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1.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Volkhonka::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Today Volkhonka is an "Art street" of the capital though it was named after a more prosaic "institution" - an inn in the house of prince Volkonsky. The main attraction of the street is the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts which houses one of the finest collections of Impressionists and rich collections of European and Eastern Art. It was originally planned to be a museum of a modest purpose: organisers wanted to open a museum of plaster-casts for students but the outcome exceeded all expectations. Today it is among the best art museums of the world. It constantly organises fantastic exhibitions attracting hundreds of thousands visitors every year.
After an obligatory and inevitable trip to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts true and tireless art lovers have an opportunity to enjoy smaller and less exhausting exhibitions offered at the Museum of Private Collections. But two museums are obviously not enough for the main art street of the capital so the third one appeared several years ago - Roerich Museum. Artists Nikolay and his son Svyatoslav Roerichs are well-known for their highly spiritual works.
Across the road in the house No 11 in 1827 Russian artist Tropinin created one of the most famous Pushkin portraits. Today copies of this portrait can be found almost in every Russian school. The "appendix" to Volkhonka is Lenivka street. This dwarf lane has a funny name - literally it means "the lazy street". According to one version, a very slow ("lazy") river was carrying its waters somewhere in the area; according to another there was a little market with sleepy and lazy salesmen.
Volkhonka bursts into Borovitskaya square. On a hill one can admire a sumptuous and majestic palace of white stone known as Pashkov's house. This masterpiece of Russian classicism, built in 1784-1785, is bathing in legends. According to one of them an incredibly gifted architect Vasily Bazhenov was not allowed to reconstruct Kremlin and to build a palace for Catherine the Great and got quite offended. So he decided to build a beautiful palace right opposite Kremlin but to turn it a little bit so that Kremlin would face the back part of the building. Another legend says that on the top of this palace grateful King of Prussia bowed to Moscow for saving his country from Napoleon. In 1839 Pashkov's house was bought by the state and several years later collections of the Russian State Library were transferred here: 28000 books, 700 manuscripts and nearly 1500 geographical maps. Now Russian State Library ("Biblioteka imeni Lenina" or simply "Leninka"), which is one of the top three biggest libraries in the world, stores its collections in the nearby building erected in 1928-1930 by architects V. Schuko and V. Gelfreikh.
2.Dating Agency   
Dating Agency
Still single? Marriage Agency “Anastasia” will help you to find your soul-mate.
Everyone who visits Russia is immediately struck by the stunning beauty of Russian women.
Everyone who has ever been to Russia will agree - Russian women are not just beautiful; they are gentle, intelligent, well mannered and tender. Russian women make perfect wives: family is their highest value in life. To have a happy family, to love and to be loved – that is all a Russian woman needs. If you are tired of the ever-controlling power of the Western women – meet a Russian and you will find paradise lost!
We will make it easy for you to find you soul-mate in Russia!
3.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
1. Exporting Personal Belongings from Russia
If you are using the services of a professional moving company, such as Allied Pickfords Moscow, the latter will handle all customs formalities for you. Your presence at Russian customs during the export customs clearance process is not required, but you must supply the moving company with certain documents enabling them to act on your behalf.
The number and kinds of documents required depend on the shipment method you have chosen (surface and/or air) and on your personal status in Russia (foreign citizen, Russian citizen, foreign diplomat, accredited journalist, etc.).
In most cases, the required documents will include: a Power of Attorney for Russian customs (authorizing the moving company to carry out all customs clearance formalities on your behalf)
• a Power of Attorney for Russian customs (authorizing the moving company to carry out all customs clearance formalities on your behalf)
• a Power of Attorney for the Ministry of Culture (in case you are exporting any artwork and antiques, for which export permits are required)
• a letter to Russian customs from your company
• a letter to Russian customs from yourself
• a copy of your passport
• a copy of your Russian visa
• a copy of your Russian accreditation card (if you have one)
You might also be asked to complete a customs form of the country you are moving to.
Your moving company should supply you with samples of all required documents. The Power(s) of Attorney can only be obtained by yourself from a Russian notary in Russia and must be signed by you at the notary's office. The moving company cannot obtain any Power of Attorney for you on your behalf.
4.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
2. Import of Cats & Dogs to the Russian Federation
Importing cats and dogs to the Russian Federation is a fairly easy procedure. There is no quarantine, and you do not have to apply for an import permit. However, several veterinary documents are required.
Stricter import requirements apply to other animals, in particular to exotic animals. Please inquire with your moving company (or the Russian Embassy or Consulate in your origin country) before shipping any pet other than a cat or a dog so that we can advise you on the corresponding import regulations and any possible restrictions that might apply.
5.From Thaw to Perestroika (1950-90s)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Thaw and Stagnation (1950-80s)
Stalin's successor was Nikita Khrushchev. Once loyal to Stalin, he suddenly transformed into comparatively liberal Soviet governor. At the 20th Party Congress he denounced Stalin's crimes; as a result thousands of political prisoners were released and rehabilitated, forbidden books were published and many Stalin's crimes were revealed. Artists, poets, writers could breathe rather freely and many very interesting works in every art were created. This period is known as "the Thaw".
In the mean-time, the Soviets continued to be rather aggressive in their foreign affairs. In 1956 Soviet tanks invaded Hungary and in 1962 the world was one millimetre away from the nuclear war after Khrushchev's decision to base nuclear missiles on Cuba. Right after the World War II the Soviet Union and the USA started an arms race (Cold War), each trying to prove its position as the leading state. Under Khrushchev the Soviets made fantastic progress in space industry and in 1961 won the race sending the first man to space. The name of the Soviet hero was Yury Gagarin.
Khrushchev's Thaw was followed by a period of stagnation and political marasmus when Leonid Brezhnev came to power bringing bureaucracy and corruption. After his death the Politburo (the ruling top of the Communist Party) had no intention of letting a younger generation in, so Brezhnev was succeeded by a 68-year-old Andropov and a 72-year-old Chernenko. People joked that it was a period of the "Swan lake" ballet because it was shown on TV all day long when another General Secretary would leave this sinful planet forever.
Glasnost and Perestroika (1980-90s)
Mikhail Gorbachev was the man to change the situation. He became General Secretary in 1985 and announced his policies of Perestroika (restructuring) and Glasnost (openness). Gorbachev was a dynamic leader, full of new ideas and willingness to revitalize economics and make the Soviet Union more liberate. He was also the first Soviet politician to be welcomed abroad.
Gorbachev's reforms made an immense impact on the system. For the first time during the Soviet period the elections to the Congress of People's Deputies were not a complete profanation and contained an element of a true choice. In March 1990 the First Congress of National Deputies of the USSR declared a transition to the presidential system of governing and elected Mikhail Gorbachev as first President of the Soviet Union. The first and the last.
In 1990, the Soviet Union was about to collapse. Soviet republics declared their independence one after another. Boris Yeltsyn was elected first President of the Russian Republic in 1991. An end to the existence of the Soviet Union was put after the military coup organized by Defence Minister Dmitry Yazov and Vice President Georgy Yanayev in August 1991. Gorbachev was placed under house arrest, military units surrounded the building of Russian Government and tanks appeared in Moscow streets. But after three days this new provisional government was unseated, and Boris Yeltsin who stood against the tanks became a national hero. These events accelerated the collapse of the Soviet Union and brought a new state into the world - the Russian Federation.
6.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

In the 5th-6th centuries the ancestors of Eastern Slavs (Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians) spread over vast territory from the Carpathians in the West to upper Don-river in the East and from Ladoga lake in the North to the region of the Dnepr-river in the South. On their way the Slavs assimilated many tribes, for instance, Finno-Ugric. Signs of these international contacts are still registered in the Russian language, even the toponym Moscow is said to be of Finno-Ugric origin. The Slavs gradually formed big tribal unions (polyane, drevlyane, vyatichi), powerful enough to make raids on the greatest empire of those days, Byzantium, forcing Byzantian leaders to write manuscripts "How to fight Slavic barbarians".
In the 6th-7th centuries one of those unions, led by Kiy, established the city of Kiev, which was to become the capital of the ancient Russian State known as Kievian Rus. Princes of many small principalities were constantly fighting for power so an interesting decision was made to solve the problem: the Varangians (Vikings) were invited to rule the country. One of them, Ryurik, settled in Novgrod to found a dynasty, which would lead Russia to prosperity and glory, Ryurikovichi dynasty. Among his famous descendants were Prince Oleg and Prince Vladimir. Prince Oleg, the great warrior, conquered Constantinople and united Novgorod and Kiev establishing Kievian Rus. In 988 Prince Vladimir baptised Russia into Orthodox Christianity predetermining the future of Russia for many centuries.
Moscow was mentioned for the first time in chronicles under the year 1147. It was a small fortress and didn't play any important role until the 14th century.
The Mongol-Tatar Invasion
Kievian Rus consisted of many principalities, each with a prince eager to reign in Kiev. Their avidity and thirst for power caused many bloody intrigues and intestine strives. This led to disunion and weakening of the state. As a result in 1237 Russians fell easy victims to the well-organized Mongolian troops under the leadership of Batu Khan. In 1237 Tatar-Mongolian army occupied Ryazan, then Moscow, Vladimir, Kozelsk and finally in 1240 "the Mother of Russian cities", Kiev, was conquered and burnt down by the bellicose nomads. The fall of Kiev signified the decline of the Kievian Rus. For the next 240 years abased Russia paid exorbitant yearly tributes to the khans, though Russian princes were allowed to govern the country themselves.
Rise of Moscow

A proverb says: "Every cloud has a silver lining". Indeed, this difficult situation gave Moscow a chance to rise and to become one of the most influential principalities. In the 14th century Moscow Prince Ivan I Kalita ("Moneybags") was appointed chief "tax-collector"; this fact obviously gave Moscow supremacy over its neighbours. Yet Moscow was advantageously situated in the centre of many trade routes, which allowed the city to flourish. Ivan Kalita (1325-1340) was a very clever and cruel ruler, able to move heaven and earth in order to get what he wanted. During his reign Metropolitan See was transferred to Moscow to prove its importance; gradually Moscow became the richest principality and turned out to be a real threat to the Tatar-Mongolian power.
50 years later Mongolian army suffered their first ever defeat (known as the Battle of Kulikovo) from the reunited forces of many separate principalities led by Ivan Kalita's grandson, the Grand Prince of Moscow Principality Dmitry Donskoy (1359-1389). The centralization of Russian lands around Moscow began.
Anyhow, it was not until the reign of Ivan III (1462-1505), Dmitry Donskoy's grandson, that the unification of Russian principalities around Moscow was completed and the Tatar yoke was finally shaken off. Ivan the Third married Sofia Paleolog, the niece of the last Emperor of Byzantium, that had fallen to the Ottomans in 1453. Probably Sofia presented the country with the coat of arms - double-headed eagle - which is said to be of Byzantine origin. Ivan's marriage provoked the idea of Russia being the one and only successor of the Great Constantinople and the only true defender of Orthodoxy. Moscow was often referred to as "the Third Rome": the "First Rome", or the ancient one, perished because of its adherence to paganism; the "Second Rome" - Constantinople - collapsed because of its treason of Orthodoxy. Moscow became the "Third Rome" and the "Forth one" would never appear. Ivan the Third initiated the reconstruction of Kremlin in stone and he was also the one to thank for the erection of brick walls around Kremlin and the area of Kitai-Gorod.
7.Business Groups :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Moscow International Business Association (MIBA)
Established in 1997 and politically supported by Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, the Association organizes investment forums and other major business events in Moscow and abroad. MIBA has 18 regional offices, as well as offices in the US, Israel, Zambia, Germany and Finland. Recently MIBA’s member list contains about 200 foreign and Russian companies, dynamically working on Moscow and Russian market. The main purpose of MIBA is to form top-comfort conditions for SME activity in Moscow and regions Russian Government cooperates with.
Address: Novy Arbat ul., 36/9
Metro: Smolenskaya
Tel: 690-9107
Fax: 694-7820
E-mail: miba@mibas.ru
Web: www.mibas.ru
8.Community and Religious Organizations:: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Russian-Indian Heritage Academy
Russian-Indian Heritage Academy invites all to attend various courses, weekend seminars and practical individual yoga and meditation sessions for combating physchosomatic problems related to stress, hypertension,
diabetes and asthma. Please contact us at riha@indorussia.ru.
9.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
2. Import of Artwork & Antiques to Russia
When you are moving to Russia and are bringing artwork and/or antiques into the country from abroad, ask your moving company to register them with Russian customs for import.
You should also register any artwork & antiques with Russian customs when bringing them back to Russia from a business trip or vacation abroad, in particular if the item(s) is (are) over 50 years old.
If you / your moving company register your artwork and antiques when bringing them into Russia, the export permit for those items can be obtained from the MOC without any additional expertise, normally within 1 to 5 working days.
For more information on importing artwork & antiques to the Russian Federation, please go to the page on Customs: Taking your Personal Belongings out of the Country when you Leave / Bringing them into the Country when Moving to Russia.
