. Leaving aside the slight sensory confusion at confronting a pot of something which looked like it should be mint-choc-chip flavored and tasted entirely different, this was a triumph. The ice cream was a delight - fresh, unexpected and well-matched to the residual sweetness of the tart.
Another pleasant surprise was the bill - the whole thing, accompanied by a bottle of cider, came in at less than 3,000 rubles (albeit helped by a couple of freebies from the kitchen, including a flagon of iced tea). That seemed to give the lie to some of the complaints on about high prices - generally speaking they seemed to be in line for this kind of market in Moscow. Admittedly, there's no sign of a cheap beer - it's all imported Brit brews at around 300 rubles a glass, rather than fizzy Baltika at 120 - and the clothes store proudly insists that its prices will be kept relatively high to distinguish "vintage" (a premium market) from second hand (with its slightly shabby connotations).

All in all, despite the hipsterish pretensions, Oldich has plenty going for it - and its downtown location makes it a great place for a pre-party gathering, whether you're planning to stay there all night or head on to another venue later.
157.La Bottega  
Wine + Russians = does not compute. Of course it shouldn't be so, because Russians have loved the fruit of the vine for centuries, the Tsars themselves owned vineyards – although Mikhail Gorbachev dug them up and burnt them, and was rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for doing so. Russia even produces decent wines, although you have to look hard for them (the Krasnodar Krai is a rewarding place to begin your search – where Australian winemakers are now guiding the process). Yet despite all this, it's hard to think of the Hollywood movie where the Russian character's favourite tipple is an elegant Barolo. Wine is – in the final analysis - an alien pastime for many Russians – a fact to which La Bottega are neatly attuned. Even the blackboard of specials chalked-up outside is in English. Bottega is aimed very clearly at an expat clientele, plus those Muscovites who hanker after their summer holidays in Andalucia as they trudge through the snow. The staff are English-speaking and greet guests cheerfully in English. If you're an expat in Moscow, then this place was made for you. How well was it made? Well, let's see....
The location at White Square – outside Belorusskaya Circle Line Metro – is almost purpose-made for La Bottega's target market, scattered at the feet of the Towers of Mammon that loom above. Prosperous pin-suited yuppies go scampering homewards past La Bottega's doors – and on the evening we visited there seemed to be an exclusively foreign clientele filling out the place.
It's a warm, cheerful and unashamedly louche venue with lots of soft furnishings and red crushed-velvet curtains – they may be serious about wine, but the atmosphere is far from stern and severe. There's a mixture of 1970s retro with 1920s Berlin cabaret playing on the sound system – this is a barfly lounge where lounging is positively encouraged.
La Bottega is primarily a place you come to enjoy a glass of wine, so we eschewed the other drink options and went straight for the wine list. The wine list is extensive, and their website has the whole thing if you want to check it out. If you aren't in the mood or the visitor-numbers for a bottle, they have a good range of some of their most attractive wines available by the glass – and for prices that stand up very well by Moscow standards, with some even coming in under 300 RUB per glass. It's a pricing policy that keeps you there for a second or third glass, and encourages sampling several. I found the Allegrin Veneto Soave 2010 crisp and attractive – served ideally chilled, with some fruity notes to it, and priced to enjoy at only 370 RUB per glass. Emilia's preference for reds led her towards a Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2009, further up the price-scale at 470 RUB - but worth it. This is wine that stimulates the palate and prompts the appetite, and so we were quickly surveying the food menu.
As a Wine Bar, La Bottega's menu is extensively slanted towards smaller and lighter dishes you might have on the side with your glass of wine – and we enjoyed these appetiser dishes rather more than the main courses. If I went back to Bottega, next time I'd order two starters and skip the main course altogether – there's a panache and inventiveness among them that is somehow missing amid the worthy standards of the mains. Outstanding among the starters, and The Most Outrageously Delicious Thing I've Eaten in Months was the Mellow Figs Baked with Gorgonzola & Walnuts (450 RUB). My relentless curiosity often leads me into ordering the strangest stuff on the menu “just to try it” - but this time, for once, it paid off – the Odd Coupling of tangy fruit with attention-grabbing intense cheese is an unbeatable duo that I've never seen anywhere before – you have to try this! In fact it was so magnificently delicious that Emilia ate most of mine. And with good reason – she'd ordered a Mixture Of Green Leaves with Parma Ham Gran Riserva & Sheep's Ricotta (570 RUB)... but the green leaves were mostly chopped Chinese Leaves of clunky unloveliness, and they went unmunched. Surely they could get nicer salad leaves than this? My local supermarket sells them. The salad was crammed into a small deep bowl that made it hard to eat - and barely showed it in an attractive way. A better partner for a serious red wine was the Pear & Gorgonzola Quiche – a substantial slice for 320 RUB, and a meal in itself. It looked a little forlorn just plonked on a dish without even a lettuce-leaf for company, and might have benefited from more attractive presentation – but it delivers the goods on the fork.
The wind whistling in from the front door – which it does with some ferocity, straight into the seating area – was causing a little discomfort by now, and they'll need to fix this before winter draws in. We fortified ourselves with hot dishes and more wine, moving on to a Laughing Magpie Australian d'Arenburg 2007 – satisfyingly full and rounded, and worth the 450-RUB price-tag that accompanies it. The main courses which came along with it were less satisfying, however. I'd never seen a veal medallion the size or shape of those which appeared as Veal Medallions in Marsala Sauce (590 RUB). Full marks for getting the classic Marsala Sauce right, but the veal was very average. I had high hopes of Papardelle with Porcini and Cream Sauce if it was priced at 530 RUB – but it, too, was very ordinary. Scant on the porcini (in a bumper year for porcini), and not very creamy at all. We shared a quite decent panna cotta dessert for 290 RUB. The fare is bog-standard wine-bar stuff, in fact.
Overall, we felt that La Bottega would be good for sharing a glass of wine with friends, perhaps with a snack course on the side – the tables in the bar area are too small for eating main courses anyhow. There's a good selection of wines at prices that encourage you to linger. Unless you are unduly fond of fresh air, you might want to seat yourselves at the larger and more convenient tables which are further from the door. The staff is friendly and cheerful, but you have to keep on their case to make sure they bring what you actually ordered. The huge volume of passing trade from the adjacent office-blocks will probably keep La Bottega packed without them having to try harder than they do.
158.Prostye Veschi   
One of the best things about a trip to Kiev or St Petersburg is the range of super-quality mid-price cafes, bars & restaurants on offer – no wonder there howl about Moscow prices. Of course, Moscow has always had a few places not aimed at the expense-account gravy-trainers… but it's still been a sadly limited range, and they disappear with frightening frequency. The latest newcomer to the "demokratichny" sphere is Prostye Veshi (Simple Things), a smallish cafe-bistro across the road from Krasnopresnenskaya metro.
The retro-metro interiors come as no surprise, but it’s a formula that works well elsewhere - so why not? Bright white walls lit with downlighters, old b/w pictures on the walls, sturdy furniture evoking the post-war confidence of the 1950s. And although the prices aren't quite post-war, they're cheerfully old-fashioned too, and you’ll leave Prostye Veshi with even bigger smiles than when you arrived.
Price, though, isn't the only reason to be cheerful. The service is warm, friendly and personal, there are English-language menus obviously done by a native speaker (no howlers or blunders), and - somewhat amazingly - an extensive drinks menu that's entirely available. Parking nearby (or even directly outside) is a breeze, unfortunately - and since I held the car-keys for the evening, I went for a non-alcoholic cocktail, a mint frappe (a mere 80 Rbs). OK, hands up all those who thought - like me - that this was going to be a milkshakey concoction? In fact it's a rum-free mojito cocktail, identical in every way except without the hooch in it - and as an option for the cop-fearing quaffer it's not just good, it's excellent… and I had two. My Official Food-Taster for the evening was looking a little starboard, but a glass of Malaga Cruz port - for only 90 roubles - soon corrected the steering, but left us wondering if the prices weren’t perhaps listed in Serbian dinars.
On to the munchies, of which there’s a short but seasonal menu - six or seven options for salads, and the same kind of range for soups and other first courses, an identical number of main courses, and a goodish range of desserts. So, err, why so limited? The answer - according to Irina Khodzinskaya, who set the place up - is that the menu will change completely every two months, offering the best of each season's top picks. If you're reading this review any time in 2007, it won't be the late-2006 menu we tried! Portions are outstandingly generous, so we shared a green salad with chicken livers, weighing in at 210 roubles for a giant plateful. The mixed green and red leaves of lollo rosso, fennel and more partnered the scrumptious chicken perfectly - perhaps not everyone would appreciate the liver so lightly fried perhaps, but we tucked this away with great pleasure, only lamenting the absence of a squeeze of lemon, or perhaps a flash of balsamic vinegar to offset the broad flavour of the chicken livers? Autumn soups caught our fancy, so we had one each - and what a contrast they were! My favourite mistake in most restaurants is to be lured by exotic-sounding dishes which fail to deliver - but this time I hit pay-dirt, and the pumpkin soup (130 Rbs) was light, delicate, exuded freshness, and combined some satisfying hunks of pumpkin with some toasted pumpkin-seeds as a garnish. Unhappiness sadly ensued across the table over the rival chestnut soup (130 Rbs) - which seemed to be mainly hot cream and a dancing-troupe of pork pieces who went uncredited on the menu-listing. Chestnuts can be indigestible things at the best of times, but they were so little in evidence here that at least you need have no fears on that score. The home-made onion bread looks delicious, but had an over-chewy texture which clearly announced "sprinkled with water and microwaved." What a pity - the taste was excellent, the appearance good, and probably it had been very nice before going into the micro?
Fast-forward to the mains, and here we were more than happy. Ms Food-Taster's leg of lamb (at 390 Rbs the priciest item on the entire menu) was so tender it fell apart out of sheer desire to please the eager eater - happiness and bliss quickly returned, although further comment was mostly muted by appreciative lip-smacking noises. I fared just as happily with the trout with fennel & herbs, and in fact the roast fennel proved a highlight - I'd expect just a smidgeon of it tucked inside the trout, but it came as a garnish. The trout itself was perfectly prepared, moist, and fragrant from a lemon-herb marinade. Paradise, it seemed, was available on earth, and for cash prices… but some element of earthly woe was needed to prevent us just floating away in ecstasy, and this was provided in the form of the most stylishly impractical serving-style of 2006… serving the whole fish on a rimless wooden slat the same width as the fish. Open the thing to remove the bones - and fish-juices lap-out all over the table. Any angle of attack here will produce the same graceless results. I found myself longing for that tired cliche of old-fashioned dining habits - a normal plate? You can't take me anywhere, you see.
We finished-off sharing a largish dessert portion of fresh melon slices (80 Rbs) - Ms Taster would have preferred them ready-peeled, but the old hippy within me appreciated the absence of such supermarket-style convenience. Despite a single sad soup slip-up and a perverse plating pecadillo, the whole experience was succour for both body and soul, and for prices last seen in Moscow when the Metro used green-plastic tokens. This happy combo of bonhomie and wallet-friendliness attracts a crowd, and although it's exactly the kind of place you'd like to drop into when you can't be arsed to make supper at home, in fact you'll probably have to book a table if you plan coming after 8pm - the venue is small and they’re chronically short of tables. The kitchen closes at 11pm, but you can munch your dessert and raid the drinks-menu for bargains until midnight. They even take credit cards and allow you to smoke if you wish. Get rid of the Beatles tape guys, and it's a winning formula.
When I told Mr Polly that Expat.Ru had invited me to review Vanil, a place that a clueless prole like myself had never heard of before, his eyes lit up and he got very excited. He messaged all his friends to make them jealous. Turns out Vanil is, or at least was at one time, one of the top elitny eateries in town. After all, it was founded by some pretty well-known people: Fyodor Bondarchuk, Stepan Mikhailkov and none other than local restaurant legend Arkady Novikov. This initially gave me the impression that it must be packed with Moscow’s gilded youth and socialites, especially after noting that Vanil, a restaurant, enforces face control. But I soon came to understand that Vanil is more for an older, perhaps more refined crowd: Moscow’s gilded thirty-somethings.
Naturally my expectations were high. Very high. Especially after reading that an average dinner at Vanil without drinks will break you off about $140. I had also read conflicting comments about the menu, allegedly filled with indecipherable, purposely obscure selections. But in fact, once we had been seated at a table for two near a window facing Ostozhenka, I found that the menu was not as pretentious as I had been led to believe. I was only slightly disappointed when I understood that we would not be sitting at one of the popular tables facing an amazing view of Christ the Savior Cathedral. Instead we had a full-on view of the traffic jam outside and car-less metro commuters hurrying home from work. But never mind that - after all, who doesn’t enjoy watching the poor folk hobble by and stare wistfully in at you while you dine? Thanks to Vanil’s glistening ceiling-to-floor windows, this was a special treat we were granted the opportunity to enjoy several times that evening.
After perusing the menu for a bit, I was met with more disappointment upon learning that despite the fact that there are two scallop options listed on the menu, there were no scallops. So I was forced to rethink my plan. We decided on two cold appetizers the beef carpaccio with mushrooms (970Rbs) and tuna fillet with seaweed salad (750Rbs). Initially I had wanted to try the “warm scampi on rocket salad” (690Rbs) purely out of curiosity (what is rocket salad?), but we decided instead to share (note: “share”) another shrimp dish from the hot appetizers – scampi in tandoori sauce (450Rbs). I ordered a Kirin beer (180Rbs per 0.33L) and Mr Polly opted for a simple non-carbonated water.
Our cold appetizers were served quite soon after we ordered. Mr Polly’s water was poured into two wine glasses, even though he had only ordered water. My beer was nowhere to be seen. Oh well, I was hungry, so we began to check out the appetizers, which were both presented elegantly on Japanese-style plates. (One of the pages of Vanil’s menu offers a selection of what are allegedly Japanese delicacies, including sashimi and sushi rolls.) Vanil’s beef carpaccio is not cut in the traditional super-thin slices, but in small, thick rectangles. Not exactly what I was expecting, but this is probably the best thing I ate all evening there, and that is not meant to demean the carpaccio. It was excellent. Mr Polly’s tuna fillet was also quite good, but towards the end the large quantity of sea salt gracing the tuna and seaweed salad overwhelmed him.
Next came the scampi in tandoori sauce and Mr Polly’s order of cream of mushroom and celery soup. When the shrimp were served, I was again impressed by the detail devoted to presentation. I was also very impressed by the extremely large plate, considering that there were only four shrimp on it. Despite the accompanying iceberg lettuce salad, the actual food only covered about 1/3 of the plate. I began to feel like Steve Martin in LA Story when I noticed that Mr Polly’s soup was served in a gigantic bowl, also filled only about 1/3 high. I was getting a little nervous now since we had asked to share the shrimp, and there were only four. Plus, the waiter did not give Mr Polly silverware to partake in the shrimp, so there was clearly no chance that they had heard us say the word “share” and that he would be bringing the remaining four shrimp on a separate plate post-soup. I had not ordered soup because I thought it would be too much food. I was sorely mistaken. So I saved Mr Polly’s two shrimp for him after trying as hard as I could to relish the strange tandoori sauce drizzled over my half.
By the way, my beer had still not arrived at this point in time. I had to ask the waiter to please bring the beer I had ordered at least 30 minutes previously when he came to collect our dishes. He nodded obediently, but I got some look like “uh, yeah,” like it was my fault that he hadn’t brought it already.
We waited a little while before the entrees were served. Having been forced to forego the scallop plate, I had decided to try the “stake [sic] with vegetables Chinese style” (1250rbs). Mr Polly chose the veal breast with crunchy vegetables in an orange sauce (1100Rbs).
Now let me begin my diatribe by saying that I selected the Chinese-style “stake” because (a) I figured a place with such a high reputation would do a good job with “Chinese style” and because (b) having been misled by the description of “Chinese style,” I had envisioned said “stake” and the alleged vegetables would be served up as a stir-fry. Boy, was I ever wrong. Instead I got another gargantuan plate with a small, not-choice cut of steak surrounded on either side by saut?ed bits of probably two mushrooms cut up real small, and three snow peas cut up real small (the small slices make it look like there is actually more than three to the untrained eye). The worst of it was that the majority of these “vegetables” was freaking Chinese lettuce!!! First of all, Chinese lettuce is an affront to any kind of real lettuce. Plus, lettuce isn’t exactly what you imagine when you read the word “vegetables.” To top it off, this mutant, evil spawn of the lettuce devil and the “stake” had all been soaked in some sort of cheap-tasting teriyaki (read: Japanese, NOT Chinese) sauce that really did not do much to help either the hateful Chinese lettuce or the tough meat. To add insult to injury, a few drops of the offensive sauce literally leaped off of my fork, staining my sweater. So I guess the lesson here is that even in Moscow’s best, any “Asian-style” sauce will do and that bok choi’s rejected deformed cousin Chinese freakin lettuce can make any dish “Chinese style.” Oh, and neither of us received steak knives despite both of us ordering main courses with meat. You can imagine what a joy it was to saw away at my wretched “stake.”
Mr Polly’s veal was served in two pieces, one with meat, and one that was 90% bone and 10% impenetrable grizzle. The “crunchy vegetables” were not crunchy, and consisted of about 12 rectangular slices of some obscure vegetable measuring roughly two inches long and ?-inch wide. Maybe they were carrots, I’ll never know and at this point I’ve no desire to find out. They were, as you could probably guess, presented beautifully. But that had started to lose significance. Mr Polly liked the meat part of the veal, which he said was very tender, and the orange sauce it had been cooked in. He also noted that this was the first place he’d gone with me to review at which he’d actually been able to eat everything he was served. That should help you understand just how ‘minimalist’ the very pretty servings are.
We were then offered the dessert menu, which has a large selection of pretentiously named sweets at prices ranging from 250-950Rbs. At least the English dessert menu had enough mistakes to be amusing, with choices like “Ring with ice cream” and “chestnuts muss [supposed to be mousse].” After the stake disaster, I was in a foul mood and nothing except the berries appealed to me at all, but at this point I was in such a snit that I couldn’t even bear to not have to pay 950Rbs for what I assumed would end up being three to five berries on a giant plate. Thank you, I’ll pass. Mr Polly, however, cannot pass up anything halyava, so he tried a creative little number with vanilla ice cream topped with strawberry sorbet surrounded by three “French meringues” and fresh whipped cream topped with slices of strawberry and a sprig of mint. Not bad. Now I was even more pissy because hey, I should have ordered a freakin dessert. He also ordered a latte but I didn’t bother looking to see how much it costs. Probably a lot. I just finished nursing my puny, overpriced beer.
While I simmered away in my silent little hissy fit, Russian Mr Polly hastened to note that you have to pay for atmosphere and ambiance. OK – to their credit, Vanil has got the whole interior design thing down right. The restaurant is decked out predominantly – and tastefully- in what we can call Asian style. The color scheme is light, eliminating anything even slightly resembling Moscow’s heavy and ubiquitous “wood factor.” The lights are dimmed – but not too much, and the music is played at a perfect, unobtrusive volume. There are plenty of tables, many of which were filled with clients before we left, and despite their close proximity to one another, Vanil really manages to retain a sense of intimacy at each table. You don’t feel crowded, but you do feel cozy. This could be a great venue to chat someone up, for either business or pleasure.
That said, I’ve experienced my fair share of atmosphere and I ain’t payin no 950Rbs for no berries. It was with a sigh of relief that I stepped out onto the sidewalk, breathing in the cool autumn air and rejoining the masses of car-less commuters, without even one wistful glance back at Vanil’s fabulous floor-length windows.
Culture Reviews
160.Vive la Fete  
Vive la Fete
Being the young and tender age that I am, I can honestly say that I managed to escape the embarrassing haircuts and unfortunate fashion escapades of the 80’s. By the latter half of the so-called ‘decade with no style,’ my musical appreciation had developed only to the extent that I owned a full collection of Kylie records (this was before she herself ‘grew up’!!) My only excuses for such uninformed purchases lie within the then widespread addiction to Australian soaps, and my own personal crush on Jason Donovan. Real musical talent and non-mainstream artists were still outwith my spheres of musical consciousness…that is, if one were to exclude the exploits of my older brother – whose near run-in with glam-rock fame has left me (and no doubt a few others!) scarred for life…
In effect, those two all-important decades ago, as I was battling with burgeoning hormones and somewhat questionable fringe levels, my aforementioned elder sibling was fighting his own unfair and losing confrontations with the Inner city record labels of that time. Curious and slightly concerned, I could only watch on in disbelief as the hordes of punks and Goths trailed up and down our stairs, making their music in his bedroom and bleaching their hair in our shower!
All this has long seemed to be a thing of the past …or so I thought until a night at Apelsin served to entertain a few ghosts of the past…
It seemed like a pretty average Moscow evening – lots of obviously well-to-do, well dressed youths at an event where both organizers and invitees were out to impress. A fashion show, a DJ, a drinks promotion and a raffle of a weeks’ test drive in an Austin Astra …yawn, yawn, yawn…until… Vive la Fete appeared on stage and provided a memorable climax to an otherwise unremarkable evening.
The event was co-hosted by the trading network E-life and JaLouse magazine. A Belgian kitsch pop band who prides itself on being alternative and non-commercial would seem an unlikely choice of accompaniment to an evening which promoted modern-day fashion and retailing, yet Vive la Fete and their unabashed allegiance to the outrageous tendencies of the 80’s have become the darlings of the fashion world. Their self-proclaimed ‘biggest fan’ is none other than Karl Lagerfeld himself!
Yet as Danny Mommens and Els Pynoo stepped on stage, the suave and sophisticated world of Chanel couldn’t have been further removed. Danny and the other musicians wore black tops and leather trousers and a quantity of black eye make-up that made even Cleopatra’s attempts look conservative in comparison. In stark contrast, Danny’s busty, long-legged girlfriend and main singer Els dazzled in a dress which made her look like a gyrating glitter ball on legs. As for her make up…well, if she was wearing any, it was impossible to spot under the huge head of bleached blonde hair which constantly covered her face. As the music started, her flailing head and limbs jerked into action, providing one of the most un-ladylike dances ever to be seen with such a body in a dress so short!
Els’ physical appearance could have been distracting if it weren’t for the power of the music. The guitars and synthesizers were cranked up loud and played with attitude. The electro sounds and keyboard melodies were varied, fun and convincingly 80’s except for one thing: The rhythm. Maybe this is techno music snobbery on my behalf, but I don’t remember the 80’s ever having such beats and basslines! And the vocals? Els’ voice has frequently been referred to as ‘seductive’, and it’s true that at times her emissions sounded close to orgasmic screams, but at others, well… imagine Lisa Simpson after a good inhalation on a helium balloon! OK, so she sang in French. That’s pretty sexy. And her performance was certainly passionate. But seductive? I have my doubts!! In any case, it was original, it took a lot of nerve to do, and involved more than a smattering of talent.
The chemistry between Els and Danny was obviously very strong. And it was clear that they were both enjoying themselves. In a particularly cheeky antic, Danny removed his guitar and leapt from the stage onto the roof of the Austin which was on display, much to the despair of the security guards. His only words of explanation were: “Sorry guys. But that’s a f***ing ugly car!!” Later, towards the end of the show, he grabbed some members of the audience onto the catwalk, danced with them, then handed over the guitar and the mic for them to have a little fun with! Vive la Fete performed songs from several albums, including the first ever single the pair wrote together (‘Je ne veux pas’) then finished on a winner, inducing more smiles and cheers with a cover of the 80’s classic ‘fade to grey.’ Nice one!
So maybe my brother and his weird and wonderful friends didn’t traumatize me as much as I thought. Or maybe Vive la Fete’s ‘don’t give a damn’ attitude towards having fun and making good music has reconciled me with my past. In any case, it now seems clear that some things are worth repeating no matter what decade we’re in. So may the words Vive la Fete be among them. Long live the party!
Stagecraft is one of the great mysteries of music. How is it that some acts, apparently by force of personality alone, attempt to belie the limitations of their material by hiding it under layers of performance trickery while others offer next to no acknowledgement of an audience but still put on a good show? Long ago, goth godfather Andrew Eldritch talked of his early exploits with the Sisters of Mercy, admitting that much of it might not even have sounded like songs, but combined with the onstage smoke and mirrors they created a space "in which you could lose yourself, or more probably find yourself". Nobody, therefore, could accuse Eldritch of being anything less than pretentious.
But his words came to mind in the somewhat unlikely surroundings of a new restaurant-brewery on Novy Arbat when Russia's veteran electro-rocker Dolphin took to the stage. The venue, the recently opened Maximillians, seems to be working hard to blend two seemingly incompatible ideas - a pseudo Bavarian bierkeller with a playlist of alternative Russian rockers. It seems paradoxical, combining mass-market dining with acts who struggle for airtime in the shiny new world of Russian pop, but good luck to them. For years Novy Arbat has been the garishly-lit home of fading Fabrika Zvezdy no hopers with little to offer beyond long legs and over-produced chart fodder; now there is at last a chance to hear something worthwhile without plunging into the hipster hotspots of Krasny Oktyabr.
Which brings us back to Dolphin. If the moody synthpop of Mujuice is what is currently exciting the Afisha crowd, Dolphin, Andrei Lysikov to his friends, is the sorceror to whom the new kid has been apprenticed. He belongs to that wave of Russian acts which hit its peak around the turn of the millenium - perhaps at the point when the likes of Leningrad, Mumy Troll, Zemfira and the like were at their finest. Now these guys can seem half-forgotten, or trading bravely on past glories as a new generation outshines them. But, on looking at that new generation, it quickly seems that a decade of Putin-inspired stability has changed Russian music - or its audience - radically. Where there was once a mass market for bands trying to be different, the country is now in the depths of a retro revival which sees Stas Mikhailov's crooning rated as the acme of influential celebrity. So-called "Alternative" music gets itself invited to chummy little singalongs with the president (yes, Mr Samoilov, I do mean you), and a generation of listeners looks abroad for something to stimulate its ears.
Or looks to the past. Dolphin might be old news, but he still draws a Friday night crowd large enough to turn an intimately-sized restaurant dancefloor into a scrum which gives the evening most of the disadvantages of an arena gig (hardly anyone can see anything) without the benefits of that larger scale and a big stage to exploit. Which raises the whole stagecraft question. Dolphin prefers not to address his audience, or even make himself particularly visible behind his drum kit as the stage is strafed with strobes or plunged into violet gloom depending on the whim of the lighting crew. Inter-song repartee is replaced with white noise or chugging drumbeats which slowly morph into the next number - so slowly, on occasion, that the band has time to slip off for a quick drink before returning to action. And yet, like those early Sisters gigs, it works. Beneath the unprepossessing exterior lies a heart of synth-rock menace, studded with echoes of Depeche Mode (because no Russian musician growing up in the 80s could escape the DM influence) and carrying forward the darker shades of the electro movement. Fans of The Faint will find much to admire, followers of Front 242 might pick out something worth hearing. And those who like good beer and good music will be back at Maximillians in due course to sample more from a venue where appearances can be deceptive.
162.Dear Frankie  
Dear Frankie
Directed by Shona Auerbach. Written by Andrea Gibb. Starring: Gerard Butler, Jack McElhone, Emily Mortimer, Mary Riggans. 105 min. UK.
By Sam Gerrans
Review top sheet: a well-crafted and emotionally harrowing film with a great central idea, fine photography and the occasional curious blunder.
This is a full-on weepy. If anything you’ve seen in the last year has had you quietly dabbing the corners of your eyes, this film will leave you howling on the floor in a pool of your own tears.
Not first-date material if one of you is a single parent. Nor is it a boys’-night-out film if you have a tender underbelly and don’t want your mates laughing at you.
Will you like this film?
• Yes, if: you’re into a good emotional battering and like to mainline large doses of pathos in your free time
• No, if: you’re a systems analyst, a computer programmer, or enjoy doing anything connected with an Excel spreadsheet
• Maybe, if: you’re spending lots of money on a therapist to help you get over your absent father and want to get off on someone else having a relatively much worse time than you did
Comments: I don’t mind low-budget. I mean, my top film for the year so far – “Sideways” – rang up for less than Spielberg’s personal allowance for Coke during the making of “War of the Worlds”. But “Sideways” looks like it was meant to begin its descent to cable from a cinema theatre. This film doesn’t. It looks Channel 4.
Is this because I'm from Britain, a place where the sun never shines for more than ten minutes and people's teeth are uneven and have a yellowish-brown tinge? Is it that only America's endless sun and perfect teeth can make a film look big-screen? I don't think so. "The Full Monty" and "Billy Elliot" both hail from dank, tea-stained Britain but still looked at home where the seats cost ten bucks a pop. "Dear Frankie" somehow does not.
Out-of-five star ratings:
• Story: ****
• Dialogue: ***
• Substance: ****
• Film craft: ***
Story comments: the story premise is great. I had one of those wish-I’d-thought-of-that-first moments. No complaints – it’s a really cool idea. And having started like that, the film twists and morphs into something even better. Yes, this is an original, telling idea pretty well developed.
But the film has problems. Its main one is it’s hard-up for antagonists. They are either hollow or absent (either dramatically, factually – or both).
The unpleasant little git Frankie – played by Jack McElhone – chooses to pal up with digs his poisoned daggers in at opportune moments for no apparent reason then goes away again. Something was missing here.
You could argue with the ending, too, though it worked for me.
Dialogue comments: if you couldn’t follow “Trainspotting” for linguistic reasons you are going to have problems here since the story takes place in Scotland with all the attendant complications for people attuned to international English.
This is a film without stars – which I personally often like. But, despite the competent – even good – delivery all round, I was troubled by the feeling that the whole thing looked just a tad out of its depth on the big screen.
Substance comments: this film has substance. A mother's love for her son. A boy's need for his father. This is all highly emotional stuff which is hardwired into our sympathies. And it's been effectively - if somewhat sneakily - utilised here.
The themes are treated emotionally rather than intellectually. This is not an erudite or clever film. It is a gush fest based on a strong idea which works pretty well but not brilliantly.
Film craft: well-shot, nicely edited and well cast, the film’s chief failing is that it has been wrongly marketed. It’s a TV drama, not a cinema experience.
A taste of the story: a deaf and mute boy writes to his absent father via a PO box. But the correspondence is not what it seems.
Sam Gerrans is a freelance writer and translator:
163.Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith  
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Directed by: George Lucas. Written by: George Lucas. Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson. 140 min. USA.
By Sam Gerrans
Review top sheet: a high-intensity arcade game marinated in gallons of medievalesque, futuristic swashbuckle. Less of a film and more of a self-referencing cyberthon fest for confirmed fans.
I’ll tell you now, the only Star Wars film I liked was the first one. I liked it a lot. But I was ten at the time.
I was afraid that the intervening twenty-odd years had affected my ability to get the most out of loud and shiny hi-tech heroics draped over a completely moronic plot so I took my as-yet-unjaded seven-year old son along as a control. His verdict: somewhere between good and really good.
There you have it. If you’re a full-on Star Wars fan, you need read no further.
Will you like this film?
• Yes, if: you are, what for me is a completely alien creature: a Startrekkie, Deep-Space-Ninie, Starwarsian cyber junkie. It all makes sense to you and you care what happens
• No, if: on your way from reading comics to dealing with work-related emails you made any kind of detour into the realm of books without pictures written by people who have been dead for a while
• Maybe, if: you’re a computer graphics artist and want to see some genuine masters of the craft at work
Comments: the film follows on from the last one and features the same basic ingredients: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) with his unconvincing British officer’s accent and Nikolai II beard, Padme (Natalie Portman) more hopelessly in love than seems decent beyond the bounds of a chewing-gum advertisement, and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) looking way too toy-boyish and pampered to cut it as any sort of warrior-caste knight committed to a life of rigorous self-discipline.
Yoda is wise, reflective, green and unbelievably supple for a semi-omniscient being of his age. And the android sidekicks bring up the rear with R2-D2 blipping forth a stream of withering diode-driven pessimism and C-3PO hopping about with the jittery servility of a heavily caffeinated butler.
In short, there’s something for everyone.
Out-of-five star ratings:
• Story: **
• Dialogue: *
• Substance: *
• Film craft: *****
Story comments: the lazy way to write new stuff, it seems, is just wait till everyone has forgotten all the good writers, then dumb it down and serve it up again with a straight face.
The story here is a hybrid creation formed from an asset-stripped Greek tragedy (complete with prophecy, premonition and seemingly endless deus ex machina), and a viral culture of Faust, Frankenstein, and Paradise Lost grown under fluorescent lights after some jiggery-pokery with the DNA signatures of the originals. But then, the reviewers of Goethe, Mary Shelley and John Milton probably said something similar about them. Since there’s not much new under the sun, fluorescent lights will have to suffice.
Where the story really comes into its own is in connecting the dots of the Starwarsian meta-story – that is, of the total Star Wars myth – to achieve a genuine sense of closure. It’s cleverly done and makes the second half of the film worth watching (at any rate, I stopped yawning and closing my eyes during protracted lightsabre sessions which give me a headache).
The story’s ability to self reference successfully is an indication of the critical mass this contemporary myth franchise has accumulated. But I’m still in the dark as to what, for me, is the key mystery of the whole saga: how does R2-D2 get up and down stairs?
Dialogue comments: on the comedy side, there is a series of android quips and antics which borders on slapstick, and the whole thing gets dangerously close to a lightsabre-witheringly expensive pantomime more than once.