10.Establishing a Business in Russia  
Form of legal presence in Russia influences all aspects of activity including possibility for making deals and tax consequences of the deals, financial and tax accounting and reporting, possibilities under customs, currency control legislation, ability to employ foreign nationals, repatriation of income, application of international treaties and many others. Therefore, particular attention must be paid to Russian business modeling to be made PRIOR setting up legal presence in Russia.
There are several forms for a foreign investor to start business in the Russian Federation. Foreign investor may set up (or register) a Russian legal entity in the form of limited liability company, joint-stock company (which can be private or public) or partnership. The other way is to register a representative or branch office of a foreign company in Russia.
In order to get more information on the different types of entities that you can establish in Russia click to Comparison table
11.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
DISCLAIMER - The above information was compiled by Allied Pickfords Moscow and is distributed on an “AS IS” basis, without warranty. Please note that customs regulations are subject to change at any time and without prior notice. The preceding information is a brief summary of customs regulations applicable to the export and import of motor vehicles from and to the Russian Federation and is being provided for general guidance only. Allied Pickfords cannot be held liable for any costs, damage, delays, loss or other detrimental events resulting from non-compliance with Russian Federation customs regulations or alleged to have been caused directly or indirectly by the information provided here.
12.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Prechistenka-Ostozhenka::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
The area has a rich historical background and several exceptional sides: it is situated on the river bank near the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Kremlin, Red Square and some of the most popular museums. The architecture of the area corresponded to the unpretentious tastes of its inhabitants: modest apartment houses were side by side with taverns and bars. Over many centuries of its existence, it has earned the reputation of the most expensive, prestigious and fashionable area of the city. Moscow's guests are attracted by its proximity to the historic walls of the Kremlin and the domes of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The area is very calm and cosy.
Prechistenka and Ostozhenka streets seem to be twins: their names are always mentioned together but their role in Moscow history was different.
Prechistenka was popular among nobility and it is still well seen in local toponyms: many streets wear names of famous noble families (Gagariny, Lopukhiny, Naschekiny). Best architects were invited to design patrimonial palaces for them. Luckily many of the mansions survived through all the fires and historical cataclysms and today allow us to enjoy this corner of old Moscow. In the beginning of Prechistenka an old house called Krasnye Palaty ("Red Chambers") is hiding behind the monument to Engels. Built in the end of the 17th century former residence of prince Lopukhin was completely forgotten. Only in 1972, partly ruined and partly reconstructed, it was discovered by accident among the houses prepared for the demolishing due to president Nikson's visit. House No 11 which is now Tolstoy museum and house No 12, Pushkin Museum, have more in common than just being museums of great persons: these former noble mansions were both built after projects of architect Grigoriev and they are both known as masterpieces of Moscow Empire style.

The Academy of Art occupies house No 21; until 1917 it belonged to a member of the famous manufacturer family - Ivan Morozov. Love to art was in the blood of this family and Ivan was not an exception: being a true admirer of Impressionism, he possessed one of the best collections of modern European art in Russia (Manet, Sisley, Van Gogh, and Renoir). He was also the first patron of Mark Chagall.
Prechistenskiye Vorota Square
If you go around the Cathedral than at the corner of Soymonovsky passage and Prechistenskaya embankment there is one house that stands out among others - Pertsov's house (No 1). This unusual apartment house was designed by Malutin, the official author of "matreshka". He attempted to revive the world of pagan antiquity and tried to create the spirit of pre-Christian times by using the symbols of the chief deity of the pagan pantheon and mysterious sombre colours. From 1908 to 1915 it housed a legendary cabaret "The Bat" and remembers Stanislavsky, Nemirovich-Danchenko and many other actors as its visitors. Now Pertsov's house belongs to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ostozhenka
Ostozhenka appeared as part of the old road from "Kievan Rus" to "Vladimir-Suzdal Rus", directly adjacent to the crossing of the Moscow River, the so-called Crimean bridge. In contradiction to Prechistenka, Ostozhenka was rather modest street. Apartment houses, inns and cheap eating places - that is Ostozhenka of the 19th century. Moscow aristocracy disliked decent Ostozhenka and began to settle there only in the 18th century and in the first quarter of the 19th century. Although the fire of 1812 demolished most mansions, the spirit of ancient medieval times still lives on in the narrow winding quiet lanes, old yards and houses that stretch down to the Moscow River. Today Ostozhenka is a beautiful, safe and very convenient neighbourhood adjacent to the Arbat area. Within walking distance, you will find Kremlin, Pushkin Museum, Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
As every street Ostozhenka has its legends. According to one of them merchant Filatov decided to quit drinking and as a result of this crucial decision we see a symbolic wine-glass turned upside-down on the top of his apartment house (house No 3 at the corner of Ostozhenka and Obydensky lane). One of Moscow's most interesting styles in architecture was Art Nouveau, or Modern, and Ostozhenka is a proud "owner" of such a beautiful sample of it as Kekushev's mansion (No 21). Kekushev together with the architect of Moderne Fedor Schechter created true architectural masterpieces in the beginning of the 20th century.
Matvey Kozakov designed an impressive residence for P. Eropkin, Moscow Commander-in-Chief during the reign of Catherine the Great. He suppressed a "plague riot" in 1771 when frightened people were about to destroy the city. Today his house is an alma mater for future polyglots: the Moscow University of Linguistics. Pozharny lane boasts proudly rising bronze Peter the Great surrounded by fogs of the Moscow River. This surreal sight sometimes shocks foreign visitors.
13.October Revolution (1917)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
There were several reasons for the revolution in 1917. One of them was Russia's defeat in the Russian-Japan war in 1905, which considerably damaged the reputation of the Russian government. Poor living conditions of working classes, and government's refusal to satisfy people's requirements for better life resulted in a demonstration of protest on January 9th, 1905, which was ruthlessly shot by the governmental forces; more than a thousand people died that day. Today this event is known as "the Bloody Sunday". This execution gave impulse to the revolution of 1905. It was suppressed shortly after, some basic civil rights were promised, the first Russian parliament (Duma) was elected, but it was obvious that the situation was about to explode.
The final drop was Russia's taking part in the World War I. By 1916 the country had lost more than 3,000,000 men, and people had no desire to fight and die for the Tsar any more. The Bolsheviks (Russian communists) used this unstable situation and captured the wills of millions of Russian with promises to finish the war, to give land to peasants and to build a state of equality.
In February 1917 the entire world observed the end of monarchy in Russia: strikes broke out in St.Petersburg, people took the streets and finally the tsar had to abdicate the throne. Now the power was in the hands of Workers' and Soldiers' Soviets. Later the Provisional Government was elected but it was still unable to solve the main problems. Under these circumstances the Bolsheviks decided that their time had come and started an armed uprising. In the night, October 26th, the Bolsheviks took the Winter Palace in St.Petersburg, former residence of the tsar occupied by the Provisional Government. A new era began.
Bolsheviks kept their promise and took Russia out of World War I. But exhausted and depressed people were about to face a new disaster - the Civil War. Moscow was made capital again, and from here Lenin and his government directed the "Red army" against anti-revolutionary coalition known as the "Whites". By November 1920 the Whites were thrown out of the country; the living symbol of tsar's Russia, Nikolay II and his family, was brutally butchered in Yekaterinburg already in 1918.
14.Russian Alphabet & Pronunciation :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Russian Alphabet & Pronunciation
The Russian language is a member of the Slavic group of the Indo-European family of languages. Other languages belonging to this group are Belarussian, Bulgarian, Czech, Macedonian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak, Slovenian and Ukrainian.
The principal language of administration in the former Soviet Union, Russian is spoken by about 170 million people as a first language. It is used by an estimated additional 100 million as a second language in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent State and of European Europe. Because of its large number of speakers and its leading position in the former Soviet Union, Russian is one of the chief languages of the world. Used officially by the United Nations, it is important in scientific writing as well. The great literature works written in Russian also have made the language culturally significant.
The Russian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet. The Cyrillic alphabet has augmented from Greek uncial script, using the older Glagolitic alphabet for sounds not available in the Greek language. Cyrillic and Glagolitic were invented by Greek brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius. It was considered that while Cyril may have enhanced Glagolitic, his students, possibly from the first literary school in the medieval Bulgarian Empire (Preslav Literary School), developed Cyrillic from Greek during the 890s as a more suitable script for church books.
Historical Development of Russian
The historical development of Russian is not easy to trace because until the 17th century the religious and cultural language of the Russian people was not Russian but Church Slavic. However, within Russia the latter language became sufficiently altered by the vocabulary and pronunciation of spoken Russian to be transformed into a Russian form of Church Slavic adapted to Russian needs. The earliest existing document containing Russian elements is and Old Church Slavonic text from the 11th century.
When Peter the Great undertook to westernize Russian in the early 18th century, the Russian language was subjected to Western influences and absorbed a number of foreign words. Peter was the first to reform and simplify the Cyrillic alphabet used for Russian.
In the late 18th and 19th century, partly as a result of the work of the great Russian writer Alexander Pushkin, the Russians succeeded in throwing off the dominance of Church Slavic and developing their own tongue into a literary language, which was, nevertheless, influenced and even enriched by the Church Slavic legacy.
Literary Russian is based on the dialect used in and round the city of Moscow, which became the leading cultural center. Extensive reforms, aimed at simplifying and standardizing Russian writing and grammar, took place after the Revolution of 1917.
Cyrillic Alphabet
The Cyrillic alphabet became increasingly widespread over the 12th century. During the next ten centuries the Cyrillic alphabet was adapted because of changes with spoken language developing regional variations. You can find languages across Eastern Europe and Asia written using the Cyrillic alphabet.
The Russian alphabet consists of 33 letters, 11 vowels, 20 consonants and 2 letters which do not have a sound (instead they make the word harder or softer). It is not that easy to master Russian pronunciation because the accent is free, i.e., it can be placed on any syllable. Thus, there are no set rules for stress. The accent of each word has to be learned separately. In fact, the position of the accent on a given word may vary as the word's case and number change when it is inflected. Some words that are spelled alike are distinguished only by a different stress. In addition, no significant differentiation is made between long and short vowels.
Grammatically, Russian is highly inflected. The noun has six cases with an occasional seventh case, the vocative. There are three declensional schemes and three genders. Although the verb has only three tenses, it is enabled by a feature called aspect to express numerous subtle shades of meaning, some of which cannot be rendered in other languages. In addition, The Russian verb has five moods and four voices.
Slang
Russian is a very rich language with a very large number of slang words and expressions. New words and expressions appear on a constant basis with many being derived from the English language.
Teenagers have their very own slang, as do members of various professions. If you are going to work in an office environment, you will hear a lot of words that sound English but aren't. If you want to understand more of what people and teenagers talk about, ask your Russian teacher for help.
Many teachers are reluctant to teach slang (not to mention swear words), but you can always turn to your Russian colleagues and friends for explanations and translations of words and expressions. When learning and using slang, remember that there are many shades of politeness, not-so-politeness and rudeness.
15.Russia in the 19th Century::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
In 1812 Napoleon army invaded Russia. Russia had already taken part in the war against Napoleon but suffered defeats against France, such as the Battle of Austerlitz (1805), and signed the humiliating Treaty of Tilsit in 1807. This time everything was different. This critical situation united Russian people and helped them to find powers to expel Frenchmen out of the country. The weather was also on the Russian side as Napoleon had underestimated severe climate in Russia and, left without supplies, hundreds of thousands French soldiers froze to death during their winter campaign. In order to save the country and not to let Napoleon enjoy triumphal entry to the ancient capital, the great Russian commander Mikhail Kutuzov decided to sacrifice Moscow. Deserting the city, Russian troops set Moscow on fire; as a result two thirds of the wooden city were destroyed. Left without food, which they hoped to find in Moscow, French soldiers were forced to abandon the city and start their terrible retreat.
Later Moscow's architectural look was completely changed; a brand new architectural plan was introduced by Osip Bove, the chief architect of Moscow reconstruction after 1812. Rebuilding the historical centre of the city, Bove introduced extremely patriotic Empire Style, mostly presented in noble mansions.
The Napoleonic wars were a turning point in the history of the Russian Empire, as many soldiers returned from Europe "infected" with liberal ideas. Moscow became a fertile environment for the seeds of growing political discontent, which resulted in so-called "Decembrists Rebellion". The Decembrists strove for the freedom of the serfs, constitutional monarchy and other civil rights. But this small group of liberal noblemen couldn?t change the situation; instead they provoked a period of reaction and stagnation during the reign of "the Iron Tsar", Nikolay I (1825-1855).
Finally the Big day for Russian peasants came: 1861 is the year of the Emancipation of the serfs. Slavery in Russia was officially over and some other liberal reforms by tsar Alexander II (1855-1881) opened the way for capitalism in Russia. Anyhow, former serfs were too poor to buy their own land and were forced to go to Moscow and other big cities searching for a job, as it was the time of rapid advances in industrialization. They worked at factories 14-16 hours a day, while their families were starving at home. Their miserable existence was one of the reasons why the Bolshevik's revolution was accepted so easily by the working classes.