The rest is an arcade game with characters you can choose to be or not be through an unlimited number of levels. The personalities are made of cardboard and any emotions they evince come from a palate with a limited range of options and have a block-like, pixel quality (which may be more or less convincing depending on the kind of processor you have and the amount of RAM you can afford).

My problem with a lot of it – and here I am returning the question of deus ex machina – is that the outcome is entirely spurious. It’s just a matter of Player One having more powers (suddenly, and for no comprehensible reason) than Player Two. But even within this very subjective framework there is no consistency. Yoda, for example, for all his semi-omniscient powers can’t seem to learn to form basic sentences properly. Does that make sense? No, it doesn’t. And don’t expect it to, either. This is the province of fantasy. Things just are for no reason and they change for no reason. Life is a computer game and you just have to learn each level as you go and accept the programmer as your god.
If you can’t get into it on that level then I suppose you have no business going to see a film designed to entertain seven-year olds.
Substance comments: the story deals with loyalty, ambition and the dangers of siding with evil in the interests of a seeming greater good. But again, you have to close off large portions of your mind (something which literature professors refer to as suspending disbelief) and understand that you are not going to find anything on this level (or on any other) which a programmer did not put there on purpose and want you to find.
However, on the political side, there were some interesting moments. The point, it turns out, of the core struggle was to save Democracy. I laughed out loud. But on reflection it seemed that in the context of a story which revolves round elite-caste in-fighting, there is something refreshingly realpolitik and subversive about the situation as presented here. A story featuring a genocidal, neo-fascist oligarchy invoking Freedom and Democracy to achieve its nefarious ends invites comparisons and conclusions which are inescapable to even the most indoctrinated CNN or Fox News devotee.
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) lays it on the line: If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy. Yeah, we’ve heard similar noises in recent times from George Bush who was quoting (unwittingly, obviously) a man with whom he has much in common: Joseph Stalin. Perhaps the same person is writing their speeches.
And again: So this is how liberty dies – with thunderous applause, says Padme. This sort of statement is more politically unfettered than anything any mainstream news outlet in the United States today can say.
Let’s hope the audience still has the tools to grasp it.
Film craft: this computer-generated culturally-synthesised world woven out of strands of ancient Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Rome, medieval Europe, a top-secret NASA project and a business park in Milton Keynes is brilliantly executed and – within the terms of the genre – among the best I have seen.
A taste of the story: after three years of fighting in the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker begins his journey towards the Dark Side of the Force, putting his friendship with Obi Wan Kenobi and his marriage at risk.
Sam Gerrans is a freelance writer and translator:
164.Another Year /By M. Leigh/  
Another Year /By M. Leigh/
Review Top Sheet: Unlike their combative cartoon cat and mouse namesakes, our Tom and Gerri have been living in harmony for years. They enjoy their London suburban marital idyll, both with steady jobs and tending the allotment at the weekend, while their friends’ lives fall apart around them. Ken is a concern; Ronnie is a worry and as for Mary: well, Mary is something else.

Kind, sympathetic Gerri has taken her colleague Mary, one of life’s casualties, under her wing. At the kitchen table, over dinner and during summer barbeques, she and the couple’s other friends pour out their souls, lubricated with lashings of wine and beer. This ‘slice of life’ movie serves up twelve months’ worth of our heroes’ trials and tribulations for our examination and consideration.

Will you like this film?

• Yes if: you’re already a Mike Leigh aficionado (you won’t be disappointed) or if not, you like your entertainment deep and slow with a large dash of sentiment.

• No if: your taste is more for the action packed, film-star eye-candy led, neatly resolved Hollywoodesque.

• Maybe if: you feel the need for vicarious counseling and prefer watching your self-help books dramatized to reading them.

Comments: Perhaps because they make us feel better about ourselves, or it’s simply voyeuristic, but other people’s woes are always fascinating. Leigh is expert at getting under his characters’ skin, of suggesting the fears, motivations and life experiences that contribute to each of their psychologies. And his cast are adept at conveying the hurt with the briefest of glimpses, the most economic of lines.

In fact, as the doyen of dysfunction, one gets the impression that Leigh is perplexed by what makes happiness. Closeness to the soil seems to be one ingredient. Tom, a geologist, spends his working days contemplating the London Clay, while he and his wife relax by tilling the earth and nurturing their crop of fruit and veg. As each season passes, the camera lingers on their shared bucolic paradise.

Another Year’ invites comparison to Leigh’s 1990 classic ‘Life Is Sweet’ but is less wide ranging, with fewer characters and not as many issues and incidents. It’s pared down to the essentials of ‘kitchen sink drama’, a form which first saw the light of day in the 1960s. It begs the question how long the genre has to run: all things, even good things, must come to an end.

Out-of-five star ratings:

Story: ****
Dialogue: ****
Substance: ****
Film craft: ****

Story and dialogue comments: When Leigh begins to make a film, he asks his actors to get into character and to improvise, “intimately” if need be (exactly how intimate is not revealed). The result of this playacting forms the basis of his script and in ‘Another Year’, Leigh has produced a powerful text, with the silences and what is unsaid as charged as what is uttered. The American Academy liked what they heard and the screenplay was nominated for this year’s Oscars but it lost out on the night to David Seidler and ‘The King’s Speech’.

Substance comments: Though brought up in northern England, Leigh has made London his home and his inspiration since attending acting school in 1960. Critic Ian Buruma, writing in the New York Review of Books says: "it is hard to get on a London bus or listen to the people at the next table in a cafeteria without thinking of Mike Leigh. Leigh's London is as distinctive as Fellini's Rome or Ozu's Tokyo."

At first working on stage plays, Leigh first came to the notice of a wider public with the TV productions ‘Nuts in May’ and ‘Abigail’s Party’ in the 1970s, with their satires of middle class pretensions. Film became more prominent in Leigh’s work following the death of his father in 1985 and his studies of working-class life are by turns endearing (‘Happy-go-Lucky’ 2008), brutal (‘Naked’ 1993) and emotionally unrelenting (‘Secrets and Lies’ 1996).

Throughout his career, Leigh has been a star-maker, kick starting the careers of his wife, Alison Steadman (‘Abigail's Party’), Gary Oldman and Tim Roth (‘Meantime’), and Jane Horrocks (‘Life is Sweet’). He has worked with a panoply of established celebrities, including Jim Broadbent, Kathy Burke and Julie Walters, who “comprises an impressive, almost representative, nucleus of outstanding British acting talent,” according to Leigh’s biographer, Michael Coveney.

Film craft comments: The quality of the acting in ‘Another Year’ is high across the board, from Mike Broadbent’s avuncular Tom, to his bristling nephew Carl, played by Martin Savage. Yet most praise must go to Lesley Manville for her portrayal of Mary and her increasingly desperate battle with the coming of age and the dying of options. The film’s cinematography does an excellent job in contrasting the domestic intimacy of the interiors with lofty skies in the outdoor scenes, while the string soundtrack adds to the growing melancholy. The film finishes with Mary and a final shot of heart aching poignancy.

A taste of the story: Mary (talking to Tom and Gerri): I bet he regrets it, deep down. I hope he does. He was my big love. But he was married. Well, what can you do, Tom? You can't walk around with a label saying, ‘Don't fall in love with me, I'm married’, can you?
Tom: Some people wear a ring. (He shows his)
Mary: He didn't. But he wasn't a bad person. He loved me.
Tom: Sounds to me like he was a duplicitous s**t.
Gerri: Tom! (Tom and Gerri exchange a look)
Zimpala - from Bordeaux? Yes, Zimpala dropped into Moscow on Friday night and treated the patrons of Tinkoff to a musical treat. Zimpala - the band - is a group of 4 very talented musicians who make their home in Bordeaux, and like their DJ partners, present electro jazz with a hint of pop, funk and latin in the mix.
Tinkoff is a perfect watering hole - perfect for Friday night relaxation after a tough week of work. Being my first visit to the brew-pub, I was compelled to experiment with a variety of beverages, with a personal preference for the lighter varieties of beer. Beer coupled with heaping appetizers set my mood for some good jazz to follow.
A few interesting facts about the band. Each band member plays the keyboards and composes music, bringing their personal preferences into the music mix. Adding to the obvious keyboards were a bass guitar, saxophone and acoustic guitar, plus the computer tracks for background detail. The trip marked the band's first gig in Moscow and before the show, were practicing the basic two Russian words.
The pub was primed and ready for some lively music and at long last, the band appeared on stage. The first songs were rather mixed and I was somewhat unsure of exactly where the music was headed. However, two back-to-back songs defined the band. Adios, a more romantic jazz vocal focused piece started to catch the attention of the patrons and those able to find a square meter, began to dance and enjoy. The next song, Crazy Girl, was pure electro jazz beat and rhythm, bringing the crowd to life and action in the dance area. These two songs set the parameters of the spectrum of music and the rest of the evening flowed well, or was it the beer that flowed well?
Tinkoff is perhaps not the most ideal venue for dancing as tables near the stage impede movement for dancers, patrons and staff. That is perhaps the only negative as the service was super fast and beer was delivered on time and cold, food portions were of a good size and tasty, and the atmosphere was friendly and relaxing.
The temptation to compare Zimpala to Bordeaux wine is irresistible - well-aged and mature, best enjoyed with friends and beer.
166.The Skatalites  
The Skatalites
The Skatalites have influenced and incubated generations of Raggae, Ska and Rock Steady artists. The collective formed in the early sixties continues to transform itself and inspire admirers. The Skatalites latest incarnation performed at Club B2 last Thursday night.
Club B2 hosts class-acts on a regular basis ( The club is humongous but cleverly designed to almost feel cozy. Carousing the flights and secret rooms of the concert hall, one completely forgets about the activity bustling below in the Japanese Kitchen, Beer
Restaurant and Billiards.

The staff is friendly (some very), young and good-looking - much like the clientele. There was an interesting and unpretentious mix ranging from university students and tattooed types to Finnish businessmen. The most notable anomaly was a revelry of bald dudes wearing cotton button-downs and suspenders - the new fashion for true Ska enthusiasts.
Rushing into B2 off the drizzled streets of Moscow, I had to down a Johhny Walker (high in price but low in volume - standard) before hustling backstage to greet the greats. Honored to meet the masters of Ska, it was tempting to barrage them with common questions but
intuition and an attempt urged better.
Dangling unaware of occasion specific protocol, I resorted to the usual survival tactic - dilate pupils and smile. Amused, Devon James - veteran guitarist, picked up a camcorder and teased me with compliments. Thus, infused with courage, I could pose the first and most pressing question - "Who's Lloyd?" "Lloyd Knibb is sitting on the other chair." "He's an original." "He knows all the beats," they replied as he reigned silently and sure. Just then entered the other original Lloyd, Lloyd Brevett - bassist. Tall and thin with bright colors, ruby gold rings and long long dreadlocks, he was accompanied by a velvet-clad lady and the lovely Doreen Shaffer.

Forty years and still strong, I wondered how the collective could so successfully transcend space and time. "Some of us have been together since tender age." "We follow the drum beat." "All of our songs are hits." "It's Magic! When we play even the cripple – he gonna move." That last remark was made by the one and only Lester "Ska" Sterling. A charming alto earl in red shirt and black cap, he would nod off from time to time, waking up when elbowed.

Curious as to their attitude towards Babylon, I inquired if I could ask about politics. Ken Stewart - keyboardist and Bostonian, succinctly expressed his opinion on the recent US elections. But
when Lloyd Brevett proclaimed he don't have nothing to do with it, that he only care about the One Love, my written list of questions suddenly seemed even more mundane. There was only one thing to do - lean back and bask in the nuances of Patoi and Island English which swirled
around the room.
Devon James cut off the video recorder and offered a beer. "Don't go, we like your company," he chuckled. Oleg, the excellent waiter brought in a tray of exotic fruit, and before long Mr. James
and I began to reminisce about mangos, glass-bottomed boats and the pleasures of creation. As the performance hour approached, our conversation lulled to a soft alto sax merging with eager trumpet, joining Mr.Batchelor's rhythmic feet and sounds to create an impromptu jazz standard session.
Onstage, embraced by three tiers of bar and dance floor, the Skatalites brought an anticipatory audience to the fore by mixing intricate interpretations of familiar classics with famous raggae
renditions as interspersed by JAH! JAH! JAH! shoutings. Yes, it was truly sweet to indulge in the honey warm melody of "Sugar, Sugar" as sung by Ms. Shaffer. (Nothing like a tropical romance.)

Indeed, Vin Gordon, Karl "Cannonball" Bryan and the rest of the Skatalites did make us all in the concert hall, relax and move, shake, sway. "It's magic," I mused while noting the group's rich, gold tone. And then, just as if to echo that thought, the effervescent Lester "Ska" Sterling danced a happy jig while the legends launched into the night's last number. The lyrics of which flowed like this: "Oh, the stars shine above on our golden love."
167.Chris Clark   
Chris Clark
A fast Jungle beat drops and gets broken down into fragments, leaving anyone who was dancing wondering: what’s next? Noises, scratches and contra-rhythms are thrown at ears and feet, with only the bass keeping you remotely in check of the beats-per-minute you should be moving your body to. Then, the bass halts and all dancing suddenly looks awkward. In a minute long cacophony, all notes and beats are mixed, stretched, distorted, hinting at the track you just heard and at the one that might follow. From this chaos, finally a completely new sound texture evolves and Chris Clark lands on an Electro track that gets the crowd moving again. Then, he rises from his almost continuously bent-over position, breathes, sips his bottle of beer and gives the audience a grin. Yes, this is a wicked mind at work in Sixteen Tons, all right.
Chris Clark debuted in 2001, while still studying maths on university on the record label Warp, also the home to the notorious Aphex Twin. And there are resemblances. In both cases you’re talking about disorienting Ambient music with a sharp edge. However, Clark’s music comes across a bit more subdued. The fast-paced break beats are there, for sure, but the undertone is darker - ominous maybe. If Aphex Twin would be a raving lunatic, Chris Clark would be his quiet, but far more dangerous brother.
During his set, it becomes clear that you have to be in the dancing crowd to fully experience and appreciate Chris Clark’s performance. You have to really listen to keep up with the tempo changes and different styles: this is no simple hop-along house music. The concert is a series of changing rhythms and moods that are connected by complex interludes. It is interesting and at the same time great fun. And once you get into the weird musical twists and turns, you get sucked in. However, there seems to be no real build-up in the set, and there’s no climax at the end. Or it must be that suddenly, Clark rises up, waves, and is gone. What remains is the desire for an encore that doesn’t come.
If you are sitting back at one of the tables across the bar, the concert may have passed unnoticed. At some moments, you may actually have thought that over there on stage, some maniac was pushing his records into a food processor that was wired to speakers. Or that the CD player is hanging at random moments… Which is probably why after the concert, the Sixteen Ton’s audience seems to be divided into those who obviously had a good time and those who aren’t overly impressed.
But the verdict is: with most big names in dance music producing risk-free muzak, it is nice to see that at least one creative mind is brave enough to demand the audience to pay proper attention. If you did so last Saturday, you will know what I mean.
Photo by Anna Gavrilova
168.Kill Bill: Vol.2 / By Q.Tarantino /  
Kill Bill: Vol.2 / By Q.Tarantino /
Kill Bill: Vol.2 is a magnificent movie, and definitely one of the best of this year. While I’m eager to entertain people’s arguments against it (poor pacing, too much dialogue, lacking in action, etc.), at the same time I can’t help but explain to these people that they’re just missing the point.
First of all, while this movie stands perfectly well on its own, one has to remember that it was originally meant as the latter half to last year’s breathtaking Kill Bill: Vol.1. Most of the new fans that director Quentin Tarantino attracted with that movie will probably be unhappy with this offering, as he has forsaken the stylish hack-and-slash music video presentation of KBv1 with a more penetrating study of the very Tarantino ‘universe’ and the motivations of the characters that populate it. On the other hand, if you allow yourself to inhabit this universe, you’ll find that his razor-sharp storytelling style inflicts a much deeper cut than a sword from Hattori Hanzo himself.
For the benefit of the people who missed KBv1, this movie actually begins with The Bride (Uma Thurman) speaking to the audience and explaining her mission and backstory: “I’ve killed a helluva lot of people up to this point, and I only have one left to kill… Bill.” Of course in order to get to Bill (David Carradine), she must first find a way to get past the two remaining Vipers: Budd (Michael Madsen) and Elle (Daryl Hannah).
The Characters
When we first see Bill’s brother Budd in a flashback, we are immediately reminded of a similar character in Reservoir Dogs; apart from being classy and loyal, Mr. Blonde was also unpredictable yet effective. The years have not been kind to Budd however, as a subsequent falling-out with Bill has put him in a bit of a downward spiral. Michael Madsen, in a seemingly flawless Mickey Rourke impression, is excellent as the pathetic and self-punishing strip-club bouncer. In the showdown with The Bride, he shows that his instincts have not dulled with time; he is still just as unpredictable and effective as ever.
You can also tell that Daryl Hannah had a blast in playing Elle, the most ruthless Viper. Being The Bride’s rival and now Bill’s mistress, their fight scene is the action highpoint of the movie. In contrast to the beautiful wire-fu sequences in KBv1 however, this time around it’s no-holds-barred brawl in Budd’s dilapidated trailer. The action is so fierce you’ll cringe after witnessing its eye-popping outcome.
In addition to Hannah’s turn as superbitch Elle, David Carradine is simply perfect as Bill. In past outings, Tarantino has saved many a career on life support, and this time around he does a great favor to the old Grasshopper. Carradine delivers each line with such composed disposition that you even wonder if he’s acting at all. The result is one of the coolest characters in the Tarantino universe. I only wish they actually showed some scenes with him and his si fu Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), the legendary kung-fu master whose tutelage scenes are just too hilarious to properly describe here.
The Direction
Tarantino’s direction is excellent, using different techniques to heighten the emotional impact of his off-the-wall storytelling. He finds the appropriate times to show the tricks he’s used before: long shots, black & white, foot shots, old-school soundtrack. This time around, he also plays with the granularity (at times coarser to convey more grit and awkwardness) and screen ratio (he switches from letterbox to 4:3 to convey claustrophobia and helplessness). There’s even one scene in the Texas Funeral sequence where the screen is completely black for a good 5 minutes, while all we hear are endless heaps of earth being piled upon the heroine’s casket. Brilliant.
Kill Bill: Vol.2 shows why Tarantino is one of the best American directors today. It’s evident in this movie that in his youth he had digested most of what pop culture had fed him, primarily in kung-fu flicks, cult classics, westerns, and comic books. He lovingly garnishes this movie with references that most viewers will miss, but at the end he proves that transcends all of his inspirations. You’ll see how he brings it all together: The Bride’s femininity, ferocity, and focus are apparent when she finally faces Bill. In the meantime, Bill’s exposition allows us a peek at the complexities of their relationship, and the reason for his past actions. In very Tarantino-like fashion, it all seems to make sense. The emotional impact at the end of the movie is quiet but great, and too much bloodletting would have ruined it.
If I am allowed one objection however, it is that the movie could have been tighter. I suggest you take your washroom or concession break at the beginning of two scenes: Budd late for work at the strip club, and The Bride meeting up with Bill’s mentor. The scenes slow down the pace considerably, and they could have been easily cut and explained in passing. However, these are only minor reservations for an otherwise awesome story and triumphant return of a great director. Watch KBv1, immediately follow it up with KBv2, and immerse yourself in the Tarantino universe. Have one helluva ride!
169.Basement Jaxx  
Basement Jaxx
Fittingly, in a city of jaw-dropping juxtapositions and cultural collisions, the last night of Basement Jaxx’s summer tour brought a hybridity and experimentalism to B1 Maximum that the Muscovite audience responded to in kind. Be it cheesy house, mental mosh-ups or Jamaican Gabba Street parties replete with skipping ropes, Moscow lapped it up and asked for more.
The set, percussion, DJ, drums and 3 horns provide a backdrop for 3 super-talented vocalists, an MC and guitarist and Basement Jaxx founder Felix Buxton, to run amok, and reflected the street party vibe at the roots of the Basement Jaxx route to popularity. The group draws upon the music of Brixton and London SW9, from the street sound of Jamaican ragga or The Clash to Saturday night house music and Sunday morning atonement with a church gospel choir to constantly surprise and uplift the audience by bringing a new vibe, a new twist, and countless costume changes.
Opening on an up and keeping it there, they brought the street vibe to Moscow, Jump’n’Shout had them high-kicking for starters before they stitched together three pieces from 2001’s Rooty and 2003’s Kish Kash that endeared singers Linda Lewis and Vula Melinga to all and sundry. The dancing was Jamaican, the singing was soulful, the horns were Latin and the beats were massive, yet it sounded like ska, or maybe hip-hop, or was that disco? It was loud though, very loud.
Four tracks in and it was time for “Take Me Back to Your House”, the video to which is saturated in Russian and soviet iconography and as such has received saturation rotation on MTV Russia. It was rather like seeing Prince in 1989, and standing agog as he played “Purple Rain” four songs in. Like, what were they going to do next? What about the encore?! Like Prince, Basement Jaxx had faith. They even chilled out for a bit – giving the white jump-suited horn section a Memphis moment before kicking into “Do Your Thing” from 2001’s “Rooty”, an Aretha meets Blues Brothers belter replete with manic Charleston dancing.
They did it again too, giving a big-up to label mates White Stripes by bashing out “Run for Cover”, before dropping the pace with a soulful “When the light is over now”, beautifully sung by Linda Lewis, whose extraordinary vocal prowess proved too much for the sound system, which frankly, should have been switched off altogether and must have been handled by a deaf 16 year old on speed, but more of that later.
The energy kept coming from stage centre, while video screens relaying the on-stage shenanigans to the gathered masses, filling Club B1 to about 3/4s capacity. Rooty’s “Get me off” was performed like Salt’n’Peppa (remember "Push it"?) were actually there. Ten times cheekier than Gwen Stefani, the girls loved it, both on stage and off. “Just Look Around”, (Yo Yo Yummy Yummy!) brought a dominatrix and a lime green track-suited belly dancer to make us smile, before things got totally out of hand. “Where’s Your Head At” was utterly lost in the sound – which was by now dangerously stupid – only matched by the on-stage cavorting of the Jaxx-ers, and the brilliant Horn Section costumed up as Klingon-Silverback-Ninja-Warriors in Tubeway Army’s castaways. Looked great, sounded terrible (it actually sounded like this at several points).
With that it was goodnight time, though a 20 minute African-Mambo multi-party singalong (It’s Basement Jaxx!) encore stretched the evening to 10.30, and brought the groups summer tour well and truly to an end. Right up to the end they were tight, together, having fun, and working hard, an infectious cocktail.
Groups come and go but a venue and its management remain. B1 Maximum has lead Moscow’s foray into quality musical nights out over the summer, offering a series of concerts appealing to a European/Western musical palette. For me, Air’s kaleidoscopic 2 ? hour set stands out in this respect though others would argue that Sonic Youth or Gogol Bordello are more worthy of mention, though perhaps I’m just showing my age. In short, Club B1 is a quality venue offering quality events with quality artists at Moscow prices. Basement Jaxx’s visit represents the latest efforts of Moscow’s more savvy music promoters to bring us a quality night out… as opposed to the Scorpions, again.
But, there is room for improvement. The sound was truly awful. The system regularly peaked at dangerous levels, prompting apologies on the band’s myspace site. If Club B1 wants to stay ahead of the posse of promoters and venues offering nights-out to Moscow’s revelers it will have to pay more attention to fundamentals such as this, and let the gloss take care of itself.
170.The Forgotten / By J.Ruben /  
The Forgotten / By J.Ruben /
A friend told me once before that if a movie runs exactly at the feature length of 90 minutes, watch out: it’s crap. At exactly 89? minutes, I guess I should have realized it sooner, as I don’t know who else among the total of 8 people in the theatre felt suspicious at the noticeable lack of trailers.
The premise follows: Telly Paretta (Julianne Moore) is a grieving mother, having lost her beloved 9-year old son 14 months ago in a tragic plane crash. This same incident also claimed the lives of eight other children, and has left an indelible mark on Telly’s life. She takes time off work, and her marital life suffers as well, and it’s no surprise that she’s seeing a psychiatrist to ease the burden of her loss.
Her psychiatrist, Dr. Munce (Gary Sinise), explains that she is confounding her life more even while treatment, suggesting that she is actually inventing a lot of the memories of her deceased boy. As time goes on, she starts to lose some valuables to remind her of her son, and so suspects Dr. Munce and her husband (Anthony Edwards) of collusion. Soon enough, Dr. Munce informs her of the big shocker: that her son was just a figment of her imagination!
In true big-budget thriller fashion, we realize that all is not what it seems, and we follow Telly and newfound ally in Ash Correll (Dominic West), another mourning parent who has gone through a similar experience. With the help of detective Ann Pope (Alfre Woodard), Telly and Ash piece together the complex puzzle that ultimately is far too much to swallow. SPOILER: Shhh… It involves aliens!
In what seems to be Hollywood’s over-reliance on twist-heavy suspense thrillers (we only have to thank M. Night Shyamalan for this), “The Forgotten” doesn’t bring anything new. Its hackneyed plot doesn’t quite live up to X-Files standards. What’s worse is that the characters seem to exist only for use within the actual movie itself, making it appear to Telly as if everyone she knows is involved in the grandest conspiracy scheme: a faithful yet doubting husband, a psychiatrist that you suspect knows more than what he lets out, a mysterious man that appears in key scenes, and an investigator willing to get to the bottom of it all.