16.Reign of Peter the Great (Late 17th-18th Centuries)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Peter the Great
Peter the Great was probably the most discussed, most controversial and most extraordinary Russian Tsar. Determined to bring Russia back on her feet and to make her a modern European state, Peter the Great wouldn't stop at nothing, thus making Russia's way to progress rather painful.
As a child he had seen relatives murdered in Kremlin during the Streltsy rebellion (strelets - member of privileged military corps in the 17th century Russia). This may have affected his character developing his predisposition to fits of rage and a pathological distrust for Moscow. 16 years later Peter got the chance for revenge on the Streltsys, when he executed over a thousand of them after another rebellion. This was a perfect demonstration of how he used to deal with his enemies.
Hatred for patriarchal Moscow and desire to change stagnant way of living in Russia forced Peter the Great to carry out many crucial reforms. In order to get familiar with modern European technologies in shipbuilding and other fields, he became the first tsar ever to go abroad with the aim of studying. After this educational trip Peter got reforms going: he built Russian navy, reformed the army, restructured administrative system, supported the development of Russian industry and trade. He was also a very successful commander, defeating the Swedes, who had been a threat to Russia for more than a century, and the Turks, giving Russia free access to the Black and Caspian Sea. All this allowed to say that Peter the Great "hacked a window to Europe" for Russia.
Being an admirer of Western life, Peter the Great insisted on Western style clothing for his courtiers, literally shaved boyars' beards, which reminded him of so much hated old Russia. His reforms split Russian society into Slavophiles and Westerners; this division lasted for centuries. Peter's final step in fighting the spirit of old Russia was the removal of the capital from Moscow to recently built pompous St.Petersburg, a city standing on the swamps and bones of dead builders. For the next 200 years Moscow existed in St.Petersburg's shadow being Russia's second city.
17.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Arbat::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
A wonderful area situated around one of the most ancient streets of Moscow. From the late 18th and 19th centuries, this area was dominated by the home-estates of nobles; in the second half of the 19th century, this was the place where one would find the majority of Moscow's intelligentsia. For a long time Arbat was the haunt of artists, musicians, poets, writers and intellectuals who created an indescribable bohemian atmosphere in this area of rambling streets and overgrown courtyards. Arbat along with its surroundings was almost a sacred place for many generations, an essence of this city, one of the symbols of Moscow.
Arbatskiye Vorota Square
Khudozhestvenny cinema is the first to attract your attention here with its garish posters. It was built in 1909 and in 1913 was rebuilt by the great architect Fedor Schechter, the author of such masterpieces of Moscow Moderne Style as Ryabushinsky house on Malaya Nikitskaya street and Morozov's residence on Spiridonovka street. Here the first Soviet sound film was shown and young Shostakovich worked as pianist.
Stary Arbat ("Old Arbat")
The first time Arbat was mentioned in the chronicles in 1493 and it kept its name through all these centuries, even during Soviet times when nearly every street was renamed after some communistic hero. The name Arbat is of eastern origin and it means "suburbs". The road from Moscow to Smolensk laid via Arbat and Vozdvizhenka streets and this road connected Moscow with Western Europe.
For Muscovites, it's not just a street, but a special "piece" of the capital, a kind of "Moscow within Moscow", with its own history, identity and traditions. The street's image is created by its residents. It was always "a closed world", full of exceptional people: the aristocracy and intellectuals. The list of famous Arbat people "arbatovtsy", works written, masterpieces created and scientific discoveries made in this place could serve as information for an encyclopedia. This is also the reason why many memorial museums and memorial flats are placed here. Arbat has always been one of the most beautiful streets of the city. Gradually, century after century, the street emerged with its own unique architectural style. It boasts original ancient mansions with moldings, balconies and caryatids, small cozy streets, laced lamps, stone paved roads.
During the Soviet government, Stary Arbat changed irreversibly: in early 1960s, it became the laid back street of the new modern avenue - Novy Arbat. This led to the destruction of many 18th and 19th century monuments; nevertheless, Arbat has not lost its charm. In 1986, Arbat became a pedestrian street. Today over forty embassies and ambassadors' residences are located here.
House No 2 in the beginning of Arbat is one of the best Moscow restaurants called "Prague". First it was a common inn but later it turned into a fancy place with exquisite cuisine. It was very popular among Moscow artistic bohemia. Here Chekhov was honoured after the first night of "Three Sisters".
Almost every old street has connection with Pushkin. Arbat is not an exception: in the house No 53 Pushkin and his beautiful wife Natalya Goncharova lived for a while after marriage. Nobody paid attention to this refined blue house for a long time; it was a communal flat until 1986 when Pushkin Museum was finally organised. Several years ago Arbat was presented with a sculpture of this famous couple.
The Tsoy's Wall at the corner of Arbat and Krivoarbatsky lane was an alternative to official monuments. First inscriptions and graffiti appeared shortly after the death of Victor Tsoy, Soviet rock legend of the 1980s. His fans keep coming and adding new signs expressing their emotions.
Another memorial flat is located in the house No 55. Here poet Andrey Bely, one of the greatest representatives of Symbolism in Russian literature was born. It has the same entrance with the Pushkin museum.
Arbat is a street for souvenir hunters. Different kinds of matreshkas from traditionally made ones to the ones looking like Gorbachev or even Osama Bin Laden; Russian fur hats, famous decorated shawls or Moscow views are always for sale. Antique and art shops offer wide range of precious souvenirs. After getting tired of choosing presents it is nice to have lunch in one of Arbat's numerous pubs and restaurants or listen to one of the impromptu street concerts given by just another undiscovered talent.
Arbat Lanes
The first thing that one notices in the area of Arbat is that there are almost no straight lines. It is a fanciful combination of curved lanes, gardens and courtyards. Wandering about cosy and quiet little streets might become a pleasant adventure.
In Krivoarbatsky lane a fence hides a true treasure: a strange looking house in the shape of two interlocking cylinders with more than 60 six-sided windows which was designed by the world-famous Soviet architect Konstantin Melnikov. One of the best representatives of Constructivism built this experimental house for his family and that allowed him to use all his imagination. But architect pursued a practical end as well: the house was planned to be a prototype for future housing developments.
Krivoarbatsky lane is connected to Plotnikov lane. In the 17th century it was inhabited with carpenters and joiners, and here is the origin for its name ("plotnik" stands for "carpenter"). An apartment house No 4/5 built in 1907 attracts attention with an interesting sculpture frieze picturing Turgenev, Gogol and Tolstoy surrounded by mythological figures; surprising poses of the writers' sculptures caused many rumours and malignant remarks among Muscovites. Originally sculptor Andreev made this frieze for some museum, but for unknown reason it was split into parts and put on the walls of this house.
One of the most famous lanes of Arbat - Sivtsev Vrazhek - boasts a residence of the count Fedor Tolstoy known as The American. This man with a fame of a cardsharper and troublemaker took part in the first Russian round-the-world trip with admiral Kruzenshtern. For some nasty jokes the American was left on one of the Aleutian Islands and had to walk his way home through Siberia getting covered with tattoos on his way which later allowed him to shock noble ladies in Moscow. Across the street in the house No 27 there is a memorial flat of Alexander Herzen, a radical Russian writer and probably the first Russian political emigrant.
Novy Arbat ("New Arbat")
Novy Arbat is a perfect example of resoluteness and implacability of Soviet leaders. This monster street appeared after Nikita Khruschev's visit to "The Island of Freedom" - Cuba. He fell in love with avenues and sky-scrappers in Havana and decided to build a similar street in Moscow. An entire block of old Moscow with its little streets and beautiful houses was destroyed. Today Novy Arbat is an entertainment and shopping street with numerous nightclubs, boutiques, restaurants and shops. The only sad reminder of the old days is the Church of Simeon Stolpnik. It is the oldest building in the area and the only sample of 17th century architecture. Among those giants it looks more like an expensive souvenir.
18.Arbat::Ancient Times and Rise of Moscow (5th-15th centuries)::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Arbat
A wonderful area situated around one of the most ancient streets of Moscow. From the late 18th and 19th centuries, this area was dominated by the home-estates of nobles; in the second half of the 19th century, this was the place where one would find the majority of Moscow's intelligentsia. For a long time Arbat was the haunt of artists, musicians, poets, writers and intellectuals who created an indescribable bohemian atmosphere in this area of rambling streets and overgrown courtyards. Arbat along with its surroundings was almost a sacred place for many generations, an essence of this city, one of the symbols of Moscow.
Arbatskiye Vorota Square
Khudozhestvenny cinema is the first to attract your attention here with its garish posters. It was built in 1909 and in 1913 was rebuilt by the great architect Fedor Schechter, the author of such masterpieces of Moscow Moderne Style as Ryabushinsky house on Malaya Nikitskaya street and Morozov's residence on Spiridonovka street. Here the first Soviet sound film was shown and young Shostakovich worked as pianist.
Stary Arbat (Old Arbat)
The first time Arbat was mentioned in the chronicles in 1493 and it kept its name through all these centuries, even during Soviet times when nearly every street was renamed after some communistic hero. The name Arbat is of eastern origin and it means "suburbs". The road from Moscow to Smolensk laid via Arbat and Vozdvizhenka streets and this road connected Moscow with Western Europe.
For Muscovites, it's not just a street, but a special "piece" of the capital, a kind of "Moscow within Moscow", with its own history, identity and traditions. The street's image is created by its residents. It was always "a closed world", full of exceptional people: the aristocracy and intellectuals. The list of famous Arbat people "arbatovtsy", works written, masterpieces created and scientific discoveries made in this place could serve as information for an encyclopedia. This is also the reason why many memorial museums and memorial flats are placed here. Arbat has always been one of the most beautiful streets of the city. Gradually, century after century, the street emerged with its own unique architectural style. It boasts original ancient mansions with moldings, balconies and caryatids, small cozy streets, laced lamps, stone paved roads.
During the Soviet government, Stary Arbat changed irreversibly: in early 1960s, it became the laid back street of the new modern avenue - Novy Arbat. This led to the destruction of many 18th and 19th century monuments; nevertheless, Arbat has not lost its charm. In 1986, Arbat became a pedestrian street. Today over forty embassies and ambassadors' residences are located here.
House No 2 in the beginning of Arbat is one of the best Moscow restaurants called "Prague". First it was a common inn but later it turned into a fancy place with exquisite cuisine. It was very popular among Moscow artistic bohemia. Here Chekhov was honoured after the first night of "Three Sisters".
Almost every old street has connection with Pushkin. Arbat is not an exception: in the house No 53 Pushkin and his beautiful wife Natalya Goncharova lived for a while after marriage. Nobody paid attention to this refined blue house for a long time; it was a communal flat until 1986 when Pushkin Museum was finally organised. Several years ago Arbat was presented with a sculpture of this famous couple.
The Tsoy's Wall at the corner of Arbat and Krivoarbatsky lane was an alternative to official monuments. First inscriptions and graffiti appeared shortly after the death of Victor Tsoy, Soviet rock legend of the 1980s. His fans keep coming and adding new signs expressing their emotions.
Another memorial flat is located in the house No 55. Here poet Andrey Bely, one of the greatest representatives of Symbolism in Russian literature was born. It has the same entrance with the Pushkin museum.
Arbat is a street for souvenir hunters. Different kinds of matreshkas from traditionally made ones to the ones looking like Gorbachev or even Osama Bin Laden; Russian fur hats, famous decorated shawls or Moscow views are always for sale. Antique and art shops offer wide range of precious souvenirs. After getting tired of choosing presents it is nice to have lunch in one of Arbat's numerous pubs and restaurants or listen to one of the impromptu street concerts given by just another undiscovered talent.
Arbat Lanes
The first thing that one notices in the area of Arbat is that there are almost no straight lines. It is a fanciful combination of curved lanes, gardens and courtyards. Wandering about cosy and quiet little streets might become a pleasant adventure.
In Krivoarbatsky lane a fence hides a true treasure: a strange looking house in the shape of two interlocking cylinders with more than 60 six-sided windows which was designed by the world-famous Soviet architect Konstantin Melnikov. One of the best representatives of Constructivism built this experimental house for his family and that allowed him to use all his imagination. But architect pursued a practical end as well: the house was planned to be a prototype for future housing developments.
Krivoarbatsky lane is connected to Plotnikov lane. In the 17th century it was inhabited with carpenters and joiners, and here is the origin for its name ("plotnik" stands for "carpenter"). An apartment house No 4/5 built in 1907 attracts attention with an interesting sculpture frieze picturing Turgenev, Gogol and Tolstoy surrounded by mythological figures; surprising poses of the writers' sculptures caused many rumours and malignant remarks among Muscovites. Originally sculptor Andreev made this frieze for some museum, but for unknown reason it was split into parts and put on the walls of this house.
One of the most famous lanes of Arbat - Sivtsev Vrazhek - boasts a residence of the count Fedor Tolstoy known as The American. This man with a fame of a cardsharper and troublemaker took part in the first Russian round-the-world trip with admiral Kruzenshtern. For some nasty jokes the American was left on one of the Aleutian Islands and had to walk his way home through Siberia getting covered with tattoos on his way which later allowed him to shock noble ladies in Moscow. Across the street in the house No 27 there is a memorial flat of Alexander Herzen, a radical Russian writer and probably the first Russian political emigrant.