I really can’t blame the filmmakers for this poor excuse of a film, as director Joseph Ruben seems to have done as much as he could with what would have been a better idea for a novella. He employs many overhead angles, just to add to the paranoia of being watched. He also uses a lot of blue-tinted hues in the overall look of the film, just to add to the somber mood, implying loss and despair. He also has a few beautifully-composed shots, particularly the repeating scenes at the playground. However, the film’s pacing could’ve been handled a lot better, as aside from an excellently directed crash scene, the rest of the movie – obligatory chase scenes and all – is a study in tedium.
I also can’t fault the cast, with particularly deep performances from critically-acclaimed actors Sinise and Woodard. Julianne Moore, one of the best actors in the business today, certainly does not disappoint. Her layered performance as the grieving yet relentless mother invokes so much sympathy that one just cannot help but wonder why her character was not in a better movie.
Satisfactory direction and performances aside, “The Forgotten” has nothing to offer a viewer who is expecting a thought-provoking suspense thriller, much like we have grown accustomed to. Frankly speaking, the story sucks. Unless you’re a huge fan of crash scenes or Julianne Moore, this is one to miss. Quite a forgettable experience.
171.Kronos / Kluster  
Kronos / Kluster
Since their formation in 1976, practically every major western composer has collaborated with the Kronos Quartet. They've premiered works by Philip Glass, John Cage, Luciano Berio, Stockhausen, Arvo Paart... they've championed the avant-garde, and recorded benchmark performances of Shostakovich and Bartok... whilst also sharing the stage with personalities as diverse as David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Brian Eno. But - how do you follow that? Although their Moscow gig was announced as a joint concert with Finnish concept-music duo Kluster (Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen), publicity attention inevitably focussed on the Kronoses themselves. With no concrete information about what they were going to play, MDM had sold-out largely on the Kronos name alone. Kluster are probably well known in their native Finland - but their fame hasn't yet travelled far. On the basis of this gig, however, it's probably too early to rush out and buy Kluster cds. Meanwhile, the Kronos Quartet faced the difficult task of living in their own shadow.
MDM is a crummy venue - a grotty worn-out soviet dump where time has stood still since 1987. Promoters blamed the single security gate for the 1.5-hour late start, but this was obviously far from the only reason - why had we been forced to gulp-down our drinks to take our seats ninety minutes too early? The mood was already sour when Kronos took the stage, without Kluster, for a very short first half. We had three pieces, plus an opening dedicatory lament to the Beslan victims – introduced in English by David Harrington, lead violinist of the quartet. There was some inventive use of sequencing and sampling, and some delicious lush textures laid-down by the viola and cello. The remained of the first half was also introduced by Harrington – and considering that the audience was over 95% Russian, it seems to be somewhere between carelessness and rudeness not to provide either a translation or a printed program? However, after only 30 minutes we were being herded out of the hall for the interval, so that lighting and electronics could be set-up for the second half.
To say the resulting sound/light show was underwhelming isn't saying much - in fact the only noticeable difference from the first half was a back-projection of Roehrich's three-holed tantric symbol, for no obvious reason. Attention was thrust back upon the music itself - and it was barely robust enough to support this attention. Announced as "work in progress", it was an improvisational piece for accordion, synth/sampler, and string quartet. In practice this amounted to eight different, although remarkably similar, slow crescendos. Each one peaked and dropped back to the pianissimo of the next. By the fifth of the series the fatal weakness of this paper-thin material was blazing brighter than any promised spotlight. Far from anything new at all, this infantile "look what an expensive synth I've got" approach was deep-rooted in the 1980's - and wholly out-classed even by veteran pieces like Tubular Bells (whose presence seemed to lurk in the background throughout). This was heavily derivative work any 2nd-year music-college student could produce - except that it wouldn't cost 1000+Rbs to hear student work. I wish I could say it had made me angry or left me fuming, but it failed to do even this - and just left me bored stiff. 1 out of 5 for effort, and really must do much, much better than this. If music came with sell-by dates, this was well past "consume-by".
172.Eric Truffaz Quartet  
Eric Truffaz Quartet
Legendary French cross-genre trumpeter Eric Truffaz made an all-too-brief appearance with his quartet (Marcello Giuliani, bass; Marc Erbetta, drums; and Patrick Muller, Fender-Rhodes) at Chocolate this week. How would the diners at this louche, lounge-lizard venue take to Eric’s latest material... which extends his exploration of rock idioms and experimental sounds?
They lapped it up, and begged for more. “It’s great in Russia – people come up on stage afterwards and hug and kiss us, they’re so pleased we came” explained Marc Erbetta. “It’s so different here to anywhere else”.“Yeah, we were in Nizhny Novgorod six years ago... and like, they drive you around the same block where the venue is three times, and then they kinda hint there is some special reason they did that? It’s definitely different here!” added Marcello Giuliani.
The same personnel line-up has been playing together now for 6-7 years – since the time of their last appearance in Russia, on a venturesome itinerary featuring Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Yaroslavl and Arkhangelsk as well as Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. All their material is original – they don’t play “standards” or covers – and evolved in extensive jamming sessions in a joint creative process. All the titles – released on the Blue Note label, and available in Moscow through the online store – carry joint credits for all the band members. This Moscow gig at Chocolate was a one-off however – for which the band had come specially, largely in connection with latest album Walk Of The Giant Turtle.
Although it’s barely visible, there’s extensive use of live electronics in the set. Sounds are sampled live, and then set-down as a track over which further extemporisation takes place. Eric pushes the trumpet’s ranges to the limits, with unconventional techniques like extreme pedal notes, and extensive half-valving to produce softened textures with delicate timbres... and wired mutes that feed to the huge soundboard that masters the overall sound. Every single texture is there for a purpose, and the result is a luscious lyricism that makes the horn sing seductively above a delicate matt-weave of sound.
The material is eclectic... hints of Miles and Zorn peer through, mixed-up deliciously with rocky rhythms or laid-back cool, free-form numbers follow on from melodically wistful explorations. “This is the good side of globalisation – we can mix it up however we want, a little of this and that” says Marc. The result is like a warmly-blended scotch – soft-centred, subtle, but with a unique identity of its own, rather than an uncomfortable mix of disparate parts. Ambient features too, especially in the final number – mixing samples from the natural world (frog-calls, Eric’s own voice) with trumpet-generated whale-calls, keyboard layovers and a final rocky adventure kicked into motion by Marc Erbetta’s joyful swingy drum-riff. Whole-tone scales added an other-worldly ethos of pointilliste mellifluousness – like Debussy after a few absinthes.
Chocolate is a pricey venue – the interior is an instant guide to the menu-prices. But you don’t have to dine, or even sit, and drinks at the bar for those who chose to chill-out on the comfy sofas are priced to encourage extensive lounging. The venue’s staff went out of their way to accommodate all-comers – whether the diners plunging into vintage champagnes over their exotic mains, or the beardy jazz-buffs cradling a four-dollar beer around the bar for the 90-minute set.
Come back soon, guys.
173.Silver Apples  
Silver Apples
One of the best things about Moscow over the past five years or so has been the growth in quirky, edgy venues taking over semi-derelict industrial sites and breathing new life into them. Proekt Fabrika’s Aktovy Zal arguably started the trend; Winzavod made it trendy and Krasnye Oktyabr made it almost too trendy. More recently Flacon has taken the same template to the north of the city – and is steadily carving out a reputation for interesting left-field acts.
The audience, almost inevitably, veers towards “cooler-than-thou”. Silver Apples, while a seminal act in many ways, hardly represent the apex of musical popularity. Formed in 1967 but disbanded within two years, the legend lay dormant until the march of rave, techno and IDM inspired new interest in old electronics and prompted a 90s revival. That saw the early albums re-released, but ended abruptly in near tragic circumstances when Simeon Coxe III was left with a broken neck after the tour van was forced off the road. Worse was to follow: drummer Danny Taylor died in 2005, and that seemed to be the end of the whole project. A handful of solo shows and festival appearances since 2007 has seen Simeon keeping the Silver Apples name alive, but it hardly accounted for why a decent-sized crowd of young Russians – far too young to remember even the 90s revival in many cases – headed to Dmitrovskaya to bellow their approval and call out for their favourite tracks. It would be tempting to suggest that genuine passion for the music was allied to a certain cultural one-upmanship, particularly given the whoops and whistles which greeted tracks which were still at the ‘unformed’ stage of their intros.
The music itself, though, was certainly deserving of attention. In the past electronic acts have come in for heavy criticism on these pages for delivering formless noodling with minimal audience interaction. Well, it would a lie to say that Simeon sprung onto stage as a fully-formed Iggy-aping rock god. That accident left his movements restricted, and he contented himself with a few words of greeting and a performance of his songs. But those songs carried enough to sustain the evening without any extras: the sound comes from an army of old-school oscillators and – now – some pre-programmed drum patterns. It blends radiophonic bleeping with a swirl of orchestrated electrics that becomes a precursor of everyone from Joy Division to the Pet Shop Boys, with any of them attempting a cover of the Doctor Who theme (the original, scary-as-hell 1960s version, of course). Throw in Simeon’s vocals – a dark, deadpan growl almost buried by his unique instrumental palate, and you’ve got the same kind of visionary music produced by the more celebrated likes of Brian Wilson and the other whacked-out late 60s noisesmiths. It’s little surprise that Simeon jammed with Hendrix, for example, and his on-stage persona – clad in black, leather Stetson prominent – underlines the vibe perfectly.
It makes for a fascinating show. At times it’s like hearing a pre-echo of industrial rock, another moment calls to mind New Order at their sparest and most intense. The stand outs, the likes of “I have known love”, “You and I” and “Misty Mountain” remain as powerful and fresh today as they were almost half a century ago – unlike so much music intended to sound futuristic, Silver Apples hasn’t dated. Instead it remains as sharp as ever. That’s a tribute to an artist focused on the music rather than the sound-effect. It might not always be easy listening, it might not even be ideal fodder for a night out, but it fully deserved the rapturous reception it got from the Flacon audience. For once, the promise of some alternative creativity was richly fulfilled.
As Ipods, Kylie lingerie and the Novy Bolshoi prove, sometimes, less can indeed be more. The latest evidence in support of that ancient proposition arrived at Krizis Janra on Friday night in the form of UK hip-hop collective One-Self. Appearing without their main attraction, lead Yarah Brava, this relatively unknown group still managed to send the packed crowd into orbit with a sumptuous set of inventive tunes and an MC master class from Blu Rum 13.
Starting in the unfamiliar role upfront as a result of the group’s injury crisis 13 made it clear from the start that this was not going to be just a face-showing exercise. “What’s up Maaascaaaaw?!” he asked as if someone had dropped a speaker on his foot as he took the stage. Judging by the ecstatic roars back from the crowd, the only thing up was that they had been starved of One-Life for a little too long. Now they were baying for music like an angry mob.
The unruly audience were certainly not what you would get at Club XIII, and I guessed from the Ladas drawing up outside that Krisis Janra was going to be unfamiliar territory. For a man who has spent the majority of his Moscow nights surrounded by posturing and pretension, this Pokrovka cafe was the antidote to elitny Moscow that I needed. Admittedly there is face control, but they appear to be checking nothing more than the length of your stubble, allowing enough patchy beards inside to make up a Kurt Cobain convention. Stranger still, labels were being worn on the inside of clothes and try as I might I could only see one pair of sunglasses. When I resorted to the bar to gather my thoughts in these new surroundings, what did a find but Baltika on tap! Strange times indeed, and though the crowd was young and bouncing the shock of finding a group of revellers who had not simply come to check each other out took a little time to get over. The Student Union must have been having a quiet night, or perhaps the snow had got too much for the tree-huggers of Baikal. Either way, I was glad to be amongst them. Unlike the fashionistas, these clubbers knew there music and as One-Life burst into their opening rhymes they got on with what they had come to do – they moshed.
Thanks to the high quality of the stage output, on this occasion moshing came easily. Blu Rum 13’s voice combines the smooth reggae feel of Arrested Development’s Speech with an aggressive rapid-fire delivery of an early Eminem. Somewhat confusingly he also bears a visual resemblance to Snoop Dogg that almost demands a double take. Using these core virtues the American filled the gap left by his co-singer’s absence so comprehensively that had he not mentioned her absence, I would have presumed he ran the show. With frequent resort to the fans, the front man played the crowd, drinking in the atmosphere as enthusiastically as the inter-song cognac. It was a pleasure to behold.
When he did step aside, there were occasional musical interludes from DJ Woody. Woody’s adolescent looks were unfortunately matched by some amateur mixes but the change in tempo did at least keep the set varied. Hitting the decks also allowed One-Self’s trademark ragga and world music flavours to the fore. Subtly woven into the general hip-hop vibe, these fresh sounds were lapped up by the crowd adding an infectious quality to the music. Some bounced from the balcony, others swayed on the stairs whilst a full contact sport ensued down in the mosh pit. Whatever your viewpoint, One-Self was hitting the spot.
Behind the group, both on stage and off, is Russian born DJ Vadim who’s polished production gives the project an unusual feeling of consistency. Given the local connection, he could have perhaps expected the warm reception his band received. However, by the end of the gig I was in no doubt this reaction was richly deserved for One-Self are not the Friday night journeymen I had been expecting. Their sound is original, their performance exciting and even without the silky, seduction of usual lead Yarah Bravo’s voice then they are a truly high quality outfit. Next time they are in Moscow I recommend you ditch the razor, follow the beards and make sure you check them out.
175.The Met: Anna Boleyn live in HD  
The Met: Anna Boleyn live in HD
Going to the cinema to watch an opera might seem a somewhat unlikely activity, especially here in Moscow where top-notch live performances are not exactly thin on the ground. But the city’s first experiments with screenings from New York’s Met Opera suggest the idea could be a big hit. Admittedly, opening night was something of a nailed-on crowd-pleaser. The latest golden girl of Russian opera, Anna Netrebko, taking on the title role in Donizetti’s Anna Boleyn, was always going to appeal to audiences starved of opportunities to hear one of their own perform on the local stage (pops recitals at Dom Muzyki, usually at exorbitant prices, don’t quite hit the spot for the cognoscenti). And, with a couple of other rapidly emerging singers on the playbill as well, it was little surprise that the main hall at 35mm was sold out.
Initially the experience is slightly disconcerting. Footage of a distant theatre filling up, punctuated by discreet messages from the sponsors: this isn’t quite the muted hubbub of an evening at the Bolshoi. And the audience seemed slightly unsure how to behave. From the mixture of ‘Night at the opera’ over-dressing to ‘Saturday night at the movies’ casual in the cloakrooms to a touching uncertainty over whether or not it was appropriate or ridiculous to applaud performers singing their hearts out over the ocean, it felt like most of us were learning our cues as well.
Regardless of the background, however, the show’s the thing. And the performance did not disappoint. Donizetti’s opera was his first big hit – at the 35th time of asking – and manages to wrap up the final days of ill-fated Henry VIII’s second wife in a dynamic and dramatic evening. OK, so at times the history is a bit creaky around the edges, but in effect this is from the same cultural stable as “Shakespeare in Love” – only tragic rather than comic. Nifty story-telling and some virtuoso performances make the whole thing hang together, assuming you’ve got a cast which is up to the job. And the Met has: Netrebko was always going to be the star of the show, tackling one of the most demanding roles with the kind of diva attitude that ensured she was always the focus of attention when on stage. As well as the vocal pyrotechnics demanded of a coloratura role like this, she also brought her character to life effectively – another detail of the opera-singer’s craft overlooked by those celebrity “greatest hits” recitals in international concert halls.
However, even if she took top billing, Netrebko was hardly alone in impressing. Bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov was a powerful Henry VIII, scowling and grimacing his way through the performance with just the right level of affronted megalomania. Yekaterina Gubanova, as the queen-in-waiting Jane Seymour, also gave a strong performance as a woman torn between her love for Henry and her loyalty to Anna, and there was much to enjoy in the ardent Richard Percy, sung by Stephen Costello.
One bonus for cinema-goers was a detailed presentation of the performance – in expat-friendly English which was easy enough to follow despite the simultaneous translation. Amid various fluffy, interval-fillings interviews with cast members there were more interesting segments about the attempts to render the costumes historically accurate. This is no easy task: representations of Henry’s court are few and far between, and most of them are head-and-shoulders portraits. Rather than tumble into the rumbustious, red-tunic regality of popular cliché, the production was largely decked out in somber tones – although historical accuracy was dampened by a chorus which represented the diversity of contemporary New York more than the rarified environment of Tudor England. But such nit-picking was swept away in a powerful performance which saw the evening fly by.
In the year that Bolshoi is set to finally re-open its main stage, some may question whether Moscow needs to import opera in this way. But the evidence of the first of the six screenings planned from the Met suggests that the answer is a resounding “yes”. After all, it’s cheaper than getting to New York … and it might just inspire people to explore the cultural thrills to be found in the city’s own theatres.
The Met: Live in HD is screened at four Moscow cinemas (and one in St. Petersburg). The next scheduled performance is on Oct. 29, with a production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Details at:
In music, longevity is no measure of quality. Music fans have long memories and deep pockets and bands are too often guilty of trying to exploit their adoring public. Moscow‘s gig-goers seem to have become particularly popular targets. You can barely go a week without another minibus full of wrinkled has-beens turning up to peddle old rope in a “definitely our last tour (we promise)” special appearance.
In the last couple of months we’ve had Slade (twice), the Bee Gees (despite one member having snuffed it), the KLF (please), and this summer even the creativity-proof Rolling Stones will be hitting Russian shores. With this in mind I think I can be forgiven for presuming Sparks’ first appearance in Russia, 35 years after their first album, was scheduled simply to shake the charity collection box in a new precinct. I could not have been more wrong.