Novy Arbat (New Arbat)
Novy Arbat is a perfect example of resoluteness and implacability of Soviet leaders. This monster street appeared after Nikita Khruschev's visit to "The Island of Freedom" - Cuba. He fell in love with avenues and sky-scrappers in Havana and decided to build a similar street in Moscow. An entire block of old Moscow with its little streets and beautiful houses was destroyed. Today Novy Arbat is an entertainment and shopping street with numerous nightclubs, boutiques, restaurants and shops. The only sad reminder of the old days is the Church of Simeon Stolpnik. It is the oldest building in the area and the only sample of 17th century architecture. Among those giants it looks more like an expensive souvenir.
19.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
E-mail: kva@kva-kva.ru
Web: www.kva-kva.ru
20.Landlord Registration Letter :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Landlord Registration Letter
This is a sample letter for your landlord to sign in the presence of a Russian notary as part of the expatriate visa registration process in Moscow.
21.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.
Myasnitskaya
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
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".
22.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
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.
Vozdvizhenka
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.
23.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Polyanka-Yakimanka::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Krymsky Val
Krymsky Val street is named after the palace of the Crimea Khan's embassy, which was located here till the 17th century. In 1970s a building supposed to house new State Art Gallery was built at Krymsky Val, 10. It was planned to move here the exhibits from Tretyakov Gallery and therefore forget the name of Pavel Tretyakov (as a merchant, he couldn't be respected by the Soviets). Luckily, new art gallery wasn't created; new building was called The Central House of Artists, housed an exhibition "Art of the 20th Century" and became a branch of Tretyakov Gallery.
Around the building of the Central House of Artists sprang up a lovely park of sculptures, now popular for promenades. Among fanciful creations of young and talented but not very famous sculptors, sullen statues of Soviet leaders serve as objects of curious children's and tourist's affection.
Bolshaya Polyanka
According to the historical evidence, settlement named Moscow appeared in the junction of two major roads: from Novgorod to Ryazan and from Smolensk to Suzdal. As Polyanka was the part of the first one, it is one of the oldest streets in Russian capital. In the 16-17th centuries the street in the South was surrounded by spacious fields and meadows; it explains the origin of its rather strange name (literally "Polyanka" means "Great Lawn").
Church of St. George Neokesariisky will be the only sight to attract your attention here. On the day of this saint tsar Vasily II returned from Tatar captivity and built this church in honour of this occasion; this is the reason for such an unusual name. Designed by Russian master craftsmen Karp Guba and Ivan Kuznechik, contemporary church with hipped roof was built in 1669 to replace its 15-century wooden ancestor.
Bolshaya Yakimanka
The street was named after the Church of Ioakim and Anne, which formerly stood here. Surprisingly, but such strange abbreviation (Iakim-Anka) is quite common for Russians. The street was almost completely rebuilt in Soviet era, and only two old buildings survived till now. First of them, the Church of Ioann the Warrior, was built in Baroque style by Ivan Zaprudny, one of the best Russian architects of the 17th century, in honour of the victory in the Poltava battle. The second one, Igumnov's house (architect Pozdeev, late 19th century) is an interesting example of pasticcio of Old Russian house linked with imitation of 17th-century brick architecture details. Now it is the Reception House of French Embassy.
24.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.
TAXATION OF EMPLOYER-PROVIDED STOCK
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.
Withholding
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.
DEDUCTIONS
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.
COMMON PITFALLS
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.
25.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
If you are leaving or coming to Russia with just a few suitcases and boxes and no artwork or antiques, you can probably get by just carrying your items as extra baggage. But if you are a family or professional moving your household, you need a reliable moving company with experience in Russia - such as Allied Pickfords. Shipping procedures and customs regulations are difficult and can change suddenly with little notice, and most of the necessary forms and declarations have to be completed in Russian.
26.Holidays & Dialing Codes :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Russian Federation Holidays
January 1, 2
January 7
February 23
March 8
May 1, 2
May 9
June 12
November 7
December 12
New Year's Day
Christmas Day
Defenders of the Motherland Day
International Women's Day
Labor Day
Victory Day
Independence Day
Day of Accord and Reconciliation
Constitution Day
27.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 editor@expat.ru.
AEB
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.
element
A fortnightly English-language entertainment newspaper to connect you to the top events in Moscow's cultural life. Published since 2003, element has gained a following among Muscovites and expats for its up-to-date reporting on concerts, movies, restaurants, clubs, sports, theater and other cultural happenings. Offers independent reviews, original horoscopes and engaging interviews in the newspaper every other Thursday, as well as a full-color Russian-English restaurant guide four times a year.

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.
RBCC
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.
Russia Profile
An English-language information service offering expert analysis of Russian politics, economics, society and culture. A joint project of RIA Novosti and Independent Media, the service consists of a print magazine and a free online supplement providing comments from a Weekly Experts' Panel, statistics from a Resources Section, a Global Russia Calendar of Events, and Book Reviews. The magazine is published ten times yearly, each with a central theme and distributed for free to any location.
Russia Today
Russia Today is the first 24/7 English-language news channel to present the Russian point of view on events happening in Russia and around the globe. RT provides viewers with breaking news, stories on politics, business, and public affairs. Among Russia Today’s indisputable achievements are fast and high-quality direct coverage of crucial events, as well as exclusive interviews with high-ranking personalities, leading economists, politicians, and prominent figures in culture, art, and sports. Russia Today started broadcasting in December 2005. Since then, RT has earned the respect of its viewers and fellow journalists all over the world for its commitment to independent journalism.
28.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.
29.Community Organizations:: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
British Business Club
The British Business Club is a business networking and social club providing a platform for British, associated Russian and other ex-pat business people to meet at monthly meetings and other events. We are a non-profit making organisation and our aim is to raise money for our chosen charity. We are pleased to welcome new members. For more information please contact hello@britishclub.ru.
Web: www.britishclub.ru
30.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Boulevard Ring::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Today boulevards are Moscow integral part, and it is difficult to imagine that only two centuries ago there were no trees and park benches but an assailable fortress wall, the wall which surrounded the area of the Kremlin and Kitai-Gorod. It was built of white stone, therefore the enclosed city was named Bely Gorod, or "White City". For many centuries this wall, built in the end of the 16th century, scared away the enemies with its imposing size - 10 metres (33 ft.) high and 5-6 (16-19 ft.) metres thick. By the 18th century it had lost its defensive significance and started to dilapidate; that is why it was dismantled and replaced with the Boulevard Ring.
The Boulevard Ring is comprised of the following boulevards: Gogolevsky Boulevard, Nikitsky Boulevard, Tverskoy Boulevard, Strastnoy Boulevard, Petrovsky Boulevard, Rozhdestvensky Boulevard, Sretensky Boulevard, Chistoprudny Boulevard, Pokrovsky Boulevard, Yauzsky Boulevard. 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 the Boulevard Ring), 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.
Gogolevsky Boulevard
Gogolevsky Boulevard is the only one that preserved some features of former Moscow landscape: boulevard's inner side is much higher than its outer side. It is a lovely place for a promenade and a favourite place of dating couples. Close to Arbat there is a monument to one of Russia's greatest writers - Nikolay Gogol, whose name was given to this boulevard.
At the corner of Znamenka street and Gogolevsky boulevard there is a reconstructed mansion of Apraksiny, one of the richest families in 19th century Moscow. Their house was famous for its theatre where some of Russian greatest actors appeared on stage for the first time. In 1812 French officer of the Napoleon army Henry Beil stayed in this house. This officer was to become the world famous writer Stendhal. House No 10 is famous for secret meetings of the Decembrists (the first Russian revolutionaries). Today it is occupied by Russian Chess Association.
Petrovsky Boulevard
Petrovsky boulevard was named after the Vysokopetrovsky monastery. But buildings here are not as old as the monastery. The oldest one is dated 1786. Once it was a palace of count Tatishchev, noble grandee of Catherine the Great. Magnificent balls attracted all Moscow aristocrats here and even Tsar Pavel I favoured Tatishchev with His Majestic visit. Elegantly looking house No 17 was built by R. Klein. Probably once it attracted as many people as Tatishchev's balls: it was a famous wine-shop owned by Dupret.
House No 14 at the corner of Neglinnaya street and Petrovsky boulevard is a "permanent address" of Melpomene and Thalia - famous Moscow theatre "School of Modern Play". Before the revolution it was an institution more appropriate for a residence of the Cooking Muse: beloved by Moscow intellectuals restaurant "Hermitage" offered its delicious dishes here. Petr Tchaikovsky enjoyed it enough to organise his own wedding here in 1877. And the whole Russia must be grateful to the chef of this restaurant Lucien Olivier for inventing a salad later known in Russia as "Olivier" and in the rest of the world as "the Russian salad": a mixture of potatoes, eggs, meat, cucumbers and plenty of mayonnaise. And another fine tradition began here: the day of Tatyana, students' day, was celebrated here for the first time.
Petrovsky Boulevard runs into Trubnaya Square. In the 17th century there was once a deep hole in the wall of the White City: Neglinka river used this hole to carry its waters to the White City and the square used this hole or pipe ("truba") as a name. In 1840s the first pet market ("Ptichy rynok", literally "bird's market") appeared here and brought a nice tradition: every year on the Annunciation day people would let doves free.
Rozhdestvensky Boulevard
Rozhdestvensky boulevrad is the next link in the chain of boulevards. Once it was a steep bank of Neglinka river. The boulevard was given its name after ancient Rozhdestvensky convent which is situated at the corner of the boulevard and Rozhdestvenka street. It is said to be founded by Prince Ivan Kalita's daughter-in-law, countess Maria in 1380s. She was the proud mother of Vladimir the Brave who was a hero of the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380. Many wives and widows of those who had taken part in the battle helped to build this convent.
Most of the ancient buildings have not preserved because of numerous fires that the convent had been through, but some churches survived. The Cathedral of the Nativity of Mother of God was erected in 1501-1505 and in the 19th century one lady donated a sum of money which allowed architect Kozlovsky to add a bell-tower to the architectural ensemble of the convent. In the beginning of the 20th century Fedor Schechter himself was involved in the construction works. When communists came to power they closed the Rozhdestvensky convent to organise communal flats, police office and a club for policemen here. 70 years later it was returned to the Orthodox Church.
Sretenky Boulevard
Rozhdestvensky boulevard used to be a part of Sretensky boulevard but it split off and Sretensky boulevard became the shortest boulevard in Moscow (it is only 214 metres (0.1 mi.) long). Historically, this area was a home for market and trade, with craftsmen living and working here. Nowadays, there are a lot of reconstructed old buildings in that part of Moscow. So, if you are interested in living in the "old city", you should choose the Sretenka street area. In the 17th century, the area of Sretenka was built up by benches of dealers and workshops of handicraftsmen - a new, large Sretensky village. The length of the whole modern Sretenka is only 800 meters (0.5 mi.), but it is literally cut up by lanes: on the left side of the street there are seven, and on right - nine. There are also lanes that do not lead directly to Sretenka, but are in immediate proximity. The area of Sretenka is characterized by a big number of reconstructed buildings, which have in most parts kept the historical facades that are typical for old Moscow. The paradox of the area is that there are a considerable amount of dilapidated buildings, often adjoining modern and reconstructed structures. The area's buildings are concentrated along the streets Sretenka, Trubnaya and Tsvetnoy boulevard, where coffee houses, restaurants and shops are located.
Chistoprudny Boulevard
People come to Chistye Prudy ("Clean Ponds") searching for "Moscow idyll": cosy boulevard, lime-trees and lilacs, boats sliding over the pond and children feeding swans and ducks. A couple of centuries ago everything was quite different. Those "clean" ponds were once a big dirty puddle and butchers, who inhabited the district, used them as a sewage place. Logically the first unofficial name of these ponds was "Foul Ponds".
In the 18th century Alexander Menshikov, Peter the Great's favourite, became owner of this area. His delicate scent couldn't bear terrible stench coming from the ponds, so Menshikov ordered to clean them; since then they have been known as "Clean Ponds". In summer people come here to swim in a boat, and in winter the pond turns into one of the most popular skating-rinks with lovely illumination.
Chistye Prudy gave name to one of the cosiest Moscow boulevards - Chistoprudny boulevard. As well as other Moscow boulevards, in 1820s it replaced the brick walls of the ancient White City. It begins with a monument to one of the best Russian playwrights Alexander Griboedov. He was a person of versatile talents: he sang, brilliantly danced, was successful in studying all the fields of knowledge; he was a master of fence, dashing horseman, and a gifted writer (his most famous play is "Grief from Mind").
To the right from the monument one can see a pink bell-tower with something like a golden cone on the top. It is the Church of the Archangel Gabriel on Arkhangelsky lane. The man who had cleaned the ponds, Alexander Menshikov, ordered to build a cathedral higher then the Ivan the Great's Bell Tower in the Kremlin. At that time it was regarded as an unbelievable impertinence and impudence. Moreover, Menshikov bought a gigantic chiming clock and placed it on the wall of the church. Such arrogance was punished very soon: during a storm lighting hit the tower and the burning debris fell down, crippling and killing the innocent parishioners. Couple of years later Menshikov became seriously ill and fell into disgrace.