Split over two nights at B2, Sparks in Moscow was an unqualified triumph. Indeed the reception on Monday night was so overwhelming that it prompted front man Ron Mael to pledge to return in the summer. 35 years to get here, and now they want to come back in 3 months. I can only hope for those that missed out that they got a double-entry visa; this was one of those concerts you felt a warm sense of smugness at having attended.
In my opinion, the remarkable success of the gig owed as much to a smart choice of play-list as the quality of the material itself. Facing an audience expecting some of their older floor-fillers (listened to on vinyl whilst sneaking out of Communist classrooms according to one reveller) you would have expected a heavy back catalogue bias. Instead, the American brothers split the concert 50:50.
First came a full run through of the less familiar (twentieth) new album “Hello Young Lovers”. The disc is brand spanking new, released on 6 February and bearing all the hallmarks of Sparks’ experimental, innovative genius, it is as refreshing as a spring dip in Lake Baikal. The fans warmed to the new stuff immediately with several singing along despite the album having been overlooked by radio stations in Europe let alone Russia. For me, “Perfume”, “Dick Around” and “(Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country” are some of the catchiest, cleverest tunes I have heard for ages and their omission from the mainstream is baffling.
Nevertheless, if the music wasn’t enough there was the colourful spectacle of straight-man Ron’s battles with his own video screen image or bursts on the air guitar to entertain. The band also used the screen to flash up their powerful lyrics and add a dose of slapstick to ease them through the album’s more difficult moments. There weren’t many.
In any case, anyone who did find the opening 90 minutes difficult to swallow had a whopping great bucketful of sugar to follow in the second half. The band cleared the stage and set about blasting the crowd into orbit with some of their most popular oldies. Beginning appropriately with “Aeroflot” and moving through “Happy Hunting Ground” and “Bon Voyage” to “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth”. Then a familiar introductory tinkle from Ron’s keyboard heralded the gig’s deafening crescendo - “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us”. Though he has probably done it more times than my Gran has had hot dinners, Russell delivered this 1974 hit with all the enthusiasm of a teenager doing his first gig.
Throughout this second half jamboree, Ron assumed his traditional waxwork pose at the keyboard whilst younger brother Russell jumped around like a jack-in-the-box. In both looks and mannerisms, they make an intriguing double act; like Alan Greenspan teaming up with Austin Powers. Backed up by a group that includes former Faith no More guitarist Dean Menta and Redd Kross bassist Steve McDonald the band’s music may defy categorisation but the sound is of unquestionable quality.
For thirty years Sparks have been the midfield workmen behind strikers like Queen, the Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode. Their new material is now setting the agenda for a whole new generation of rockers; Goldfrapp being one example. At the same time they put on one hell of a show, making them a must-see act regardless of their bulging back catalogue. If bands, like sportsmen, are only as good as their last performance, Sparks are at the top of their game. If you were remiss enough to miss out this time, make sure you catch them if immigration lets them back for a second go in the summer.
177.Front 242 (Version 2007)  
Front 242 (Version 2007)
Before reading this I suggest you watch this.There is a certain inevitability to most things in life – things tend to happen with a delightful, comforting, mind boggling or infuriating, consistency, depending on your point of view. One man's Lebowski is another man's Dude. For example, a stockbroker might argue that Darwin's theory of evolution emphasizes competition over co-operation, the whole survival of the fittest thing. While a biologist or botanist might stress natural selection as less about survival and more an expression of the interdependence of beings and their environment. One way or the other all would probably agree that as environments change, animals change. Anthropologically there's consensus that as things change, people change and whichever came first is not important. Fair enough, good and bad stuff happens, things change, we get by as best we can, adapt, innovate, move on.Then there's the cockroach theory – you know, the one that says the most cunningly and perfectly devised military machines on the planet haven't changed for over a million years and are in fact the ultimate expression of a primordial militarism deemed somehow terribly impressive by people who believe human history is all about war, rather than em… not. Accordingly, life as we know it is a battle against your "enemies", real or imagined, who ultimately become one's reason to live."Fascists? No Lonnie, worse… they're Nihilists."This permanent state of readiness for war not only explains the philosophy of neo-conservatism (hardly in itself liberating) but it also tells us why cockroaches are so cool: because their survival demonstrates how we can best encapsulate the history of humanity. It's the philosophy that finishes with the ultimate in self-justification, saying "…for I'm the meanest mother f#cker in the valley". Fightin' talk thus.Front 242 (that's zwei vier zwei to you), it seems, are the cockroaches of electronic music. There were four of them in Apelsin on Saturday – to whom respect should be given as the sound was great, the staff helpful and it never took longer than two minutes to get a drink. Comprising two frontmen, a keyboard-player/programmer and a drummer who worked off the powerful programmed beats yet really didn't add any extra depth to the sound coming through the circuits, Front 242 are quite old. They started life nestled into the (mainly German) techno scene in the early 1980's and while they are experienced performers, for sure, perhaps they've just got the wrong ideas about themselves.Richard 23 (Richard Jonckheere) opened the show bopping around in sleeveless military fatigue with fingerless gloves, ubiquitous wraparounds, slightly be-muscled though fleshy nonetheless. In his day clothes he seems a very approachable chap, and there was no faulting his energy. In fact there was no faulting anyone's energy… loads of effort, lots of pumping fists, finger pointing and that funny industrious bopping you'd see the lads from the gym do when they're off their heads on E. Remember that kind of non-stop ergonomically efficient hammer-bopping with the odd move from Madonna's vogue video thrown in to add some sense of mystique? This was it, here in 2007, in Moscow. I hadn't seen it for years.. not since MC Hammer..Vocals were divided into two categories: American football coach delivery from our abovementioned friend, or a Rammstein-esque graveltone delivered utterly without irony by another shaded booted and gloved techno-muppet (Singer jean Luc De Meyer – here he is singing Baudelaire's poems with his group Modern Cubism. Seriously, I'm not joking). Having heard of them as "pioneers" of electronic music, I expected at least an iota of intelligence strewn amongst the zwei vier zwei fingerless glove and sleeveless we-mean-business-brigade, but alas in 2007 there was none. They may have been clever, they cited Wagner, Shostakovich, the Italian futurists, Rossolo and Graphsim to beard-scratchers favorite journalist Simon Reynolds in Melody Maker in 1991, but it seems they've managed to avoid any other influences since about 1983, when they released their first album Geography.Even my mate sleepy Dennis the boxer who'd seen them before was nonplussed by the sheer, well, stupidity of it all. Dennis is off the sauce though, so may not be as compos mentis as we gave him credit for. He could've seen someone else entirely a couple of years back.Still, the sound never distorted (this is where Apelsin have one up on B1) despite the mountains of whumping bass on offer. The show opened with impressive graphics running on the video walls either side of the stage, with most of us eventually preferring to watch the screens rather than the gym/stage.Programmer Daniel B. kicked us off with a thumping intro to Welcome to Paradise, the dramatic effect of which was somewhat undermined by Richard23's appearance in military garb bopping like Michael Flatley on speed. But as the drummer and second vocalist were added to the line-up things got a little mushy. Football coach and uber-soldier swapped lead-singer roles throughout but never looked like anything was choreographed – that they'd put some work into the stage show. This is rather surprising considering they're supposed to have been playing music together since before most of you were born. Instead we got cheesy arms round shoulders, and my favorite: kneeling and pointing through the roof towards some distant greater purpose or good which they allude to in their music, in the depth of their lyrics, the profundity of their philosophy. Bollocks.At this stage I would like to briefly, and not altogether tangentially mention the wearing of sunglasses on stage in dark rooms. There are a few performers who could and can wear sunglasses on stage (and here I'm speaking about Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles or The Blind Boys of Alabama). I've got a feeling that on Saturday our posers with delusions of grandeur wore sunglasses not to fool us into thinking they're cooler than they really are, but to fool themselves into thinking it. They could have taken off their shades, said hello to the 300 odd devoted fans, but they didn't. They could have looked 300 people in the eye and said to them "yes, as our music asks you to believe in ideas, we show you the whites of our eyes and yes, we believe it!". But they didn't. Anyone who wears shades throughout a gig has something to hide and is either Prince or shouldn't be onstage. This was cabaret.To be honest, the best bits were when they played pieces from their early albums, and that was an encore. Here the key changes, song structures, and beats were more sophisticated, subtle and yes, intelligent. One song reminded me of Depeche Mode's "New Life", for example. But the unhappy evidence on the basis of Saturday's set-list is that while Underworld, Orbital, Aphex Twin, Prodigy, and even Scooter explored technology's potential as a medium for music during the 90's and up to now, Front 242 explored music's possibilities as a medium for technology. Their adherence to the ideas of the twentieth century started out as a form of modernism (constructivism was a guiding principle in their latter years), but is now frankly embarrassing to the point that their cringe-inducing fear-mongering would not be out of place at a Nashi convention.Jack-hammer bass drums and de-ne-ne-ne keyboards were cool in 1982 (remember the start of Kim Wilde's "Kids in America?"), but that was 25 years ago. Grunge reminded us that in order to be heavy, in order to rock, you had have to have guitars. Like, even the Prodigy had a guitarist when were at their most pompous, but the Fronters just had their keyboards… and when you're trying to be heavy, to be hard, to rock, but dance and do justice to your fingerless gloves, then keyboards are about as out of place as an expat in Petrovich when the school disco's on. Things are out of whack, the centre cannot hold. Guitars go well with muscles such as Richard23's but muscles and keyboards just look wrong, morally wrong. No matter how bulgy your biceps, if you stand behind a keyboard you look like a puff – it's the legacy of the 1980's, just ask any heavy metal band.Anyhow – turning music into technology was clever in the 70s, all the Germans did it (Einsteunde Neubaten, Can, Kraftwerk, Nina Hagen even). In der shule von industrielle uber music Front 242 may have been innovators in 1983, who sadly now they represent the no-necks, the jocks. In my part of the world they'd be strapping 11-toed fuckers lured down from the mountains with raw meat who can kick and catch a ball while in Russia they'd be Duma deputies. Not the brightest, but a force to be reckoned with.They are nihilist soldiers at the gates of oblivion striving for something to strive against, and as such, Saturday's performance was an honest no-frills expression of a mentality which defiantly stands up to its enemies and shouts "no surrender!". This is fine if you believed Star Wars, of you see the world as a battle between good and evil, black and white, Christian and Muslim, Democrat and Republican, anarchist and fascist.Front 242, it seems, will just keep doing what they're doing, regardless of their (ir)relevance (Apelsin was less than half full), regardless of how things have changed, ignorant of the damage they do to minds and to music: they are soldiers, they are Donald Rumsfeld, they are OMON: a stripped down, empty, single purpose unintelligent military machine – the cockroach - leaving the geneticist or botanist, the true holders of Darwin's heritage, wondering where have all the flowers gone.I'll leave the last word to Dennis "It wasn't supposed to be like this".
178.Andy Warhol and Russian Pop Art exhibitions  
Andy Warhol and Russian Pop Art exhibitions
The chips on the shoulders of cultural critics are many. Chief among them are the seeming lack of standards for defining art (“is Damien Hirst’s cow in formaldehyde really art?”) and the ability of pop icons to gain and hold onto fame by manipulating their image rather than their craft (“I felt like the 'P' was getting between me and my fans,” the newly-monikered Diddy remarked recently). As two new exhibitions at the New Tretykov Gallery demonstrate, pop artists make reinventing the self and erasing the lines between the beautiful and pedestrian into their own art forms.
Andy Warhol: Artist of Modern Life” provides a comprehensive look into the artist’s career, beginning with his work in advertising during the 1950s, when he first moved to New York, to his collaborations with young artists (Basquiat, Mapplethorpe, Schnabel) in the 1980s, by which time he had become king of the New York cultural scene. Warhol’s interest in the interplay between mass-culture images and the self are on display in his famous silk-screen portraits. Present are his iconic images of Jackie O, Elvis, Mick Jagger, and Liz Taylor, not to mention himself. Warhol’s interest in representing the self is also captured in photographs of some of his favorite personalities, including Marilyn Monroe. Not to be missed though are photos of the marginal, the famous, and the marginally famous making up Warhol’s New York. The sets dedicated to Candy Darling, a Long Island transvestite who gained her own notoriety in the city, and Edie Sedgwick, who starred in many of Warhol’s films, only to be fatally saved by “associates” of Bob Dylan (so notes the text accompanying the photos), communicate the energy, novelty, innocence, and tragedy lived by Warhol and those around him. Warhol’s experimentation with the forms and subjects of art continues in the still-lifes presented at the exhibit. The paintings and silk-screens of everyday objects-a telephone, a Colt revolver, the infamous Campbell soup cans – serve as chronicles of a cultural moment when the boundaries between the artful and the everyday were dismantled.
The blurring between the ordinary and artistic is also exhibited in “Russian Pop Art.” Like the Warhol exhibit, “Russian Pop Art” is set up chronologically, running from Mikhail Roginsky’s and Ilya Kabakov’s work with everyday objects in the 1960s (matchbox, door, iron) to Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe’s work, “Monroe-Warhol-Monroe,” an avtoportret of the artist dressed up as Marilyn fashioned after Warhol’s famous Monroe icons. While the sheer newness of these works for those of us from the West makes them interesting, a few pieces stand out. Yuri Vasilyev’s assemblage, “The Suffering of Modern Woman”, depicting the domestic life of a Russian housewife through a composition of photographs, copper wire, razor blades, and doorbells, makes a powerful visual statement. And the paintings of Alexander Vinogradov and Vladimir Dubossarsky, current darlings of Russian art in the West, provide a “portrait of our time” through eroticized and glossed-up images of fashion designers, strippers, yappies, mafia, and the like. If more politically-minded than the work of Warhol, the pieces in this collection continue the reflection and fascination with the everyday that inspires the pop art movement and vexes those who would rather keep the masses outside the museum gates. Read more
Andy Warhol: Artist of Modern Life” and “Russian Pop Art,” from September 14th to November 13th, the New Tretyakov Gallery, 10 Krymsky Val. Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 8pm, last entry 7pm. Metro Oktyabrskaya, Park Kultury. Telephone: 230-7788/1378.
179.Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason / By B. Kidron /  
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason / By B. Kidron /
I’m not the biggest fan of chick flicks. I didn’t see the first Bridget Jones movie (“Bridget Jones’ Diary”), but counting myself as one of the many Russian-deficient cineastes in Moscow who are always starving for the next English-language movie to come out on theatres, I just had to make an exception. After all, with the sheer amount of advertising this movie received in posters, postcards, and billboards, I just had to give it a chance and find out if it was worth all the hype.
I’m very glad that I did.
It certainly was the biggest premiere that I’ve ever seen in America Cinema, one that made use of every available seat in the theatre. You can thank the massive amount of publicity of course, but you can also thank the strength of its built-in audience from the books and the first film. And besides, this movie was good, especially for a chick flick!
Set a couple of months after BJD, the movie continues to follow the life and happenings of Bridget Jones, played by Renee Zellweger. It’s a new phase in Bridget’s life, so it begins with a new entry in her celebrated diary. Having discovered true love with the man of her dreams in Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), throughout the movie she finds herself having to contend with Mark’s “high-flyer” status and social circle, all the while slowly losing the hope of him asking for her hand in marriage.
While Mark’s career as a Human Rights lawyer is quickly rising, Bridget is struggling with more degrading assignments as a TV journalist. She finds herself losing the battle in competing with Mark’s colleague Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett) for quality time, and is later sent off to Thailand to meet with Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), her former boss and boyfriend. Laughs are long and loud in the Thai scenes, especially Bridget’s first time encounter with mushrooms… Magic!
Such as how it would be in a diary, Bridget’s life seems to progress in a narrative of episodic fashion, finding herself caught in one comedic situation after another. Depending on your experience in knowing people like Bridget, these situations can either be looked at as genuinely hilarious or hilariously genuine. In the midst of laughing at her creating many embarrassing moments for herself, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her misfortune and admiration for the way that she continues to plug away, despite her many obstacles and shortcomings.
The problem with this format is that each occurrence in Bridget’s life is actually just a plot device that perpetuates the story and acts as some sort of comedic/dramatic foreshadowing. Even the least sophisticated of viewers will realize the divinely inspired purpose of Bridget’s drug bust in Bangkok, and how the subsequent events will conveniently wrap it all up in one cute package worthy of the indefatigable Bridget. The Force is strong with this one…
Plot considerations aside, the film stands well from excellent direction, soundtrack, and performances. Even with the Mushrooms Scene, the movie manages to retain its hilarity without reaching “American Pie” standards. Credit director Beeban Kidron, especially for the ease in which uninitiated viewers (like me) can easily get immersed into this special world. In addition, the soundtrack fits flawlessly, provided mainly by female artists – augmenting Bridget’s strength in her femininity.
Finally, the performances were absolutely outstanding, especially from the leads. It’s cool to see Hugh Grant relish his return as the sniveling scoundrel in Cleaver, and Firth delivers yet again another masterful performance, this time as the fastidious Mark. Ultimate honors go to Zellweger though, for playing the title character in what seems to be a role made with her in mind. Her charisma easily shines throughout while playing the plump and plucky Bridget; one can easily see what makes her so especially desirable to these men, despite her intended unattractiveness.
Bridget is a girl who’s in her mid-30’s and hopelessly in love, the type of woman that exists strictly in the fictional universe. Indeed, if there were such a thing as a Bleeding Hearts Fan Club, she would be its president. I can sense in myself that the thing I found most appealing in her character was the thought that despite her numerous failures in the realm of love and romance, her indomitable spirit allowed her to continue baring her heart and soul with each romantic affair. This might not be a novel approach in romantic comedies, but certainly one made easily believable by the writing and performance of the Bridget Jones character. I had this warm and inviting impression throughout the movie, and I couldn’t help but sport a wistful smile even after the movie finished.
I’m still not a fan of chick flicks, but you can count me in as a fan of Bridget Jones.
180.Nowhere to Go but Up aka Happy End  
Nowhere to Go but Up aka Happy End
America Cinema
By Robert Lees
“Nowhere to go but up”, is director Amos Kollek’s first attempt at a romantic comedy and is a blatant money making exercise which hopes to cash in on the current popularity of French actress Audrey Tautou.
The story is simple: an aspiring foreign actress comes to America to make it big. She balances numerous of menial jobs while trying to fit in casting sessions and auditions. She encounters Jack, a screenwriter who is suffering from writer’s block. He watches her from a distance as she sleeps rough in his garden and writes a film about her. She gets the part in his film, becomes a star and then they fall in love. It has all the ingredients of a successful romantic comedy; a good story line and star actors, but somehow it manages to go badly wrong
The choice of Tautou in the role of Val Chipzik, an idealised French actress trying desperately to get her big break in Hollywood, is understandable. In the 2001 French hit film Amelie, she played the romantic waitress who tried to make other people’s dreams come true and in her English language debut “Dirty Pretty Things”, she played an immigrant trying to make it in a foreign culture. However in “Nowhere to go but up”, Tautou fails to live to the promise of her earlier films.
Even though “Nowhere to go but up” is a comedy it has to be plausible enough to get the audience to believe in it. At times it is too far fetched to be credible. As beautiful as Audrey Tautou undoubtedly is, it is unlikely that she would look that good if she really did sleep rough on the streets. Secondly when was the last time a successful Hollywood writer did his washing in a public laundrette? Do they not sell washing machines in the USA anymore?
There are a few mildly amusing scenes and the odd funny joke but there is nothing that makes the audience laugh out loud. Justin Theroux puts in a relatively good performance as Jack, the screenwriter, but is let down by some woeful dialogue and hammy acting on the part of Tautou.
Tautou however cannot carry all the blame for the failure of the film. The writers and casting directors must take some responsibility. The film is littered with a whole plethora of mediocre and clich?d characters played out with little conviction by a cast who realise that the film is little more than a vehicle for it leading actress.
In the supporting roles Jennifer Tilley cannot quite pull off the ridiculous part of Edna the lesbian ex convict poet. The same can also be said of Jenna Lamia whose performance as the slightly dopey wannabe actress, Sparkle, would have looked out of place in a school nativity play.
The Only Way is Up is a contemporary reworking of the 1961 hit, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. However this latest offering fails to rekindle the magic of the original. Where Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard had an alluring on-screen chemistry, Audrey Tatou and her co-star, Justin Theroux are entirely unconvincing. The earlier had a fast paced and witty script whereas the latter is unnatural and entirely predictable.
It really only succeeds in highlighting the limitations of its lead actress, Audrey Tautou. The success of the whole film ultimately rests on her and she is incapable of carrying it off. Her lack of comic talent is cruelly exposed. Where she was quirky in Amelie and so natural in Dirty pretty things, she appears wooden and forced in this latest effort.
If she wants to shed her ‘Amelie’ tag, Audrey Tatou will have to move away from these cloyingly sweet roles and until she loses her strong French accent she will be limited to playing immigrant roles. “Nowhere to go but up” is not one of her better films and if an entertaining romantic comedy is the order of the day, then it is best left alone.
181.Black Rebel Motorcycle Club   
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
I fell in love with a sweet sensation
i gave my heart to a simple chord
I gave my soul to a new religion
Whatever happened to you?
Last Thursday, something serious happened, something really important. The two great religions of modern man collided in a moment of cultural fury. Football met rock'n'roll in a face-off, and football lost. I'm not going to speak about Russia's loss to Spain in the European Championship. No. I’m on about something less cataclysmic, but more immanent, warmer. A shot in the arm delivered in 2 hours, equivalent in potency to the 10 day seismic party that shook this great nation as their heroes pirouetted over the fields of Innsbruck, Salzburg and Basel, where they tragically came a-cropper.
I'm talking about rock'n'roll. This was rock'n'roll. If the Cure, right, if they totally loved Led Zeppelin when they were young... no... if The Cult were Cureheads.. no, if Spiritualized ever got their shit together or Oasis really, really had balls.... no no no. You see, I'm grasping at straws, because I'm starting with a British band. Let’s face facts. Today, the 4th of July 2008, it is appropriate that we remind each other that America gave rock’n’roll to the world. Europe didn’t, Africa neither, and Russia not at all. America did. And this is why so many British or European bands who love rock’n’roll have to, at some stage, go to America. It’s a pilgrimage. Some understand the journey (Stones, Led Zep, U2) and mature as artists as they reach back into their own roots. Others fail embarrassingly (Oasis). America is the melting pot, it’s the bridge for wherever you want your rock’n’roll to go. Europe could never handle something as twisted and lonely as the American South to have emerged. There’s not enough space.
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC), who’s performance at Moscow's B2 last Thursday is presently under discussion, are American. They live in LA, and hail from San Fran. But lately they’ve spent some time in the South. And that’s really important. I came across some comparisons with Oasis, and frankly find that very hard to accept. BRMC's music is a much more evolved, astute and intelligent beast than the shouters from Manchester. To use the aborigine expression BRMC trace a song line from their urban west coast roots to the heart of the American South. This is the revolutionary music of the southern swamps, the bridges, the heat, and this is why they should be proud. They are American; their music has a seamless undeniable sprit that traces an audible path from college radio to Lomax anthropological recording.
“If you look directly at something, it’s in-apprehend able”
In the documentary Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus musician Jim White looks under the rocks and stones to find some truth about the American South: “To find the gold tooth in God's crooked smile”. It is a profound film about real people and the stories they tell each other about themselves. BRMC brought their blues with them and generously shared it with us – dragging up from the swamps an evening of such sonic intensity (respect to B2 as the sound was SUPERB), such feeling, that I simply closed my eyes and listened, and what I heard was a thing of beauty. Rancid angry guitar-lead verses punctuated by euphoric beach boy harmony choruses, finger picking soulful blues, 8 minute atmospheric guitar workouts, delivered out of a barrel of a gun.
Robert Levon Been (Bass), Peter Hayes (guitar), and drummer Leah Shapiro (who frankly does a better job live than the temporarily indisposed drummer Nick Jago, if the evidence on You Tube is to be believed), literally beat us into submission in a venue that delivered atmosphere and conviviality in equal parts. Been and Hayes share vocals, often alternating verses and chorus in what I can't resist calling a “twin vocal attack”, for the laugh. They enjoy it too by the looks of things and do it, I would suggest, because they can.
”Weapon of Choice” burned the room with a white noise chorus perfectly contrasted against a “get-yourself-arrested” low down dirty riff underpinning (shared) verses. How refreshing it was to be in a Moscow club and listen to 300 music lovers chant “I won’t waste my love on a nation” in unison. From there it was into an 8 minute ”Ain't no easy way”: a primal southern juju hoe-down played (live) with a delayed electric (not a resonator) and death-echo harmonica. Think Black Sabbath playing Muddy Waters in an echo-chamber. During ”Spread your Love” they came closest to Spiritualized, who I've seen twice, but decimated the British pretenders with a burning driven piece of blues, where Been and Hayes once again shared verses and joyously combined in a chorus. Stipe had Mills, these guys have each other. They of course played ”Love Burns”, a genuine crowd pleaser and followed it up with “Need Some Air”, in an obvious nod to heroes the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Hayes then treated us to two solo finger-picked pieces of southern blues poetry that sadly lamented the losses, admitted his failings “I been living on a fault line”, and humbly gave thanks for the here and now, commanding respectful silence in a venue almost full to capacity. “Faultline” has us all singing. Been provided an enjoyable cameo when, sitting on a monitor, he tuned his guitar for about 3 minutes before delivering “Weight of the world” (“It has to be right!” he explained).