Chistoprudny boulevard and its surroundings was a residential area for Moscow nobility; many of their mansions are still seen here. In Bolshoi Kharitonievsky lane there is an imposing 17th century house with fabulous cast fence, which once belonged to a wealthy grandee Yusupov. Yusupov was famous for his fantastic collection of art, not less fantastic collection of mistresses in his harem and his extravagant behaviour.
Considerable part of local buildings appeared in the late 19th - early 20th century. One of them, former apartment house No 14 is a remarkable example of Moscow Art Nouveau. Here architect S. Vashkov tried to revive the spirit of pagan Russia, placing mysterious mythological creatures on the facades. Once this house belonged to the Church of Trinity on the Mire, named after its location on the muddy banks of the Rachka river. During its tercentennial history this church has survived many destructions and reconstructions; as a result of all this it has unfortunately lost its dome. In another former apartment house, No 23, the great film director Sergey Eisenstein, who influenced not only Soviet but also the world's art of film making, lived from 1920 to 1934.
Pokrovsky and Yauzsky Boulevards
Quiet and cosy, they lead down to the Moscow-river; now it is hard to imagine that not far from this peaceful and pleasant area once was situated Moscow underworld, criminal headquarters, true inferno. The district between Pevchesky and Petropavlovsky lanes, known as Khitrovka, inspired fear and horror into the entire city. Thieves, murderers, prostitutes, convicts and fugitives inhabited dark lanes and dirty dens, and even policemen were afraid to step down into this hell. Only in 1923 Soviet police organised a massive raid to Khitrovka and managed to get rid of this pit.
31.Visas :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Visas
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.
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:
- Visa;
- Immigration card;
- Enrollment;
- Work permits/Residency permits.
Types of Visas
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.
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 Visa’ and/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.
Immigration Card
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.
Enrolment and De-enrolment Procedures
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.
32.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.
33.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; capitaltours@col.ru.
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
E-mail: pdtours@yahoo.com
Web: www.toursinrussia.com
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34.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.
35.Tourism::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Tourism
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.
TYPES OF HOTELS
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.
Maps
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.
Tipping
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.
Language
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.
36.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Patriarshiye Prudy::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
The cultural and aristocratic center of Moscow is situated around Patriarshiye Prudy ("Patriarch's Ponds"). Currently, there is only one pond, surrounded by the garden. In the 17th century, it was a whole district called the Goat Marsh, which was part of the Patriarch's suburb. Here, somewhere in the vicinity, was the Patriarch Zhitnii yard. By order of the Patriarch, the Ponds were dug to "supply" fish for the patriarchal table. The choice of the location was ideal, because the ground was swampy and required drainage, and the settlement was one of the centers of the patriarchal economy. In the 17th century, Patriarchiye Prudy were kept clean, but over the years, they were abandoned and forgotten; only after the war of 1812 were the ponds cleaned. Nowadays, the best locations in this area are with a view over the pond. During the warm summer days, the park is filled with people promenading, children playing games and young people sitting and talking on the benches, while in the winter, the pond turns into an ice rink. The area hosts the best restaurants, main theaters and nightlife. This area is also legendary from the literary point of view: a lot of Russian writers (and their protagonists) lived here.
Moreover this is a very popular residential area. It allows for easy access to many central points of interest, including the Kremlin, Tverskaya street with all its stores and restaurants, the Bolshoi Theater, Moscow Conservatory, as well as various fitness and health clubs. The best apartments are located around the pond and along Spiridonovka street, Granatny lane, Bolshaya and Malaya Bronnaya streets, Trekhprudny and Kozikhinsky lanes.
Spiridonovka Street
Spiridonovka street took its name from the no longer existing St. Spiridony Church. The most interesting building here is No 17, one of the first Schechter's works - the Morozov's mansion, built in the late 19th century. Here Gothicism and Neo-Gothicism are mixed; later this specific mixture became the basis for Russian Art Nouveau. The first owner of the house, millionaire and patron of the arts Savva Morozov devoted his whole life (and the huge part of his reaches) to the Moscow Arts Theatre, but the conflict with the theatre management and other nuisances became the cause of his suicide. Currently the Morozov's mansion is the Reception House of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
37.Public Transport::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Public Transport
MOSCOW METRO
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.
BUSES, TROLLEYBUSES, AND TRAMS
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.
Microbuses
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.
COMMUTER AND LONG-DISTANCE TRAINS
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:
Belorussky
Kazansky
Kievsky
Kursky
Leningradsky
Paveletsky
Rizhsky
Savyolovsky
Yaroslavsky
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).
TAXIS
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.

Cars
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.
RIVER TRANSPORT
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.
38.TV Sportland Calendar :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
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Not only the regular bets, we have all opportunities available including a full “in running” betting service
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Added to this, Sportland is the ONLY place in Moscow to watch and bet on LIVE Horse & Dog racing from the UK, USA and South Africa, 7 days a week!!!
Our restaurant has a great range of meals and snacks with the biggest portions you have ever seen.
The bar is always fully stocked with Russian and Western beer/spirits at the most competitive prices.
Sportland Bookmakers – The only place in Moscow to watch and bet on what YOU want!!!
39.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Krasnaya Presnya::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the area developed as a craftsmen's and trade center. Presnya became a large arts and craft shopping centre of the city and a favourite vacation spot for Muscovites. Now it is a very popular location where structures of federal and city value are located: the House of the Government of the Russian Federation, the World Trade Centre, the Moscow Zoo, the Cinema House, ITAR-TASS, Expo Centre. The construction of the large business centre "Moscow City" will cause an active development of this area, eventually turning it into a modern Manhattan. This area is not on the elite areas list despite the fact that one of the very first and well-known elite houses in Moscow - Agalarov House - was erected here. On the other hand, the affinity to Kutuzovsky prospect makes it very attractive to many people. Krasnaya Presnya has some very good, modern apartment buildings, especially on Zoologicheskaya street. Bolshaya and Malaya Gruzinskaya streets are also popular with expatriates, as is Novinsky boulevard.
Despite its revolutionary past (the first strikes that preceded the October Revolution began here), famous American millionaire Armand Hammer built Moscow's first modern skyscraper here in the 1970s. Today it is referred to as the International Trade Center and Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Bolshaya and Malaya Nikitskaya
Bolshaya Nikitskaya street is hard to stick to one Moscow area, as it stretches along from the very center and adjoins Barrikadnaya street in Krasnaya Presnya. Both Bolshaya ("Great") and Malaya ("Small") Nikitskaya streets take their names from the old Nikitsky Monastery founded here in the late 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries they were mostly inhabited by the aristocracy. Luckily, narrow and densely built Bolshaya Nikiskaya was not reconstructed in Soviet times and kept a lot of remarkable buildings.
At the beginning of Bolshaya Nikitskaya one can see the building of Zoological Museum of Moscow State University, constructed after Bykovsky's project especially for this unique collection of zoological rarities. The facade is decorated by zoological mouldings; the light and airy interiors designed by famous animalists design in the same style.
The next attractive building here is the Moscow Conservatory. Vasily Bazhenov designed it in the late 18th century for princess Catherine Dashkova; in I860 it was bought for the Moscow section of the Imperial Russian Music Society headed by outstanding musician Nikolay Rubinstein.
In 1954 a monument to Tchaikovsky, the famous Russian musician and one of the conservatory's founders, was put up in front of the building. In 1940 the Conservatory was named in his honour and since 1958 the Tchaikovsky International Competitions have been held here.
Povarskaya
In the 16th century the area to the south from Bolshaya Nikitskaya street was mostly inhabited by the royal cooks; no wonder that the word "povar" ("cook") became an origin of the street's name. The names of many neighbouring lanes are also connected with the kitchen: Stolovy ("Table"), Khlebny ("Bread"), Nozhovy ("Knife") and others.
In the 18th century Povarskaya was densely populated by Moscow nobles; till the revolution it was considered to be the most aristocratic street in the city. After the revolution luxury mansions of the nobles were either occupied by the State institutions or put at the disposal of foreign embassies.
The church of St. Simeon Stolpnik is situated right in the beginning of the street, at the corner of Novy Arbat and Povarskaya streets. Former parish church of Nikolay Gogol, it's the only 17th-century building on Novy Arbat not touched by the Soviet reconstruction.
Mindovsky's house on the corner of Povarskaya street and Skaryatinsky lane is considered to be one of the best examples of Russian Art Nouveau. Now this architectural masterpiece is occupied by the embassy of the New Zealand. A picturesque mansion with a colonnade on the facade in the end of the street formerly belonged to Sollogub family. But it's much more widely known to Muscovites as the "Rostov House", as Lev Tolstoy "settled" here the heroes of his world-famous novel "War and Peace". The imaginary story of the great writer somehow affected the real destiny of this building: since 1932 it houses the Union of Writers organization.
40.Visas :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Visas
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:
Visa;
Immigration card;
Enrollment;
Work permits/Residency permits.
TYPES OF VISAS
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 Visa’ and/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.
IMMIGRATION CARD
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 AND DE-ENROLMENT PROCEDURES
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.
41.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

In 1533, a three-year-old boy mounted Russia?s throne - Ivan IV (1533-1584), later known as Ivan the Terrible. He was the first Russian Grand Prince to call himself Tsar of All Russia (the word tsar is derived from Caesar). Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan and Astrakhan khanates expanding the territory of Russia to the Urals and Volga region and opening the way to Siberia. He also initiated many reforms that led to further strengthening of tsar?s absolute power: administrative reforms, first steps to serfdom, restructuring of the army etc. Some reforms were clearly positive for the country but they were all carried out ruthlessly; Ivan?s crusades still shock with their relentlessness and cruelty.
Ivan the Terrible was also the founder of Russia?s first police state ("Oprichnina"), which was supposed to suppress every real and potential enemy. Black-hooded agents with dog?s heads, tied to their saddles as a symbol of loyalty to the Tsar, inspired horror and fear in the country. It was the time of terror when every sign of discontent caused ruthless reaction. Thus Moscow rising in 1570 caused executions of several hundred people. The culmination of Tsar's paranoia was the murder of his only competent son, whom Ivan the Terrible stabbed to death with his own hands. That hastened the end of the Ryurikovichi dynasty.
The Times of Troubles
After the death of Ivan the Terrible in 1584 his retarded son Fedor became Tsar but the actual ruler was Boris Godunov (1598-1605) who mounted the throne after childless Fedor's death in 1598. Godunov carried on rather successful foreign policy; during his reign new lands joined Russia, several military campaigns against Crimean Tatars were crowned with success; the patriarchate was instituted in Russia demonstrating the independence and maturity of the state; Moscow and other boundary towns were fortified. But Boris Godunov missed the most important thing ? people's love. He was accused of killing Ivan the Terrible's youngest son Dmitry and seizing power illegally. His sin was said to be the reason of horrible natural calamities, which caused failure of crops and famine in the country. Several peasant risings flared up and were ruthlessly suppressed; that only enhanced hatred for Boris Godunov.
Finally a pretender to the throne appeared claiming to be Ivan the Terrible's dead son Dmitry. He sought support from Poland, which was always at daggers drawn with Russia, and marched on Moscow with a big army (the Poles cleverly used unstable situation to conquer Russia). Godunov escaped execution as he suddenly died himself in 1605, but his son and wife were murdered and "False Dmitry" was proclaimed Tsar. Not for a long time though. He was killed by the boyars (the highest class Russian nobles) and replaced by boyar Vasiliy Shujsky. Shujsky in his turn had to deal with "False Dimitry No 2" and his Polish "patrons".
The Poles finally reached Moscow in 1610; Shujsky was then deposed. In addition to that the Swedes got active in the North capturing Novgorod. And only then, in those devastating circumstances Prince Pozharsky and his compatriot Kozma Minin managed to awaken the spirit of patriotism in Russians and to expel the Poles in 1612. This period of deposed tsars, false pretenders to the throne, wars and disarray is known as "the Time of Troubles".
42.Charities::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Charities
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
E-mail: info@afew.org
Web: www.afew.org
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
E-mail: e.newman@amur.org.uk
Web: www.amur.org.uk
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.
E-mail: actionarc@yahoo.co.uk
Web: www.actionarc.com
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
E-mail: cafrussia@cafrussia.ru
Web: www.cafrussia.ru
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
E-mail: info@ddfund.ru
Web: www.ddfund.ru
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
E-mail: downskteup@downsideup.org
Web: www.downsideup.org
Greenpeace
Address: Leningradsky prosp., 26, korp. 1
Metro: Belorusskaya
Tel: 988-7460
E-mail: info@greenpeace.ru
Web: www.greenpeace.ru
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
E-mail: guidedogs@guidedogs.ru
Web: www.guidedogs.ru
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
E-mail: info@hopeww.ru
Web: www.hopeww.ru
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
E-mail: info@ifaw.org
Web: www.ifaw.ru
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.
E-mail: iwcmoscow@yahoo.com
Web: www.iwcmoscow.ru
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.
E-mail: Tatiana@kidsave.org
Web: www.kidsave.org
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
E-mail: kitezh@kaluga.ru
Web: www.kitezh.org
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
E-mail: mariaschildren@yandex.ru
Web: www.mariaschildren.ru
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
E-mail: metis2001@mail.ru
Web: www.fundmetis.narod.ru
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
E-mail: erics@miramed.org
Web: www.miramedinstitute.org
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
E-mail: info@moscowanimals.org
Web: www.moscowanimals.org
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
E-mail: mpchaplaincy@gmail.com
Web: www.mpcrussia.org
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
E-mail: mail@nastenka.ru
Web: www.nastenka.ru
"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
E-Mail: nan@nan.ru
Web: www.nan.ru
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
E-mail: irina.tulyakova@operationsmile.org
Web: www.operationsmile.org.ru
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
E-mail: rcwsmoscow@gmail.com
Web: www.rcws.org
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
E-mail: roof@roofnet.org
Web: www.roofnet.org

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
E-mail: tcf@comtv.ru
Web: www.charity-tcf.ru
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
E-mail: rboomkki@mail.ru
Web: www.hippotherapy.ru
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
E-mail: info@unitedway.ru
Web: www.unitedway.ru

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
E-mail: russia@wwf.ru
Web: www.wwf.ru
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.
43.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Tverskaya::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Tverskaya
Moscow's main artery and the most luxurious area during the Russian Empire epoch. Tverskaya Street has long been considered a benchmark for luxury and prestige. In the 14th century, it was a trade road from the Kremlin to Tver - one of the most important and influential cities at that time. The first name of the street was Tsarskaya ("Tsar's"), as already by the 17th century it became the main street of the Russian capital. Of course, central and extremely prestigious location attracted the highest class of nobility; Tverskaya of the 18th century was the street of sumptuous palaces and estates built by Catherine the Great's grandees. The 19th century added the firm spirit of commerce to the charming atmosphere of aristocracy: various luxury shops, confectioneries, boutiques, fashionable hotels and restaurants spread along Tverskaya.
Many innovations in Moscow started from Tverskaya street, though not all of them were beneficial to the ancient capital and its culture. It was completely reconstructed in the 1930s. In 1932, the street was named after Maxim Gorky, a proletarian writer. This was a present from the Stalin government made during the writer's lifetime.
Soon, Tverskaya street obtained a tragic fate; it was the first street reconstructed according to the infamous master plan of the socialist reconstruction of Moscow. Subsequently, it lost not only its original name, but its personality. This was the result of Lazar Moiseyevich Kaganovich's (a powerful "architect of socialism") vision. Some erections were built up a little, smartly moved deeper into the courtyards, and, if necessary, even carefully rotated. But nevertheless, many buildings were simply demolished (not a single church survived on Tverskaya), and the appearance of the street completely changed: it became wide and airy, but too straight and boring, built up with typical grey houses.
It is from Tverskaya street that capitalism began to encroach on Russia. It is here near the site of the National Hotel that the first "fartsovshiki" (illegal street vendors) started their risky business of swapping Russian matryoskha dolls for US-made jeans, and it is here that dollars were traded for rubles under the table.
A certain "face of the city", now it brilliantly reflects the mixed and controversial "soul" of 21st-century Moscow, full of modern western innovations and still firmly basing on the ancient roots.
Tverskaya has a limited number of residential buildings; therefore, the prices for living here are very high.
The modern Tverskaya remains the most important commercial, business and cultural street of the capital, with the most expensive and luxurious hotels being located here: the Ritz-Carlton, the Marriott, the Sheraton, etc. At the corner of Mokhovaya and Tverskaya one can see "National" hotel, one of the best examples of Russian Art Nouveau. Designed and built in 1903 by A. Ivanov, it is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Russia. In 1918 the hotel was for some years turned into "Prime House of Soviets" and permanently hosted the members of the Bolshevik Government, including Lenin who lived in number 107.
State Duma (Parliament) stays right opposite "National", at the corner of Tverskaya and Okhotny Ryad. Former building of the Soviet Ministry of Labour and Defence, it provides a brilliant example of transfer from Constructivism to the Soviet neoclassic style. Its characteristic feature is abandonment of any decoration, because the edifice should be beautiful of its own accord.
Another sumptuous building on Tverskaya, Moscow Central Telegraph (architect I. Rerberg), possesses the status of an architectural monument and historical - Revolution of 1917 in Moscow started by taking the Central telegraph.
The building No 9 on Tverskaya designed by the architect Zhukov is faced with granite captured from the Germans in December 1941. The Fascists had brought the granite to Moscow from Finland to erect a monument to their supposed victory in the centre of Russian capital. Then they, already as prisoners of war, faced the building with that granite themselves.
The Moscow City Administration was built in 1770 by Matvey Kozakov, famous master of Moscow Classicism. Former residence of Moscow governor-generals, after the revolution it housed the Moscow Council (Soviet). During the reconstruction of 1935 the building was moved 13 meters back and two more stores were added.
In front of the City Administration there is Tverskaya square with a monument to Prince Yury Dolgoruky, which has become a symbol of Moscow. The square was formerly called Skobelevskaya due to the monument to General Skobelev, a hero of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. In 1918 before the May Day parade the "White General" was removed and the pedestal was turned into a platform. Soon Skobelev's place was occupied by the monument to Constitution (a woman statue, a kind of Soviet "Statue of Freedom") and Skobelevskaya square became Soviet square. The bronze monument to Yury Dolgoruky appeared here in 1954 in honour of Moscow 800th anniversary; in 1990s the square was renamed back to Tverskaya.
The house No 14 was also created by Matvey Kozakov. The "Palace on Tverskya" belonged to Zinaida Volkonskaya, a beautiful and intelligent woman, who established a very popular literature salon here. In 1898 powerful merchant Grigory Eliseyev bought the house, reconstructed and opened as "Eliseyev's Store and Wine Cellar of Russian and Imported Wines." Very soon the shop was nearly closed down for illegal sale of wine: the distance between the entrance to the wine cellar and the Church of St. Dmitry Solunsky (now non-existent) did not comply with the legal minimum. It needed one night to separate the wine cellar off the shop and make a new entrance from Kozitsky lane. In 1917 Eliseev emigrated from Russia and the shop was expropriated by Sovets ("nationalized") and renamed. But the people still called it Eliseyevsky through habit and came here just to admire the famous interior. Since the fall of the Soviet Union the Eliseyevsky store has been officially given its name back.
One of the oldest buildings on Tverskaya is a luxurious classicistic one behind the fence with lions. Built in late 18th century, this mansion of earls Kheraskov and Razumovsky from 1831 to 1917 housed the Moscow English club, and now the State Museum of Contemporary History of Russia is located here.
Triumphal Square
Triumphal square is named after the Triumphal Gate constructed in 1721. Peter the Great entered the capital through it after his victory in North War. Hereafter there were constructed few more wooden Triumphal arches, and all of them had burnt. And the only remained arch was built at the Tverskaya Zastava square; later it was moved to a new place near the museum of Borodino battle. Now the only triumph of this square is the theatres located here. One of them is the Tchaikovsky Concert hall. Formerly Meyerhold's theatre was placed here, but in 1938 Meyerhold was arrested, the theatre was closed and the building was given to the Moscow Philharmonic. The Theatre of Satire is located at the building of the former Circus.
Lanes around Tverskaya
While you may find Tverskaya itself too busy and too noisy, there are a number of pretty lanes with beautiful old apartment buildings and small gardens that are popular with expatriate.
Kamergersky
Kamergersky lane has lately become a pedestrian area, and it has a real chance to be included into the Guinness' Book of Records as a shortest pedestrian area in the world. House No 3 is now occupied by Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre (MKhAT). The theatre traces its history since 1882, when the modern building of the theatre, former mansion of Prince P.I. Odoevsky and S.A. Rimsky-Korsakov, housed Russian Drama Theatre. In 1885 Savva Mamontov's Private Russian Opera made its debut here. In 1902 another Savva, now Morozov, paid for reconstruction of the theatre after Fyodor Shekhtel's project, and in 1902 MKhAT opened its doors for theatre-lovers.
Brusov
Brusov lane is remarkable for its red and white Church of the Resurrection of Slovushchy on Uspensky Vrazhek, which was built in the first half of the 17th century. This church is one of the few ones not closed during the Soviet period; it has retained its original interiors.
Stoleshnikov
Stoleshnikov lane leads from Tverskaya to Bolshaya Dmitrovka and then continues as a pedestrian lane to Petrovka. As many other streets in Moscow, it is named after the profession of the people who used to live here. "Stoleshniki", who occupied this area in the 16th-17th centuries, made table-cloths for the Royal Court ("stol" in Russian stands for "table"). House No 9 is famous for its outstanding dweller - "the first Moscow digger", Vladimir Gilarovsky. Gifted historian and talented writer, he was affectionately known and beloved by Muscovites. Here he was visited by Tolstoy, Gorky, Chekhov, Bunin, Mayakovsky.
44.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 www.usynovite.ru with detailed information on the adoption process and information on thousands of children in orphanages across the country that are up for adoption.
Education
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.
Books
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.
Shopping
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
86
- Russia
USA
UK
Europe 13
7.5
n/a
24
45.Communication & Postal Services::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Communication & Postal Services
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.
COMMUNICATION
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.
46.Soviet Union (1920-50s)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
In December 1922 the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialistic Republics was proclaimed; Moscow became capital of the new state. Within a very short time the Bolsheviks had shown that they cared about democracy and civil rights as much as the tsar, ignoring the existing Constitution, establishing the dictatorship of the proletariat (in fact the dictatorship of the Communist Party), and setting up one of the most frightening and blood-thirsty secret services in the world history, the CheKa (the ancestor of KGB).
The first person to govern the Soviet Union was Vladimir Lenin. Being a charismatic speaker, he managed to captivate millions of souls with his obsessive communistic ideas. For many decades Lenin was almost God to Russians; the entire nation went crazy: songs were written about Lenin, thousands of monuments to him were erected all over the country and icons were replaced with Lenin's portraits.
After Lenin's death in 1924, Iosif Stalin took his position as General Secretary of the Communist party. A real paranoiac and sadist, Stalin gradually removed all his enemies and possible rivals. Most of his comrades-in-arms ended up in prisons, labour camps or were simply executed. Several waves of purges brought millions of innocent people to labour camps, where most of them died of inhuman treatment and starvation.
Meanwhile in the countryside the collectivisation of agriculture began. Peasants were obliged to give up their land and property to collective farms and work for them for a small salary or even for no salary. People were forced to give up all corn that they had; that caused famine in 1931-32, when more than 10 million starved to death.
Stalin's regime encouraged denunciation and spying. People were afraid to speak in their own houses, always waiting for a neighbour to overhear something and tell the CheKa. Secret agents could come in the night and take anyone with them without explanation; people arrested by the CheKa were mourned as murdered victims.
The Great Patriotic War (1941-1945)
Stalin put too much into his dirty business dismissing more than three quarters of army officers. The Great Dictator got the chance to regret it when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. In 1939 a secret Non-Aggression Pact was signed by Germany and the Soviet Union therefore the Soviets were caught by surprise by the summer invasion. While the country tried to summon up its powers, the Germans advanced rapidly and by December of 1941 they were already near Moscow. But Hitler, just as Napoleon 130 years before, underestimated the harshness of Moscow winter and outstanding courage of Russian soldiers. After a famous battle, partly ruined, Moscow escaped destruction. So did Leningrad (former St.Petersburg) but it paid a horrible price: the city was besieged for more than 900 days; almost no food supplies were left and people were dying of hunger in the streets. More than two thirds of city's population never saw the end of the siege.
In 1943 after the battle of Stalingrad it was already clear that the victory of the Soviet Union was only a matter of time. In 1945 victorious Soviet Army occupied Berlin and on May 8 Germany signed capitulation. The war of 1941-1945, which caused death of more than 20 million Russian people, is known in the history of Russia as the Great Patriotic War.
But while the whole world celebrated the victory over the Nazis, Stalin got the wheel of repressions going again, as he wanted to get rid of those who had seen what it was like in so called capitalistic world. The terror lasted until his death in 1953.
These new times brought new major changes to Moscow architecture: in 1935 the General plan of the Moscow reconstruction was accepted. Its aim was to change the appearance of Moscow according to the new political doctrine. At the same time tens of churches and cathedrals were being destroyed; new times brought new religion: the belief in Soviet "bright future".
47.National Holidays & Celebrations::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Russian Holidays
January 1-8: New Year holidays
January 7: Russian Orthodox Christmas
February 23: Defenders of the Fatherland Day
March 8: International Women's Day
May 1: Holiday of Spring and Labour
May 9: Victory Day
June 12: Day of Russia
November 4: National Unity Day
Non-Working Days in 2020
New Year and Christmas holidays: January 1-8.
Defenders of the Fatherland Day: February 22-24.
International Women's Day: March 7-9.
Holiday of Spring and Labour: May 1-5.

Victory Day: May 9-11.
Day of Russia: June 12-14.