It was all carried off effortlessly. These guys are the real deal – members of the church. Every song, however, broody, mean, vulnerable or angry, possessed the essence of a great pop song, that instant mind erasing quality where all you can hear, is all you can feel.
Churches, prisons, bars, forests, mountains were almost perceptible in the black noise delivered from the stage. People openly turned to me and started explaining how lucky they felt to be there. There was a little crowd surfing (why not?) and a lot of respect for a band that have to be amongst the best in the world at the moment.
Each band member played with a punk intensity matched by the others, but each had their own style, made their own noise. To fully apprehend this group you listen to the parts but are moved by the whole (Pixies, Beatles, Smashing Pumpkins). I honestly have not heard anything so utterly convincing, so demanding of attention, since the Pixies humiliated the Red Hot Chili Peppers in front of 120,000 people in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 2004, or Motorhead doing the same to Black Sabbath in 1981 Dublin's Dalymount Park. They may be young lads, but BRMC is maturing into a deeply powerful black wall of sound that embraces, cajoles, suffers and inspires. This is life-affirming blues, anger is a gift, remember. “Suicide is easy, what about the revolution?”
BRMC rightfully espouse a musical politics that is angry, that seeks revenge for the travesties perpetrated on American culture by American politics. And they are one of the reasons why I am jealous of my American friends. This cocktail of roots, blues, rock, roll, Jesus and mind-twisting California was enough to make my skin tingle and my ears happily bleed. This was a communion, and it was a privilege to be there.
I told Polina twice that the gig was like the first and last chapter of a book, where all the routes and roots that stretch out from the beginning return, the same, but different, having been on the journey. If you love rock'n'roll you have to see this band.
182.Cold Mountain  
Cold Mountain
It’s the last year of the American Civil War. A confederate soldier escapes from a front line military hospital and sets off on the long walk home to Cold Mountain. Avoiding death and capture, he crosses the country and is reunited with the woman he loves. It’s as simple as that! Well…not quite. A star-studded cast, a Romanian mountain range, a story of deadly war and desperate love all blend together in an award-winning film, which proves to be as emotionally flat as it is visually breathtaking. It is love, Jim, but not as we know it…
The story evolves along two separate lines: We follow Inman (Jude Law) who after being injured in battle, deserts from the Front and struggles to make his way home. And back on the mountain we observe Ada (Nicole Kidman), the southern belle he loved but had to leave behind. Inman’s trip is both helped and hindered by the various people he meets along the way, providing us with some of the most meaningful parts of the film. Ada’s fate seems uncertain after the sudden death of her father, as she is left alone, totally unprepared for the harsh realities of rural life, proud, stubborn and useless. Farm girl Ruby (Renee Zellweger) arrives and soon has both Ada and the house in a fit state to survive the war. Their friendship becomes the only really developed relationship of the film.
Just as in ‘The English Patient’, writer/director Anthony Minghella weaves the two strands of the story using a mixture of chronological scenes and flashbacks, with a voice-over narrative taken from Ada’s letters to Inman. Although seemingly precarious at the beginning, the technique works well, serving to highlight the contrasts of the two separate fights for survival.
Another Minghella trademark to be seen in this film is his love for vast and grandiose landscapes. Set in North Carolina but shot in Romania, the film is endowed with long, wide indulgently sweeping shots of snow-capped mountains and unspoiled forests which stretch as far as the eye can see. Even the gruesome battle scenes are full of depth and scale, illustrating the awe-inspiring levels of human loss on the wide open blood-soaked battle fields.
The beauty of the scenery can be rivaled only by that of the leading lady. No matter how torn are her clothes, or how unkempt her hair, Nicole Kidman manages to grace every scene with her un-spoilable fairy-tale looks. Paired with Zellweger’s understated beauty and charm, the two leading ladies are worth watching if only for the sake of aesthetics!
For indeed unlike these women’s beauty, their acting certainly leaves something to be desired. Ada’s role requires pouting and crying which Kidman manages quite well but fails to add to, whereas Ruby’s unrefined earthiness and no-nonsense attitude seems (despite the Academy award) to be somewhat thickly laid on by Zellwegger. Jude Law’s good looks are well-hidden under a beard and some dirt, and he appears convincingly haggard by the time he reaches home. But while his acting fares better than that of the women, it is the secondary roles which really steal the show. Ray Winstone excels in his role as the evil Mr Teague; Philip Seymour Hoffman is as splendid as ever, in the part of a desperate and promiscuous priest; Finally, Nathalie Portman and Kathy Baker provide powerful performances as female characters we can actually believe in.
Despite its many encouraging factors, Cold Mountain has one major flaw: The completely unbelievable plot. Inman and Ada’s sole motivation for survival is the supposed intensity of their love for one another, despite the fact that their relationship only ever amounted to a mere few words and a hurried kiss. Who are they trying to kid? We understand that war-time romance is accelerated by the urgency of life in the face of death, but please!! 3 years?? The sickeningly gooey language used by the lovers is even mocked by another of the characters, but that does not make it any easier to bear. The success of the trip is improbable enough, but the motivation behind it is sheer nonsense.
From the start, we are drawn by the quality of the film-making and at the same time repelled by the lack of plausible action and sentiment. Regrettably, what we gain in historical understanding and social comment, we lose in the absence of basic heartfelt emotion. A great director, good acting, fantastic scenery…and a lousy plot! It’s always a shame to see a good film ruined. I don’t care how many Oscar nominations it received, Cold Mountain doesn’t reach anywhere near the heights of its potential.
183.The Human Stain  
The Human Stain
America Cinema 
By Robert Lees
The Human Stain is the latest novel to be given the Hollywood treatment. Phillip Roth’s controversial novel is certainly difficult to adapt to the screen but it is debatable whether director, Robert Benton, could have made a worse job.
It seems as if the whole approach to the film is to throw in a few big stars (Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins), add a few contentious issues, a liberal sprinkling of sex and then hope for the best.
The film is set in Athena, a sleepy lakeside town on America’s East coast. Hopkins plays Cameron Silk, a renowned College professor who is fired from his job after making apparent racist remarks. His wife dies suddenly from the ensuing shock and sends his world into turmoil. Time moves on and he goes to see writer, Nathan Zuckerman, in an attempt to help him clear his name. Zuckerman declines to help Silk but the two still become good friends.
Silk’s chance encounter with the trashy Faunia Farley results in an unlikely love affair. Both their troubled pasts, not to mention, Farley’s psychotic ex-husband lead to predictably tragic results.
The success of the film relies on the audience dispending all disbelief. Its major weaknesses lie in its casting. Its two leads, both talented screen actors, just cannot be convincing in the roles they play. Hopkins should never have been chosen for the part of Silk. Not matter how skilled or experienced he is, he rather obviously will never pass for a black man, and Cameron Silk is supposed to be black. Albeit a very light skinned black man who overcomes the bigotry of pre-Luther King America by abandoning his race and taking on a Jewish identity.
Nicole Kidman’s character, Faunia Farley, fails to be convincing. She oscillates from unstable white trash slut who thinks only of her next one nightstand to dignified and deep spiritualist, capable of eloquent and moving speeches. The two sides of her character just are just too different to be believable.
The on-screen chemistry between the two leads is also problematic. It lacks any warmth or tension. But who could really blame Nicole Kidman? A beautiful young woman in her prime is asked shed her clothes with a rather unattractive, rather old and wrinkly pensioner and then look as though she is enjoying it. It would take a superhuman effort plus bundles of talent to pull this off. Only in a Hollywood film could two so different and mismatched characters meet on a roadside and within five minutes be in bed making passionate love.
The script and the direction are weak and fail to cover satisfactorily the major themes of Roth’s novel. The irony of the story, a black man accused of racism is highlighted through the use of flashback to Coleman Silk’s youth. The early Silk, played by Wentworth Miller, seems to have little in common with the elderly Silk and the connection between the too is difficult to see. The flashbacks are inserted into the film in random places and serve only to complicate the plot. The power of this original idea is gradually lost.
Although the book’s major theme is unsuccessfully dealt with, the film might otherwise have been resurrected by becoming an above average thriller. However Robert Benton manages to waste even this opportunity by needlessly flashing forward at the very beginning of the film and showing the deaths of both Farley and Silk at the hands of Farley’s ex-husband. All dramatic tension is spoiled and as a result we get a disappointing mess, which fails to utilise the talents of its actors or realise the potential of the novel itself.
For those who have money to burn and time to waste then the Human Stain is to be recommended. However if a good story, strong performances and clever direction is required then this film should definitely be avoided.
184.Birds II  
Birds II
Directed by: Luc Jacquet. Written by: Michel Fessler, Luc Jacquet. Starring: a colony of emperor penguins. 85 min. France.
By Sam Gerrans
Review top sheet: this is a shortish documentary, and this review is tailored to suit.
The film features a colony of emperor penguin in their native Antarctic as they battle with the elements to reach their breeding ground and reproduce.
The narration is positioned somewhere between a documentary and a free male-female interpretation of the subjects’ inner dialogue. Some of it works and some of it, frankly, is a little silly. But the footage is engrossing and speaks for itself.
The film is in French with Russian subtitles. If you don’t know either language, get someone who does to whisper the key developments to you at strategically important moments and you’ll have no problem following the plot.
Comments: emperor penguins freezing to death in a barren wasteland.
Now, if that doesn’t imply a wide scope for drama to you, I understand. But, as I discovered, the sorrow, joy and even romance of a penguin’s life leaves “The Waltons” looking like a houseful of pedantic accountants conducting an inventory.
The film paints a portrait of refined, dignified creatures blessed with impressive social cohesion and an eerily human capacity for incongruous – almost contradictory – sets of characteristics: at once clumsy yet graceful, waddling yet streamlined, pedestrian yet exquisite, stoical yet affectionate.
Penguins demonstrate a heroic, uncomplaining persistence in the face of a climate that makes Moscow in February look like the Algarve in June. And if you’ve done a few Moscow winters, you’re going to respect that one.
When you see what penguins go through to reproduce, you’ll realise that hanging around in a Circle Line station with a bunch of daffodils for a date who is now so late the flowers have begun to wilt is, by compassion, no big shakes.
See the film and learn why penguins rock.
Sam Gerrans is a freelance writer and translator:
185.Kaiser Chiefs  
Kaiser Chiefs
As gigs go, this one was in danger of winding down to a conclusion as disappointing as Russia’s Euro 2012 football campaign: a highly promising start gave every hope of a triumph in the making, but things were starting to sag a little as the latter stages came into view. And then, out of nothing, came the moment of magic that the fans had been waiting for. Spotting an unguarded passage down the right wing of the arena, Ricky Wilson timed his run to perfection to launch an audacious surge, which took him clear of the stage and planted him directly on top of the bar. Calling on the startled staff for vodka, he was perfectly placed to deliver a couple of songs for an audience which, abruptly, found it had been yanked out of an arena gig and returned to the intimacy of a club venue. With the security team left flat-footed by an unprecedented counter-attack, the singer had broken free and was back in touching distance of his fans (or at least those fortunate enough, or alcoholic enough, to be loitering at the bar rather than piling into the mosh pit). And, unlike Alexander Kerzhakov, his performance hit the target nicely.
It was a curious echo of the quasi-mythical 2005 gig that the band gave in the cramped confines of Kitaisky Lyotchik – a bizarre event which saw the UK critical success of debut release “Employment” lead to the Kaiser Chiefs’ first ever foreign show in one of Moscow’s least glamorous venues (OK, yes, the band also played a festival on Bolotnaya on the same visit, but when the legend is more colorful than the facts, stick with the legend!). It also highlighted, as much of any gurning for the cameras on-stage at Afisha Picnic last summer, how much more effective Wilson is when he has an audience he can communicate with face-to-face, or as close to face-to-face as possible. In a few moments he elevated the entire show from ‘competent’ to ‘memorable’ – a skill other acts would do well to consider.
The rest of the set ranged from the earliest days of the band’s career to tracks specially penned for the “Souvenir” greatest hits compilation that was notionally underpinning this tour. From the golden oldies, there was a rare outing for “Cover of your Magazine”, a three-minute spurt of sharp and spiky post-punk, which managed to cram in plenty of pre-echoes of the anthemic hits, which were to follow it. New tracks included “On the Run”, which carried another one of those trademark epic choruses, but veered close to soft-rock territory with a whisper of “St. Elmo’s Fire” hovering around the edges. More interesting was the darker “Listen to your Head”, with hints of a power ballad amid reverb-heavy vocals and heavy, sonorous piano. Even though they hail from the same part of West Yorkshire as half of Britain’s 1980s goth scene, Kaiser Chiefs don’t really do doom-laden. If they did, though, their Sisters of Mercy phase would probably end up sounding a lot like this.
Instead, however, the band serves up big choruses, easy to shout along to in any language, and it serves up plenty of them. From the opener, “Never miss a beat”, their music has chantable climaxes studded through them like the Kasier Chiefs logo on the stick of candy rock used to give a quintessentially English seaside vibe to the promo material for “Souvenir”. But if this music is, on one level, as definitively English as the earlier calls to rocking arms submitted by the likes of The Clash or The Jam, we’re already at one remove from the visceral anger of “A Town like Malice” or the rallying cry of “London Calling”. Even the likes of “I Predict a Riot” and “The Angry Mob” lack the edginess of their punk-era predecessors. This is musical revolution for the MP3 generation, where audiences are more likely to assault the world with a polyphonic ringtone than a well-aimed Doc Martens boot. As such, therefore, it’s appropriate that the engagingly witless “Ruby” is the song which ultimately becomes the night’s calling card. Punk may not be dead, but it’s closing in on retirement age by now.
If there was a serious disappointment, it was that the crowd seemed relatively small. Given how well the band had played at last year’s festival date, and given the huge numbers who flocked to both of The Prodigy’s shows at Stadium Live – and left seemingly content despite an ear-splitting sound mix which left much of the music buried in an impenetrable sonic soup – the promoters could have hoped for more here. After all, by Moscow standards, a cover of 1500 rubles wasn’t too extortionate for a touring act. Meanwhile, there is evidence that the sound crew at Stadium Live is beginning to hit its stride as well – the mix for this show was far better than other recent performances at the same venue, with pretty much everything coming off the stage clearly and the vocals never overwhelmed by the rest of the band. It was only that impromptu trip to the bar which caught the sound boys out, as Wilson retreated towards the back of the hall while the music blazed away from the onstage speaker sets. With the singer hamming it up and belting it out at the opposite end of the venue, it left a slightly disconcerting dislocation between sound and sight. But without a Rammstein-sized budget to fund two stages and a collapsible bridge between them, no tech crew can overcome that kind of spur of the moment gesture.
186.Jeans Team  
Jeans Team
Sixteen Tons…..what do you get on a Saturday night? A unique band from Germany with excellent visual graphics and a unique style is the answer. The image of a club named Sixteen Tons conjures up in the minds of expats a dank warehouse constructed of concrete with few amenities. However, this is Moscow. In Moscow, a club called Sixteen Tons gets you six burly doormen and an interior is that of dark wood and rich upholstery quite dissimilar to the minimalist craze that has been sweeping Moscow’s clubs interior as of late.
Jeans Team from Berlin Germany is what you get when you mix four band members with different musical tastes and styles. Jeans Team is made up of a dynamic four-person team of Gunter, Henning, Franz, and Reimo. While some of Jeans Team minimalist sound music was new to Muscovites the only people that weren’t dancing when Jeans Team played were the large doorman guarding the stage. Reimo and Franz awed the crowd with their unorthodox dancing styles. Jeans Team played for a 1 ? hours including a 30-minute encore. Jeans Team was able to rotate the playing of their instruments and each member of the band made their own unique sound on each instrument. They played such songs as Eatin’ Up and Stomp. Jeans Team songs ranged from punk electro to minimalist sound music. Jeans Team’s graphics show perfectly mimicked their music showing minimalist shapes that bopped about the screen.
The individual members of Jeans Team are as unique in musical style as they are in there own dress. Henning looked not unlike an ice-cream truck man dressed in an all white button-up shirt and pants ensemble with a black ribbon around his neck. Gunther looked a bit like a preppy frat boy in khaki cargo pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt titled “Hard”, while Franz looked very rock and roll in black leather pants and a vest, while Reimo was the boy next door in jeans and a short-sleeved polo. Four unique styles that blended together very well.
One thing that the members of Jeans Team agree about is that they refuse to be branded within the electro music scene. Music labels use brands to market CD’s to a customer….even the savvy customer of electro music. The definition of brand is “a word, mark, symbol, or term, both visual and oral, used for the purpose of identification of some product or service.” The definition of branding “is an ancient mode of punishment by inflicting a mark on an offender with a hot iron or the marking of cattle for identification purposes.” In the genre that is electro/techno music they are many brand and sub-brands that large music label usually force upon their artists to appeal to a particular “niche market”. There are so many that most people don’t know what the labels mean or which group falls where. There is Progressive, neo-industrial, electro clash, Neo 60’s, electronic dancefloor, Bastard Pop (bootleg mixes), quiet guitar electronica, retro dancefloor, electro hip hop, break dance, noise electro, classic electronic, geek electro, “keine melodien" is very impressive when remixed by techno deejay mj lan. Also peaches' cover version rocks like hell. Their regular style is more computer-oriented though, goth electro darkwave, synth pop, elaborate pop house, neo pop, dance floor NU wave, neo wave…….just to name a few. Jeans Teams has refused to be branded by playing an amazingly wide range of music and playing each show in a unique way.
According to Jeans Team, in Berlin the Russian clubs have a lot of rock and ska rock music; however, they have been very well received throughout their Russian tour. If asked to classify their music Jeans Team would lean toward part punk and part electronic. However, Jeans Team refuses to put a label on their music. Gunther’s influences were hard punk rock with a touch of 80’s German music, while Henning enjoys pop music. Jeans Team is a real electronic band and that’s how they differentiate themselves from their competitors. Jeans Team composes and plays their music together. While most electronic groups are made by a single person using a computer Jeans Team writes and plays its songs together. They only started using a computer 1.5 years ago. Jeans Team is unique because its music is made up of different styles and influences composed by everyone in the band. Jeans Team 2nd LP is almost finished and will be out by late summer or early autumn. The second album will be different from the first because it is broader. Jeans Team uses a computer for the first time on their 2nd LP. While Jeans Team was influenced by Spaceman 3 and Spiritualized they are interested in a variety of music from African music to the Velvet Underground.
Jeans Team was on the last leg of their Russian tour; their finale was in Moscow. They have been to Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Saratov, and Rostov-On- Don. The tour was sponsored in part by the Goethe Institute. Their first album “Baby” was released in 1996. Their latest album is Gold and Silber released 09/02. Their other albums are Ding Dong, Baby 3, and Keine Melodien. They formed their own label Nadel Eins in 1998 to have more artistic control over their music and help other artists release their own music. Jeans Team formed a label Nadel Eins to release their first two 7” singles when they couldn’t find a record company to release their songs. For more information have a look in the shop or on or
187.Les Hurlements D'Leo  
Les Hurlements D'Leo
If you expect the unexpected and see where it may take you, then perhaps you are ready to experience the music of Les Hurlements D'Leo, the French sensations who invaded the stage of Moscow's B2 Club, Tuesday, January 18.
French, though useful in understanding some of their animated speeches and heartfelt words, is not a requirement. These guys are clearly more concerned with the musician's individuality and knowledge of their own instrument, not only to connect with each other on stage but more importantly with the audience who in turn catches this uplifting, self-confident electricity.
All pretenses seem to evaporate when watching Les Hurlements and you suddenly find yourself among a group who hasn't only come to hear mindless punk or "ska gypsy," music, two established definitions of Les Hurlements, you have entered a room where you will see, listen to, and feel a thoughtful, stylistically unique performance of complex highs and lows.
There is no escaping the "Frenchness" of it all which is perhaps the very core of Les Hurlements. Picture it: The trademark accordion plays its nostalgic carnivalesque tunes. The flag of three thick vertical red, white, and blue bands is draped across the black backdrop containing the words "La Republique de France en Russie." The girls upfront do the can can on the dance floor, and the people sitting at the elevated tables sip red wine instead of the usual club cocktails or beer. Luckily, there is always the boisterous shout of "DAVAI!" to remind you that you are still in Moscow.
Characteristically, each song begins with its melodic and slow overture as if the guys are just fine tuning and warming up their instruments for what is about to come. While each member radiates this punk sense of indifference and true spontaneity when the songs finally take off, during this seemingly calm start, there is a very professional, deliberate, and complete awareness over the group as if they are whimsically testing the air not only with the audience but more importantly, with each other. This may be one of their most impressive and expressive qualities which demonstrates the fact that they are no newcomers to the stage.
Once this equilibrium is found, there is no holding back. Most songs explode into a surge which inevitably rips through the room. Not only does each musician take on his own spirit and moves but suddenly the way in which he handles his instrument transforms into something of a special, almost intimate nature. Sometimes nurturing and gentle. Sometimes harsh and violent.
Overall, the performance lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes--nowhere near enough for fans who have just started to break a sweat and want to dance some more. When forced to return for an encore, not only does the band come prepared with shots of vodka and beer, they came with another 45 minutes of pure energy and commotion leaving themselves breathless, and the audience finally exhausted.
Scheduled to tour through Russia until the end of the month, there is no doubt that Les Hurlements d'Leo will go out with a bang when they return to Moscow for their final performance on January 30, at OGI but then again you never know what to expect with this eight piece French punk band and that's the way they like it.
188.Noise Ensemble   
Noise Ensemble
Have you got an annoying colleague who's always tapping rhythms on his desk? Send them along to Noise Ensemble - the cult Brit performance-art showteam who've made tapping rhythms into an artform.
The brains behind the bashing is film-composer, producer and ex-percussionist Ethan Lewis Maltby, with the visuals masterminded by Ben M Rodgers. The two-part gig is a clever synthesis of the primal with the sensual, and despite the visual appeal of a team of groovily-apparelled fit bods of both sexes bashing the hell out of tom-toms, for my money it was the more subtle and delicate numbers which were the highlight of the show. Scott Foster, Nat Butler, Amy Kelly and Louise Samuels drew luscious textures from a dazzling array of xylophones, glockenspiels and marimbas - not only with phenomenal stick technique, but using violin-bows on the glocks and all kinds of other sweet sounds too. The uncredited compositions are presumably Maltby's - a delectable fusion of latin sounds with contemporary harmonies and and melodic fragments.
I somehow doubt many of the audience got much of the linking video material- an amusing spoof of British TV programmes of different kinds (everything from DIY shows in which a dedicated loon crafts his own drumstick from a chunk of tree, through to online shopping for a guiro - “only 139 left in stock”). The satire in this was a bit too subtle - many people thought it was for real? And the British weights and measures (the heights and weights of the performers given in feet and inches, and stones and pounds) only added to the confusion here. However, this was far from being a major inhibiting factor on enjoying the evening - two generously-long sets with a spectacular light show.
A pity the MDM hall remained resolutely half-empty for the entire show - probably a mistake, in retrospect, to try to fill up two gigs when one would have been enough? Despite a sorely-needed makeover of the public areas, the MDM remains a grim venue for this kind of gig... the Attendants seem to have been recruited from amongst the ranks of the Stasi? When it was clear it was going to start at least 40 minutes late, they actually refused to let us leave the hall to go to the bar! Not that we'd missed much... the huge and well-designed bar remained resolutely closed, and one girl sold half-melted ice-cream and warm drinks from what looked like a Bring-&-Buy Table at a Scout Jamboree. Considering the top-end ticket-price, this was a long way from acceptable for an evening out. They actually refused to put the orange juice in the Campari, and said we could buy a carton of orange juice separately and do it ourselves.. a bit like going to a concert in a Railwayman's Palace Of Culture in Tarakansk in 1987. Woeful, substandard, and a blight on the evening.
Anyone who wants to know what they missed can buy some cheap drinks from their local corner kiosk, take them home (taking care not to chill them to consumption-temperature on the way) and take a look at Noise Ensemble's homepage.
189.Pink Grease  
Pink Grease
Why did God inspire AMERICA to invent Rock-n-Roll?
So that skinny British boys would dance around in tight pants and eye-liner.*
"Pink Grease" is exuberant - and funny. Admittedly, glam rock/ tent revival tactics have been done before, but ain't it always fun! The whole band should come play in my hometown.
If they all can't make it, I'll stick to Front-man. Dedicated to prancing about stage and jumping over arched necks, this pale platinumed singer cuts a unique profile. He's lick-able.