Russians love to celebrate and take most of their national holidays very seriously. New Year is the most widely celebrated holiday, followed by Orthodox Easter (which is not an official holiday), and Orthodox Christmas. Remember, though, that over 100 ethnic groups live on the territory of the Russian Federation and that each of them has their own colourful holidays and celebrations. Western holiday and festivals, such as Valentine's Day and Halloween are also gaining popularity in Russia, although they are not marked by days off work. When National Holidays fall over weekend dates, one or more adjacent weekdays will usually be declared as Public Holiday(s) - but the decision on which days is often not announced until a month beforehand. Shops and supermarkets don't usually observe any National Holidays except New Year's Eve, however.
NATIONAL HOLIDAYS
New Year
The biggest Russian holiday is New Year and is celebrated on the night of December 31st to January 1st. Many Russians have what foreigners usually call a "Christmas tree" for New Year (either a real tree or an artificial). The tree is called a "yolka" in Russian. You may buy trees outside of metro stations at a so-called Christmas tree bazaar, at IKEA (natural fur tree), the Detsky Mir shopping center and many other places across town. At midnight, the President's New Year speech is broadcast on all national TV channels, preceded by lot of musical shows and followed by show-biz variety programming until morning. Most Russians exchange gifts on New Year's Eve. This means that you will be purchasing New Year's gifts for your Russian friends - instead of Christmas gifts. Celebrations on the night of December 31st continue until the early morning of January 1st. January 3rd, 4th and 5th are public/bank holidays. In combination with January 1st and 2nd and January 7th, Russia enjoys an entire holiday week at the start of the New Year.
As this holiday is children's favourite, special shows for children called "yolki" are organized throughout town in the weeks around December 31st. On New Year's Eve, some parents hire a Grandfather Frost or "Ded Moroz" and his assistant Snow-Maiden or "Snegurochka" to visit their homes to deliver previously purchased gifts to the children. The way this usually works is that Snegurochka arrives first, preparing the children for the arrival of Ded Moroz. The children then call for Ded Moroz, who arrives with a bag full of gifts. The children only get their gifts after singing a song or reciting a poem for Ded Moroz or after solving one of his riddles. If you want to order such a service for your children, make sure to place your order in advance.
Normal service is suspended in most restaurants and cafes on the evening of 31st December, and you can only get a table that evening by pre-booking (often several weeks before) and by pre-buying a "ticket" for their New Year's Eve programme - which includes a multi-course meal (usually a set menu), drinks and live entertainment. The prices often bear no resemblance to the usual prices on any other day of the year, but there is intense demand nonetheless - book ahead or go hungry. Those not inclined to spend their New Year's Eve this way often choose to gather in the city's larger open public spaces - Red Square, Poklannaya Gora, etc. - and celebrate in impromptu street parties - these can often be packed too, and in recent years police have limited crowds in Red Square in the interests of public safety, so go early.
Russian Orthodox Christmas
January 7th is Russian Orthodox Christmas. After Easter this is the biggest Christian religious holiday. It is traditionally celebrated at home - families and friends will gather on the evening of 6th January, to mark the festival's arrival at midnight.
Defenders of the Fatherland Day
February 23rd is non-official Men's Day. This public holiday is officially called "Defenders of the Fatherland Day". All men in Russia are liable for call-up to military service, so they all consider themselves celebrities to a certain extent. On this day women usually give men small gifts.
International Women's Day
International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8th. In 1910, German socialist Klara Zetkin proposed an International Women's Day. Instead of men treating women nicely, the women went on strike and marched through the streets. On March 8th 1917 Klara Zetkin and her Russian counterpart Alexandra Kollontai, held a women's strike "for bread and peace" in St. Petersburg. This was soon followed by a general strike that triggered the March Revolution which brought down Tsar Nikolai II. Today the holiday has lost its political significance and has become popular for other reasons. Men are supposed to give women gifts on March 8th. They are also supposed to do all the housework on this day - at least in theory. Gift-giving to female colleagues and co-workers is considered largely obligatory.
May Day - Holiday of Spring and Labour
May 1st is the Holiday of Spring and Labour. During Soviet times, huge demonstrations were staged on this day, and everyone was obliged to show their loyalty to the state. (It's widely, but wrongly, thought that May Day in Russia is the day with the big parades, but in fact these come on May 9th - see below).
Victory Day
May 9th is Victory Day. This is the day on which Nazi Germany capitulated in 1945 after the war with the Soviet Union and other countries. A minute of silence is announced on Central TV in memory of the deceased at 21:00 and fireworks are held thereafter. Large May Day parades are held each year, but, for most part, they are not open to the public - instead grandstand places are by VIP invitation. The public can then watch the Parade as it leads away through the city. Usually the entire city center in Moscow is closed to traffic. The best place for non-VIPs to view the Moscow Parade is the section of Tverskaya nearest to Red Square - go early to grab a place. The holiday continues all day with open-air music, street events, and culminates in an enormous firework display, usually at 22:00. (In the rest of Europe, this day is usually called "V-E Day"; "Victory in Europe Day" and is marked on May 8th. Russia celebrates on May 9th because due to the time-difference between Moscow and Berlin, the late-night announcement occurred in the early hours of May 9th by local time in Moscow. The USSR remained engaged in military conflict after May 9th 1945, playing a crucial role against Japan - but Russian military historians name the subsequent hostilities "The Eastern War", and consider that WW2 ended on May 9th for the Soviet Forces.) In contrast the sombre Ceremonies of Rememberance in Western Europe, Russia celebrates May 9th as a huge victory and celebration - this may come as a surprise to foreigners. The Parade crowd can usually be heard chanting "spa-see-bo!" ("thank you!") to the ranks of veterans as they pass.
"The May Holidays"
The fortunate proximity of the May 1st and May 9th holidays above - especially if they fall luckily over weekends - offers many Russians the chance to take an entire week off work whilst only using 1-2 of their days of annual holiday allowance - and over a week usually associated with nice spring weather. This prompts a huge burst of vacationing both in Russia and abroad, and travel prices over this week can be extortionately more expensive than in the adjacent weeks - flights to popular destinations will usually sell out long in advance. Getting any kind of paperwork processed in a Govt organisation over this period usually comes to a dismal standstill.
Day of Russia
June 12th is Day of Russia, also referred to as Independence Day. This became an official holiday in 1994. No particular traditions or festivals are associated with this day.
National Unity Day
November 4th is National Unity Day. This new holiday was introduced in 2005. It replaces the Day of Accord and Reconciliation formerly called the Day of the October Revolution, which was traditionally celebrated on November 7th.
CELEBRATIONS WHICH ARE NOT DAYS OFF
City Days
Every city in Russia has its own City Day, usually celebrated on a date associated with some happy occasion for the city in question - each city has the right to choose its own date. There is usually some kind of parade, open-air music and merry-making, and a firework display after dusk. Some cities have unusual or unique events linked to the date in question - Moscow, for example, has a recreation of the Battle of Borodino, a turning-point in the war against Napoleon, whilst St. Petersburg has a naval display.
"Catholic Christmas"
Although much of the rest of the world is celebrating Christmas on 25th December, the Russian Church calendar dates Christmas as 7th January (see above, "Orthodox Christmas"). Russians name 25th December as "Catholic Christmas" (even though other faiths are also celebrating too) but it is not a public holiday in Russia. Believers often go to their own church services, and these can be the centre of some expat social life too. Bear in mind that branch offices of non-Russian companies (including airlines) may close in any case on 25th -26th December, or operate an emergencies-only service. Since many Russians choose to go away for the New Year holiday, the 25th-26th December closure of foreign Consulates for Christmas adds to the difficulty of getting visas for the great New Year getaway for some. Some expats feel somewhat deflated that 99% of Russia doesn't even realize that 25th December is a major holiday elsewhere - you may want to make your own plans, and nightspots and restaurants catering to foreigners will often have parties anyhow. The good news is that getting a table and paying the regular prices are no problem at all on December 25th, which is "just another working day" in Russia.
Old New Year
The Old New Year is celebrated by many on January 13th. Before the revolution of February 1918, Russians used a different calendar. The difference between the Julian (European) calendar was 13 days. After the Soviet government adopted the Gregorian calendar, Russians started to celebrate many holidays twice: once according to the old style, but with many still choosing to celebrate on the day when the holiday would have fallen prior to the Calendar Reform... the "old" New Year.
Maslenitsa (Whitsun)
It is a traditional Russian spring celebration also referred to as "Pancake Week" or "Butter week". It comes right before the seven-week Orthodox Lent. The word "maslenitsa" refers to the Russian word "maslo" meaning "butter". It refers to the fact that numerous different foods, including butter, cream and other fats, had to be used-up before the start of the seven-week Orthodox Lenten Fast. Many Russians - not only believers - will observe this Fast, and eat an entirely vegan diet - most cafes will offer an alternative Lenten Menu. Originally a pagan holiday celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring, pancakes were baked as a form of worship of the life-giving sun. Today this colourful celebration is once again gaining popularity, and numerous celebrations are held during this week.
Easter
Right after Maslenitsa comes the seven-week Lent leading right up to Easter. Orthodox Russians who take this fasting period very seriously will not consume any milk, eggs, or meat, with fish being eaten only on special occasions. Believers attend a very long and elaborate midnight church service that starts on the evening before Easter Sunday. The traditional greeting, if translated from Russian, says "Christ had risen from the dead/is alive". The reply to this is always "He has truly risen from the dead/is truly alive." Special round-shaped sweet Easter cakes are baked. Around Easter these cakes (called "kulich") are on sale in nearly every bakery and supermarket bread section. Eggs are coloured, with a red egg being considered the symbol of Easter. The red colour is achieved boiling the eggs with beets. To colour eggs yellow, boil them in onion husks.
April Fool's Day
April 1st is Fool's Day, literally meaning Day of Laughter. This is a day of fun and laughter but not a public holiday. People tell jokes to each other and newspapers and TV publish/run funny stories and jokes. The motto of this day is "Don't trust anyone on April 1st".
48.Shopping::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Shopping
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.
Sweets
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.
Alcohol
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.
49.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
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.
Ilyinka
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.
Varvarka
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
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.
Maroseika
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.
Solyanka
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.
Taganka
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".
50.Palace Revolutions and Catherine the Great (18th Century)::The History of Moscow::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Palace Revolutions

From the death of Peter the Great to the beginning of Catherine the Great's reign, Moscow throne was occupied by six different monarchs who came to power after dirty palace intrigues and palace revolutions. Two of them - Ivan Antonovich and Peter III - were deposed by force and assassinated. This period was the time of political instability, when the country was mostly ruled by women and minors (so-called "The Petticoat Period"). They all thought little of country's prosperity, paying attention to balls, luxury and fun; although that was good for Russian architecture: many palaces were built and some interesting architectural tendencies were introduced. That concerned mostly St.Petersburg as monarchs preferred to live in this Europeanized city. Only Elizabeth the First (1741-1761), daughter of Peter the Great, decided to live in Moscow periodically, presenting the former capital with a flurry of new buildings. This fun-loving empress is also the one to thank for the foundation of Moscow State University in 1755, the first University in Russia. She was guided by Russia's 18th-century Renaissance man Mikhail Lomonosov, the poet and the scientist in one.
Catherine the Great

In 1762 the wife of Peter III, a German princess, planned a conspiracy, as a result of which her husband was dethroned and killed. Under the name of Catherine II she proved herself as an energetic and intelligent leader. She was one of the most educated monarchs of her time, art and literature lover, even Voltaire and Didro were among her correspondents. Catherine the Great was known to share views of the Enlightenment ideologists, but in fact she was an adherent of Absolutism, Russia under Catherine the Great became a perfect example of an absolute monarchy. Catherine aimed to continue the centralization of power using rough methods, she liquidated self-government in the Ukraine, suppressed many peasant rebellions (Pugachev's Rebellion for example), made territorial gains at the expense of Turkey and Poland. At the same time she carried out a progressive reform of education in Russia, reform of Russia's legal system and some other innovations.
51.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Zamoskvorechiye::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Zamoskvorechiye
The area in the city centre beyond the Moscow River - this should be the shortest definition of this area. Zamoskvorechiye (literally it really means "beyond the Moscow River") with its peculiar spirit of old Moscow outskirts stands apart from other Moscow districts. For a long time this area had not been a prestigious one, as every spring it was vastly overflowed. In the 16-17th centuries Zamoskvorechiye was mostly occupied by artisans and craftsmen, who lived in small separate settlements - the so-called "slobody". Each sloboda took its name from the main business of its inhabitants: for example, Sadovaya ("Garden" where gardeners lived), Ovchinnaya ("Sheepskin"), and so on. The names of now non-existent slobodas gave the names to contemporary streets and lanes: Ovchinnikovsky lane, Kosachiy ("Cossack") lane and others.
Zamoskvorechiye began to change rapidly in the late 18th century, when Vodootvodny ("Drainage") channel was constructed. Since that merchants began to build their mansions here; for a very short time they managed to set up quite a new district with a peculiar patriarchal spirit. Those of nobles who preferred solitude to sumptuous balls or those who had no money to live in the centre also settled here; for example, young Lev Tolstoy used to live on Pyatnitskaya street.