Bass-boy appears extra-enthusiastic, liking to kick about the stagehand during his multiple scurries to restore mic-stand arrangement. The Hand preserves good humour by consistently knocking him back, taking out vodka bottles and cymbal stacks in the ruckus. Drummer just wears an expression of bland calm while catching the metal pre-crash and beating away.
Meanwhile Jimi Hendrix in lead guitar and light brown afro regularly jumps in and out of position whilst clicking thrift-store cowboy boots. Two absorbed electro-wizards more peacefully occupy their respective corners concentrating on colourful boards and duct-taped mini-synths. (Instead of passively reading further disaster description, why don't you click on and discover some zany creativity for yourself.)

Although the music exudes numerous influences, these infusions are well merged and the tunes sound fundamentally self-spawned. Quite an accomplishment in general, but notably here. Many musicians visiting Moscow stoop to render popular world standards in order to easy please a foreign audience. Not these boys. Concerning less sell-out-ish crowd-winning stratagems, Bass-boy chooses the high road of shouting Russian phrases and striving to convey complex messages in 'MATY'.
The audience itself starts out over ponderous, mesmerized by the bands antics and unsure of what to do to each other. But "Pink Grease" eventually works the crowd up into a steady paced enthusiasm, gleefully expressed in incessant insistence on an encore. Lacking by now Mister Percussion, Bass-boy conjures up from the masses none other than Phil - the fill in drummer Gorbachev, who makes it through two tunes before Bass-boy himself is forced to attack stated duty. Front-man jigs on an amp lost in this moment of artistic despair...
The spectacle is over and everyone goes to smoke a cigarette. Contemplating the essence of this young raw anomaly, I sombrely wonder if they are quite as slutty as advertised. The world is ever in need of lasting decadence and utter rejection of family values, so I pray to God there are not false prophets. You see, it's a pitched battle and the Baptists must be stopped.
*In fact, contrary to fundamentalist Christian doctrine, glam rock is the true telos of linear history and not a uni-polar world led under Bush family fascism.
190.Sin City  
Sin City
Directed by: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez and (special guest director) Quentin Tarantino. Written by Frank Miller. Starring: Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Nancy Callahan, Rutger Hauer, Elijah Wood. 126 min. USA.
By Sam Gerrans
Review top sheet: a very stylised film noir nightmare with lots of blood (much of it white) and unnaturally husky narrative voices.
This is not so much a film as a spitting competition between a directing fraternity of talented (but very nerdy) overgrown art students with a lot more money to spend than they had when they were at art school.
Is it a great film? Not in my book.
Is it art? Er, dunno. Ask me in a century or two.
Will you like this film?
• Yes, if: you’re into the D.C.-comics brand of pithy and languid one-liners on a backdrop of stylised and excessive violence
• No, if: like me, you really liked “Sideways”, “Lost in Translation” and “Before Sunset” (i.e. wimpy films which concentrate on character and theme at the expense of hacking off limbs and blowing things up) and you don’t like comics
• Maybe, if: you’re a second-year art student and really hard up for ideas
Comments: a film populated by cardboard characters with no compelling motivation battling through an insipid but hostile terrain doesn’t do it for me. But that’s me.
Parts of “Sin City” are funny, but this film is not dramatically engaging or exciting in any comprehensive sense and it’s certainly not a comedy – not even a profoundly sick one.
That said, it is sufficiently revolting to hold your attention to the end. There are some excellent snippets of dialogue and the film generates a sense of unease which should persist long enough to make your walk home from the Metro feel more uncomfortable than usual.
Out-of-five star ratings:
• Story: *
• Dialogue: **
• Substance:
• Film craft: *****
Story comments: there is a story of sorts, but is has a disposable, almost polystyrene-cup quality to it. There must be a template somewhere for designing comic storylines, and they weren’t afraid to use it here. But nobody cares because what’s important is the delivery, the packaging.
Go prepared for a genre fest rather than a story with a point. You’ll enjoy it more.
Dialogue comments: the acting and dialogue are delivered in the same heavily stylised flat pack boxes as the visuals, i.e. they have their genesis in the comic genre and are as three dimensional as a pizza.
But if you prefer to order out rather than eat a healthy and balanced diet, then you’re in for some toppings which include a liberal sprinkling of very passable one-liners.
Substance comments: this film has no unifying point other than to demonstrate how clever the directors are. They are clever, but I don’t go to the cinema to be reminded of the fact.
Film craft: if Stan Lee were to reshoot “The Matrix” with Humphrey Bogart in the lead after the two of them had spent six months in Guantanamo Bay being force-fed mind-bending substances by the CIA and being beaten severely about the head with rolled-up Batman comics the result might look something like “Sin City”: dark, scary, way over the top, and disturbingly disjointed.
Having said all that – and having registered my own dislike of this particular film – the film craft is, objectively, masterful and visually refreshing.
A taste of the story: an adaptation of Frank Miller's stories based in the fictional town of Sin City where everyone is either a prostitute, criminally insane or just waiting for someone to make their life a misery for no apparent reason.
Sam Gerrans is a freelance writer and translator:
191.Finding Neverland  
Finding Neverland
By Ryan Macalino:
The story of Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland have fascinated many in the last 100 years, and have gone through numerous revivals and revisits. “Finding Neverland” gives us another angle from which to view this story, one through the eyes of its creator, Sir J.M. Barrie. Based on a play by Allan Knee, the movie begins with the words ‘Inspired by True Events’, thus immediately suggesting to the audience to treat this as a biography – a magical one at that.
The setting is London of a little over a century ago, in 1903 where a theatre is set to show Barrie’s (Johnny Depp) new play. Already a well-known playwright by this time, Barrie is nervous at the sight of so many ‘serious faces’ in the crowd, sensing that they will not be satisfied with this new production. After disastrous results, his friend and theatrical impresario Charles (Dustin Hoffman) implores him to produce something new that will satiate the appetite of his more sophisticated audience.
Barrie thus retreats to his typical leisurely walk through Kensington Gardens, where he falls upon a newfound source of inspiration. On what becomes a serendipitous occasion, he makes the acquaintance of recently-widowed Sylvia (Kate Winslet), the mother of the brothers Davies – the kids who would later be immortalized as Barrie’s inspiration for Peter Pan’s followers, the Lost Boys.
The innocence of the Davies brothers and the strength of their imagination awaken something latent within Barrie. To the delight of the ailing Sylvia, Barrie immediately befriends them, providing the fuel for his imminent creation in taking writing breaks amidst games of make-believe with the children. Among them, he develops a special affinity to Peter (Freddie Highmore), who seems wary of Barrie’s intentions, suspecting him of trying to replace his deceased dad.
“Finding Neverland” has three main dynamics which would have an effect on the creation of Barrie’s Peter Pan: his relationship with his wife (Radha Mitchell) versus his newfound kindred spirit in Sylvia, the meddling of others into his connection with the Davies family, and most importantly, his interaction with his Peter. In effect, Peter seems to be Barrie’s opposite – whereas Barrie relishes in the innocence of never-ending childhood, Peter seems to have abandoned this, instead wanting to be treated seriously like an adult.
Adapted for the screen by David Magee, the surprisingly modern script focuses primarily on Barrie and the motivation for his opus. Magee’s Oscar-nominated adaptation is mature, and wisely avoids any nuances of what could easily be Hollywood fodder in exploring either an adulterous or pederastic subplot in Barrie’s life story. In addition, Marc Foster’s masterful direction allows us to see this story unfold with what seems to be Barrie’s special, self-contained way of seeing the world – his ‘Neverland’. Reminiscent of the literary works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Paulo Coelho, Barrie’s life seems to have reality and magic intertwined, but not merely as a source of escapism but also of inspiration.
Barrie’s life story also benefits from the actor portraying him, in another stellar turn from Johnny Depp. While the rest of the cast delivers, Depp shows that he is deserving of his Oscar nomination. His performance is extraordinary; once again he proves his range and the care he puts into his craft. He imbues Barrie with a gentleness that makes the whole story believable, and carries Magee’s script with the proper sensibility. Add to this his flawless Scottish accent, and he becomes Barrie.
Unsurprisingly, “Finding Neverland” is billed as somewhat of a ‘feel good movie’. And while the elements are in place to make it as such, some viewers might not agree after seeing an all-too-real final scene. This is understandable, as it is still the filmmakers’ responsibility to wrap this biography as neatly as possible, without taking too many liberties with the script. This does not at all take anything away from the pure brilliance of this film, and if anything it adds to it. In effect, by movie’s end, we are reminded of the life’s beauty through its fragility, and the importance of unlocking one’s imagination – one’s own Neverland.
By Sara Sly:
Despite Johnny Depp's charisma and qualifying good looks, the actor's true appeal lies in his clever choice of roles. The essence of each human creature Depp plays shines through a blank slate of body and movement while a fantastical ambience whirls about them both - actor and character.
Perhaps Depp's choices reflect something quixotic in his personality. Edward Scissorhands, Ichabod Crane, Raoul Duke of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Captain Jack Sparrow, George Jung of Blow, Dean Corson of The Ninth Gate - all radiate a defiance not only against particular asphyxiating environments, but against the mentality allowing surroundings and societies to smother beauty. When watching Depp be these characters, do we not sense their disdain for the mundane and accompany them in retreat from the vulgar into a realm of ethereal morality?
In Finding Neverland Johnny Depp is James M. Barrie, the Scottish playwright who created “Peter Pan”. Barrie is an extraordinarily imaginative man whose contrast to those about is well marked. Everyone around him speaks in muted high society English whilst his lilted tongue sticks out. His social pattern does not quite conform to the respectable. When his wife turns a house cold and distant, he retreats to a room of glowing ambrosia. Down on his luck in the realm of public applause, he must begin to dig deep for redeeming inspiration.
Having sat in search on his customary park-bench, he hears a noise from beneath. It is the murmuring of someone’s little brother imprisoned for being just that – a little brother. That afternoon, Barrie makes the acquaintance of Peter, Jack. George and Michael Davies with their mother Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. The developing relationship between the six protagonists is delicate and dreamy. The boys are caught in the crux of child and adulthood, Sylvia suffers from a terminal chest cold and Barrie must deal (not deal) with a deteriorating home situation. However, together they manage to find warmth and caring elsewhere lost. Floating in the little world they make, the children gain a male role model, Sylvia finds a friend, and Sir James Barrie discovers “Peter Pan.”
“Peter Pan” taps into a theme of eternal appeal. It isn’t only a story about growing up, it’s also an admonition to retain a touch of innocence and fiercely guard that flashing imagination even as an adult. In Finding Neverland, this message is twice as deep. Not only do we recall the spirit of the play itself, we watch as Barrie and the Davies form their own difficult reality into one more beautiful and tender. Although no one can resist the sound of adventure, lofty passions, and noble deeds, most people can’t actually run off and follow the horn. What people CAN do, however, is learn to use imagination and kindness to create inner worlds of dear friends and family that illuminate melancholy or tragic environs. They can do this successfully even despite severe disapproval from society.
In sum, I advance the proposition that Johnny Depp is aware of the importance of fancy as a weapon in the war against the absurdities of over-realism. I bet the role of Sir James Matthew Barrie appealed to his sense of hallucination and he likes the misfit glow underlying the film flow. I also move that Depp likes producing messages rich with colorful mischief and glimmers of altruism. That and/or he is a cunning image businessman who knows that people will never tire of purchasing products that seduce the imagination. You see, the consummate public seducer knows that no one can resist the lure of promise and vicarious escape from triviality. Con artist, politician, and rock star types for example, remake themselves into the embodiment of an heightened reality, a place where people can join them to have it all, defend the fatherland, or sing well. Well, who knows what Johnny Depp is up to. I prefer to believe that he has a lovely soul and refined sensibilities. What you believe is up to you.
Directed by Taylor Hackford. Written by James L. White based on a story by Taylor Hackford and James L. White. Starring: Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington, Regina King. 152 mins. USA.
By Sam Gerrans
Review top sheet: a period-piece tribute to the late, great Ray Charles based on his life in all its glory – and lack thereof – which catalogues his musical development.
Will you like this film?
• Yes, if: when the box says Charles, you buy it
• No, if: you’re in the market for a bona fide drama
• Maybe, if: you have ever clicked your fingers to “Hit the Road Jack” and would like to know more
Comments: tribute films do not make good cinema. At worst, they are a pointless fiction riding on the back of a famous name. At best, they work as pumped-up documentaries with an unconvincing justification for being shown in a cinema.
Their place is on TV.
To my mind, considering its genre – if you can call it that – “Ray” is not a bad tribute film. But coming as close is it does to the man’s passing, it leaves itself open to the charge of opportunism.
Ambulance-chaser was a – perhaps unfortunate – phrase which came to mind as I watched.
Out-of-five star ratings:
• Story: **
• Dialogue: *
• Substance: *
• Film craft: ***
Story comments: the writer has strived – not without success – to craft a character arc out of a biography and to hit the requisite three-act peaks we subconsciously expect (but hate if they come in just the way we expect) from the cinematic experience.
The problem is that real-life stories don’t have plot points as such. They have bills to be paid and people who get on your nerves.
The moments which most resemble plot points in the lives of celebrated people like Charles (in the context of biography-done-as-cinema) are when they meet certain people whose influence or patronage impact on them in some significant way. But even that’s pretty dull, too.
However you dress it up, we – like Charles are really only there for one thing: the music.
So the question is: does it work?
Absolutely. Jamie Foxx gives great Ray. I mean, he’s got the blind-man thing down pat. Ray’s body language not only differed from a seeing person’s body language, it was a whole different language altogether. And Jamie Foxx does it superbly while hitting a mean mime to all the Ray Charles classics. It’s kinda eerie and an achievement in its own way.
But is it great cinema?
Er, no.
Dialogue comments: a great deal of the film is in that post-war Black jive speak which – to be perfectly honest – I have to concentrate to understand.
Foxx’s performance is generally good – given my misgivings about the genre per se – but he wavers a little too close to a Malcolm X and even a Louis Farrakhan at times for me to be entirely comfortable.
The supporting roles were all right. But again, none of this is cinema. It’s a movie of the week.
Substance comments: the film is about the music of Ray Charles. It has no other point.
It tries to draw some sort of amateur psychoanalysis rabbit out of the hat. This film cost quite a bit to make, so they felt they had to do something. But the attempt did nothing for me.
We occasionally yawned in the direction of the Helen-Keller-against-all-odds thing. But that, too, worked like a damp sparkler and fizzled out pretty much as soon as it got going.
Film craft comments: the film is well put together technically and tastefully shot.
Given that I was there for the music, I found it best to regard the rest of the film as a long advert for Southern Comfort in which the product itself makes no appearance.
A taste of the story: Ray Charles was born. He went blind. He made some of the kickingest music of the twentieth century. The end.
Sam Gerrans is a freelance writer and translator:
193.The Whole 10 Yards / By H. Deutch /  
The Whole 10 Yards / By H. Deutch /
Once in a while, a very special film comes along, a film with such power and scope that it is enough to change your mind about a great many things… Such a movie is very rare, and when it arrives, it is truly an event. This movie is Fahrenheit 9/11.
On the other hand, we have another movie, a movie that could care less about impact, message, presentation or performance…
In the latest money-making initiative from people of Warner Bros. (yes, the same Hollywood masterminds who rushed to bring you the Matrix sequels), we have the The Whole Ten Yards – a completely unnecessary sequel to a completely unnecessary movie. Sure, its predecessor, The Whole Nine Yards was utterly forgettable, but at least it had a nude scene to placate bored stoners and frat boys. 10 Yards has nothing but (less of) the same empty, doubtful laughs.
The movie essentially picks up from where the other one left off. Jimmy the Tulip (Bruce Willis) and his wife Jill (Amanda Peet) are now living large in Mexico, rich off their spoils from the first movie. While Jill is very slowly realizing her dream to be a professional hit man, Jimmy has retired from the hit man game, instead devoting his life to becoming a househusband. Oz (Matthew Perry) is now a successful dentist in LA, married to Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge), once Jimmy’s wife and accomplice. Upon release from prison, Hungarian mob boss Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollack) puts into motion his plan to finally kill Jimmy, and thus avenge the death of his son, whom Jimmy ‘offed’ in the previous movie. Hilarity ensues? No, not really.
The main problem with this movie is that it’s a horrible script with a ridiculous premise, featuring a group of Hollywood has-beens. Well, in all actuality, Bruce Willis is the singular has-been. Twice in fact, having found movie success as the working man action star in the 90’s, and then with a second wind as M. Night Shyamalan’s bankable name in “Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable”.
As for the other people, well, they’re more like ‘never-beens’. Amanda Peet’s claim to fame was a breast-baring moment in the previous movie, while Natasha Henstridge’s claim to fame was a breast-baring moment in another movie. Kevin Pollack is Kevin Pollack. As for Matthew Perry, he has yet to find success outside of his typecast “Friends” character.
I must admit though that I actually enjoyed Perry’s performance. Out of all the cast, he’s the only one that really rises above the asinine script. He’s really just playing an over-caffeinated Chandler with a dose of physical comedy. Sure, this “Friends” role is the only role he knows how to play, but he plays it really well. His facial reactions and comedic delivery really drive the few laughs in the movie.
Aside from this, the movie manages giggles that are few and far between. Really the only other attempts are as follows: a 100+ year old grandmother who suffers from uncontrollable gas, and a very ugly, very stupid gangster doing what you’d expect him to do. There are also a few stupid Bruce Willis gags: a scene of him in a wig and apron, one showing his very pale buttocks, and another using his shiny bald head as a bowling ball for a stack of shooter glasses. Yup, this is the same guy who in one movie died drilling holes in a cataclysmic asteroid and in another movie discovered that he was a contemporary superhero. How’s that for breaking type, eh?
The filmmakers tried to adopt a sort of spontaneous, anything-goes style to the movie, but it results in mind-numbing storytelling and laughs that are too contrived. My view is that in a few years from now, everyone that was involved in this movie would rather pretend that it didn’t exist. You get the feeling that the actors were somewhat intoxicated in delivering their lines, as if to lessen the misfortune of being in such a mess of a movie. I was jealous, wishing I were just as intoxicated as they were when I watched it.
194.David Carretta / DJ IDO  
David Carretta / DJ IDO
Every ass was shaking in DJ Cafe MIO whether it wanted to or not when David Carretta’s live set with DJ IDO began on Saturday night. While, DJ IDO warmed up the eager crowd by playing his popular pop/electro music, Carretta’s music screamed for a larger dance floor for the crowded dancers and the throbbing bass as a light fixture near the back of the bar crashed on the floor. Needless to say the duo rocked the dance floor at DJ Caf? MIO with their electro/techno music. Carretta’s and DJ IDO’s fans felt they were worth the wait on Saturday night at Caf? MIO when their set began a bit late and they played well into the morning hours on Sunday. DJ IDO’s brand of techno is more mainstream and oriented towards hip-hop while Carretta’s hard electric techno used vocals, guest and his own, to incite body movement with the Caf? Mio crowd. Carretta spun.
Internationally known electro/techno wizards Carretta and IDO made their first ever appearance together in Moscow on Saturday night at DJ Caf? Mio. Carretta and IDO met in 1998 when they were both playing a party at Rex Club in Paris. Their mixture of Carretta’s electro/techno new wave 80’s and IDO’s A-Pop/minimal electro techno blends together very well. Carretta has a gift for mixing and blending techno/electric beats. Carretta may be a household name in Europe’s electro/techno scene, however Muscovites are relatively new to Europe’s electro music but they are catching on fast. The crowd and setting on Saturday night would lead one to think that you were at a hip “see and be seen” club instead of an electro/techno show but this is Moscow and one has to look good no matter where you go. On a side note, DJ Caf? MIO woman’s bathroom was playing soft-core porn on the bathroom mirror when this author came in to use the facilities.
Carretta inspired DJ Hell to start his own record label, International DJ Gigolo Records, with his track Innerwood. Carretta has been credited with paving the way for other Gigolo Record artists such as the famed Miss Kittin & the Hacker and Tampopo. Carretta’s off stage quietness appears to signal he wishes his music to speak for himself, see the above ass shaking sentence. The music that inspired Carretta is Depeche Mode, New Order, and DAF, and other “new wave 80’s” music. For those readers not familiar with “new wave 80’s” Carretta describes the music as non-mainstream music that he puts to electro/techno beats. Carretta has earned rave reviews in Europe for his hit - tracks "Futurama" on Compilation, "Le Cauchemar" -- where he worked with Chicks On Speed -- and for “Ca Plane pour moi” from his first French album Le Catalogue Electonique.
The history of techno music began in the mid to late 70’s with the German band Kraftwerk. In the ’80s musicians in Detroit began combining the sounds of Kraftwerk with funk. Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson combined synthesizer beats inspired by Parliament, George Clinton, and Funkadelic. Combining techno with electro began possible with the advent of computer technology in the early 80’s. As early as ten years ago techno music was considered an underground movement. Techno became more mainstream and commercialized with hits like Prodigy’s “Charly”. Rave parties playing techno music began in Britain in the early 90’s and spread throughout the US and Europe, this also helped bring techno to a mainstream audience.
Carretta has been a DJ and doing live sets since 1984 and the genre of music that he works with has stayed consistent, “new wave 80’s”, however he does experiment with new technology that allows him to produce different sounds. DJ IDO was inspired by A-Pop, electric pop, and industrial music such as Afrika Bambaataa. Carretta is now working on a new album yet to be named and played some of his new music on Saturday night as well as a couple of songs from his previous albums. He can be seen touring throughout South America and Europe. IDO is currently producing two new projects on David’s label, International DJ Gigolo Records, titled Leitmotiv 10, 11. You can read more about David Carretta and DJ IDO at International DJ Gigolo record’s website
195.Spanglish /By James L. Brooks/  
Spanglish /By James L. Brooks/
Written by James L. Brooks. Directed by James L. Brooks. Starring: Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Paz Vega, Cloris Leachman. 130 minutes. USA.
Review top sheet: Check in your mind along with your coat and hat when you come to see this film. Better still, have a lobotomy. Then sit back and gorge yourself on dramatic candyfloss and popcorn until the end credits appear.
The film has pretensions to being meaningful. It isn’t. But that’s okay, isn’t it? (I loved “Lost in Translation” which I say rocked. You can take your bearings from there.)
“Spanglish” is a corporate Big-Mac-and-fries experience. You’ll leave less satisfied than glutted, and with the nagging suspicion that you would have been better off having a salad – or, perhaps, nothing at all.
Take this film for what it is: brain candy with genuinely funny moments.
Will you like this film?
• Yes, if: you like Adam Sandler ("50 First Dates", "Anger Management", "Longfellow Deeds", "Punch-Drunk Love")
• No, if: you don’t like Adam Sandler ("50 First Dates", "Anger Management", "Longfellow Deeds", "Punch-Drunk Love")
• Maybe, if: you’ve never seen an Adam Sandler film ("50 First Dates", "Anger Management", "Longfellow Deeds", "Punch-Drunk Love")
Comments: the Adam Sandler mix of diffidence (the slightly spazzy older-brother thing), apparent lack of affectation, and his poor man’s noblesse oblige franchise either yanks you in or gets on your nerves.
Personally, I like it in the way I like Status Quo: one dose every two or three years is all right, but more than that is overkill.
Out-of-five star ratings:
• Story: **
• Dialogue: ***
• Substance: *
• Film craft: *
Story comments: the film’s excuse for existing is a limp look at questions of cultural identity and belonging.
The tension in the film is provided by a superbly neurotic and sociopathically competitive T?a Leoni. She plays the blonde with whippet-like body tone to the brunette Paz Vega’s voluptuous curves.
I’m a curves man, so my loyalties were pretty much a given.
Dialogue comments: Cloris Leachman (who plays the alcoholic mother) imbues her lines with an energy, humour and pathos sufficient to pull the film over onto the verge of excellent drama for as long as she occupies the screen.
If you go, go for Cloris.
Substance comments: “Spanglish” is based on the notion that Americaand here I mean the super-rich White America which makes up all of two percent of the total – is an earthly paradise to which all right-thinking third-worldlings naturally aspire.
Having been accepted at the high table of the ruling elite, broken the language barrier, and mastered their ruthless and soulless (but totally necessary) education system, you will realise how lucky are to have started life scratching a living from some dustbowl thousands of miles away. It’s your cultural inheritance and you lose it at your peril.
Again, I am lost by the American need to confess sexual indiscretion to one’s partner as a way of making it all right. For me, it’s not a plot point. It’s a futile exercise in inflicting needless suffering on your wife, children and – to some lesser degree – yourself.
Film craft comments: functional.
A taste of the story: a young, pretty Mexican girl and her young, incredibly pretty Mexican mother (Paz Vega) leave a life of idyllic perfection in Mexico for the bright lights of assorted US minimum-wage sweatshops.
Though she knows no English whatsoever, this voluptuous Hispanic beauty is invited by a plain-looking rich woman with obvious and severe marital problems (T?a Leoni) to keep house for her.
Thereafter, the key question is: can Adam Sandler – the plain-looking woman’s husband – resist the obvious imperative to do to the voluptuous Hispanic beauty what the rest of male America would like him to?
Sam Gerrans is a freelance writer and translator:
Directed by Andy Tennant. Written by Kevin Bisch. Starring: Will Smith, Eva Mendes, Kevin James and Amber Valletta. 115 mins. USA.
Male-Friendly Romantic Comedy
By Ryan Macalino
There are many movies which immediately give the impression that watching them will surely be a waste of time. From my own experience, it seems that romantic comedies form the bulk of this banal heap. I hope I’m not alone in saying this, but males tend to avoid these movies like the plague. Typically for us, this genre is utilized only as the second half of a dinner-and-a-movie affair. While we are happy with the moments of intimacy that these movies would allow us, most of the time we are either too uncomfortable with the sappiness or just plain bored out of our wits.
Thankfully however, “Hitch” is something different. Aside from being funny, it is surprisingly charming, with characters that are interesting enough to keep both male and female audience members entertained. Overall it’s an excellent vehicle for Will Smith, who I guess is tired from blowing things up in his usual repertoire of action movies, with the most recent being “I, Robot”.
Smith plays Alex ‘Hitch’ Hitchins, a professional consultant with a business that relies solely on referrals. Known as the ‘Date Doctor’, he specializes in giving relationship advice and creating opportunities for single men to be with the women they love – and charging them handsomely for his services. His latest client is a dorky accountant named Albert (Kevin James), who falls in love with New York City’s most talked-about celebrity heiress, Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta). Hitch welcomes the immense challenge in hooking Albert up with his dream girl, and along the way he meets (and of course falls in love for) Sara, an investigative journalist assigned to cover the elusive Ms. Cole.
Seeing that this movie is a rom-com, it will undoubtedly have the expected clich?s associated with the genre. There are however, a few noteworthy points. Director Andy Tennant does a fairly safe job of directing the movie, but I really enjoyed the opening credits, which is kind of an infomercial for Hitch’s services. It’s snappy and funny, and it does a good job of establishing the main characters. Screenwriter Kevin Bisch also gives us a smart script that peppers the usual rom-com fare with hilarious situational comedy that some of us, male or female, can use as dating advice.
This ‘advice’ of course is more useful to the male audience, and just for this alone it is a great movie to take a date to (ignore the possible circularity in this statement). While the third act somehow slips into the regular predictability, the story is definitely entertaining (and/or informative) enough to get you through the whole movie. Besides, if that’s not enough, the soundtrack also boasts a great selection of R&B music, from Motown to hip-hop to neo-soul.
For the females reading this, persuasion is perhaps unnecessary. For the more discerning tastes in their romantic comedies, I reckon that it’s better than the standard fare, plus the movie also has merit in casting minorities for the leading roles while wisely not adhering to any racial angles. Rather, the appealing quality to this story is that the main characters all seem to be professionals who appear to be at the top of their game, yet also suffer from the same love problems as ‘us regular folk’.
The main draw for this movie is Will Smith, who really has a guaranteed audience. Here he plays against type, but