This area is composed of buildings of different types, both old and modern. There are also a lot of museums and churches in the area. Thanks to the flat topography and low building height, the Kremlin hill is clearly visible to the southern outskirts of the city. With a sharp bend of the river, from the coastal hills to the South-West and South-East of the Kremlin, it offers magnificent views. The significant development that took place in this area up until 1917 contributed significantly to the erection of many a building in the area. After 1917, Zamoskvorechiye was very densely populated; all the old mansions and apartment houses were turned into communal apartments. Nationalized by the Soviet power, Zamoskvorechiye always had the glory of the industrial district. In the last decade of the 20th century extensive work on the restoration and reconstruction of the Zamoskvorechiye was done, with the aim of preserving and revitalizing the architectural appearance of the area.
Now many Russian banks have their headquarters here and there are some great new residential buildings in this area. A number of cultural attractions are located here, including the world-famous Tretyakov Gallery.
The Embankment of Moscow River
In 1783, when the spring tide caused damage to Bolshoi Kamenny bridge ("Great Stone bridge"), Moscow River was drawn aside its bed to the specially constructed channel to repair the piers of the bridge. This event gave birth to one of the most picturesque sites of Zamoskvorechiye - the island between Moscow River and Vodootvodny channel.
Crossing Moscow River via Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge ("Great Moscow River bridge"), we come to Bolotnaya ("Swamp") street. To the left there is Balchug street; its name comes from the Tatar "balchuk", which stands for "mud". It was really muddy here till Vodootvodny channel drained the surrounding swamps.
The popularity of this place rose steeply in 1552, when under Ivan the Terrible the first "kabak" (Russian equivalent of what we now call "pub") in Moscow was opened here. "Kabak" also functioned as a pawn-shop, and alcohol-lovers here had a unique opportunity to drink away not only their money but even clothes.
Times passed, the street became dryer and, as a result, much more prestigious. In 1898 sumptuous Balchug Hotel was built here to become the main site of contemporary Balchug street.
Sophiiskaya embankment lies between two bridges: Bolshoi Kamenny and Bolshoi Moskvoretsky; it got its name from the Church of St. Sophia dated late 17th century. Placed right opposite the Kremlin, it provides a brilliant view of its churches and towers.
Bolotnaya square (literally "swampy square") earlier was called simply Boloto ("Swamp") due to the regular floods occurring here. In winter it used to be covered with ice; in the 16-17th centuries fisticuffs were held here. Fisticuffs were a very special affair of pre-revolutionary Russia: neither a sport affair, nor they were aimed to harm anyone. It was simply a way to relieve the stress and "relax" for the mighty Russian men. Sometimes even tsars came to Boloto to observe the daring fighters. In the 17th century the square was drained; here in 1775 Yemelian Pugachev, the head of anti-tsarist rebellion, was executed. Now the best sight of the square is the monument to Repin, the famous Russian artist.
Across the road, on Serafimovicha street, there is more than huge house No 2, designed in 1928 by Boris Iofan. It consists of several residential parts (totally 24 porches with 5050 flats), also houses food store, Estrada Theatre and Udarnik Cinema. Here lived Members of Soviet Government, marshals, admirals and other members of the Soviet elite. It is hard to say whether they were happy to live here: all flats were furnished with absolutely identical state furniture; all the phones were tapped. 1930s was the time of troubles for this house: most of its inhabitants became victims of Stalinist repressions. The walls of this house carry more than 20 memorial plaques: more than anywhere in Moscow.
"House on Embankment", as Yury Trifonov called house No 2 in his book of the same name, still has many secrets. For example, porch No 11 had been always closed and it is known that there is not a single flat in it. The purpose of this porch remains a thrilling mystery.
Right near the "House on Embankment" the Chambers of Averiky Kirillov look tiny and not so impressive; it is a rather beautiful Old-Russian Style building though it also has its bloody history: in the 16th century Maluta Skuratov, the most dreadful executioner Russia ever knew, lived here. In the 20th century large underground rooms with various torture devices were found nearby; historians believe that they also belonged to Skuratov. Near the chambers there is the Church of St. Nicolas the Miracle Worker on Bersenevskaya embankment built in the same style with the chambers.
Bolshaya Ordynka
It was long ago, in the 14th century, when Prince Ivan Kalita began to unite the principalities of former Kievian Rus, conquered by Mongols, under his dominion. He got a right to gather the tribute himself, not accompanied by Mongol tribute-collectors. That time the road to South appeared to convey the gathered goods to Golden Horde ("orda" in Russian).
Now only the name Ordynka reminds us of those severe times when this street was the main road to the Mongol capital. Poorly settled in medieval times, in the 17th-19th centuries it was rapidly occupied by rich merchants and nobles, who didn't want or had no money to live on the other side of Moscow River.
The first remarkable sight on the street is the Church of Resurrection in Kadashi. Five green onion domes of this Baroque building are visible from all over the neighbourhood. Presumably designed by Sergey Turchaninov in 1678, it presents a very special style of church building, rarely seen in Moscow and more widely presented in Yaroslavl and Nizhny Novgorod. Airiness and grace of the church are related with Western Gothic, although here this spirit is created by quite different technique. This church, along with neighbouring Kadashevskaya bell tower of the same style, was paid for by rich merchants Kondraty and Longin Dobryniny who lived somewhere nearby. Now the building houses All-Russian art and restoration centre.
Church of the Consolation of all Sorrows was paid for by Dolgovy, another rich merchant family, who lived in the opposite Neo-Classical mansion dated 1770. Dolgov's son-in-law, architect Vasily Bazhenov, designed the belfry and the church itself in 1787; later, in 1833, it was reconstructed in Empire style by Osip Bove, a chief architect of Moscow reconstruction after the fire of 1812. Yellow round church surprises with its rather "civil" architecture: its facade brilliantly suites any noble's mansion. The belfry and refectory remained unchanged since the late 18th century: in Soviet time it was under the patronage of Tretyakov Gallery, and its staff did their best to preserve the church.
Passing through Bolshoi Tolmachevky lane you will come to Tretyakov Gallery. The gallery was gifted to Moscow and Muscovites by wealthy merchant Pavel Tretyakov; it still remains the largest collection of Russian art. Close to the gallery stands the Church of St. Nikolay in Tolmachi, where Pavel Tretyakov's funeral service was held.
The house No 34 hosts several buildings of Marfo-Mariinskaya Cloister. The main sight here is the Church of the Intercession of the Mother of God. It looks extremely old and reminds medieval churches with their mighty walls and black domes. In fact it was built in 1908 by Alexey Shchusev.
The church was donated by the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fedorovna, sister of Empress Alexandra. After her husband was assassinated on the Senatskaya square of the Kremlin in 1905, she became abbess of Marfo-Mariinskaya Cloister. She spent all her life and money for charity and had an indisputable authority over all the Muscovites. But Bolsheviks didn't take it into consideration: in 1918 she was murdered. Along with many other relatives of tsar's family, Elizaveta Fedorovna was blindfolded, thrown into a mine and bombarded with grenades. In 1992 she was canonized by Russian Orthodox Church.
Malaya Ordynka
The unpretentious wooden house on Malaya Ordynka street hosts the Museum of Ostrovsky. Nikolay Ostrovsky, the famous Russian playwright, was born here in 1823. As he was the first writer to depict a unique spirit of this region beyond the Moscow River, he was often called "Columbus of Zamoskvorechiye".
Right opposite the Museum of Ostrovsky there is the Church of St. Nikolay in Pyzhy. It was constructed in 1670-1672 for Streltsy regiment headed by Bogdan Pyzhov; Streltsy themselves provided funds for construction. The church is lavishly decorated and the domes are covered with pure silver. The church's slender bell tower is one of the most beautiful ones in the city.
Pyatnitskaya
Pyatnitskaya street appeared in the early 16th century, when the Kremlin was enlarged and a new bridge over Moscow River was built. Part of the old road to Ryazan, Pyatnitskaya was named after the Church of Paraskeva Pyatnitsa, which was formerly located at the place of contemporary hall of "Novokuznetskaya" metro station.
The Church of Ioann Predtecha pod Borom (literally "John the Baptist under the Pine Forest") at the corner of Pyatnitskaya street and Chernigovsky lane is the oldest building on the street. It was built by Aleviz Fryazin (his full name is Alvizo Lamberty da Montagniaco) in 1514. The name of this Italian architect is mentioned in chronicles extremely often: for example, only in 1514 he managed to erect about fifteen various buildings: this pretends to an absolute record in architecture.
Across the Chernigovsky lane there are two more attractive buildings: the Church of Mikhail and Fedor Chernigovskiye and 17th-century chambers. The Church of St. Clement the Pope, designed is an unusual example of the so-called "Elizabethan" baroque style. This five-domed red church was built in 1774 in honour of Elizabeth Petrovna's enthronement by Bestuzhev-Rumin, Russian chancellor and one of tsarina's favourites.
52.Airports::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
GENERAL NOTES ON DOMESTIC FLIGHTS WITHIN RUSSIA
1) Your baggage limit is strictly imposed at 20kg and there is no discretionary limit. You will be charged Excess Baggage for even 1kg above your limit, and this will be collected in the most bureaucratic, time consuming way imaginable. It is strongly suggested that you try not to travel with more than your baggage limit if you want to avoid wasting time and_money.
2) Some domestic flights still have Unreserved Seating, which often results in pushing-and-shoving battles to get onto the plane first. You may have to participate in order to get your chosen seat.
3) You MUST KEEP YOUR BAGGAGE RECEIPT. You will only be allowed to reclaim your checked baggage in your destination if you can show the baggage receipt (usually printed on a piece of card) that you were given at Check-In.
4) Most domestic flights are non-smoking. Very few have any entertainment (music, film etc) during the flight- even on very long trips. It's wise to bring your own book, CD player, etc.
5) Many flights to distant or less-visited destinations now operate as "hub-and-spoke" from Moscow - you will change planes in another city en-route, very often Novosibirsk (Sibir' Airlines) or Krasnoyarsk. Your baggage must be reclaimed and re-checked at the transit airport, as it will not be tagged through to your end-destination. Some airline staff participate in a scam to overcharge you on baggage, by claiming that your checked baggage allowance is 15kg inclusive of your carry-on bag. This is an on-going problem that seems to operate with the collusion of the airline's management (particularly at Krasnoyarsk airport), and there is almost no way to avoid it, although a VERY severe argument and a lot of shouting has been known to work. In fact throughout Russia's provincial airports foreigners are seen as an "easy target" for over-charging on fake accusations of "excess" baggage, and you should assume that they will attempt to over-charge you, so prepare for this situation.
6) Forget any notion you had that you are a "customer". On Russian domestic flights, passengers - along with their views and their custom - are seen as slightly less important than hunks of meat, and are treated very much the same way, despite the high price charged for tickets.
Listed below are the main air terminals located in Moscow, along with the telephone numbers of their respective information desks and public transportation routes to each terminal.
53.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.
RESIDENCE PERMITS
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.
54.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.
www.moscowpolo.com – the web site of Moscow Polo Club.
EVENT PROGRAM
SNOW ARENA POLO WORLD CUP MOSCOW
Date: Saturday 28th and Sunday the 29th of February 2004
12:00-16:00
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
55.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.
Vaccinations
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.
PREGNANCY AND GIVING BIRTH IN MOSCOW
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.
Pediatrician
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.
Immunization
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.
56.Relocation Guide :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
The Pre-Move Survey
In order to obtain a detailed written quotation for your move, your moving company will offer you to carry out a pre-move survey of your personal belongings at your residence. This survey should be carried out by a qualified moving consultant; it should be free of charge and should not put you under any kind of obligation toward the moving company.
The purposes of the pre-move survey are to:
Provide your moving company with a good idea as to the volume and nature of your shipment (personal belongings, artwork and antiques, motor vehicles, pets, etc.).
Confirm the final destination (city and country) for your shipment and supply you with information on your destination country, including information on the import customs regulations.
Inform you of the various available shipping methods for your relocation, including approximate transit times to your destination country. Based on your personal requirements, moving schedule and budget, your international moving consultant will help you determine the best shipping method or combination of shipping methods.
Discuss your moving schedule, including your prospective packing dates, your personal departure date from Russia / your origin country), your personal arrival date in your destination country / Russia, and the required delivery dates.
Tell you about the customs formalities that are necessary to clear your shipment through customs at both ends of your move.
Explain the Ministry of Culture procedure for the export of artwork and antiques to you (if your move originates in Russia).
Answer any questions you might have regarding packing & packing materials, including special packing and/or wooden crating for fragile or high-value items.
Explain the insurance cover offered by your moving company.
Discuss any special requirements and answer any additional questions you might have concerning your upcoming move.
All of Allied Pickfords Moscow's moving consultants are completely bilingual (English / Russian), with some also speaking German and French. In fact, all of our moving consultants around the world speak English - in addition to the language of their native country.
Please contact the Allied Pickfords Moscow anytime at (+7 095) 796-93-25, or send an e-mail to relocations@alliedpickfords.ru to set up a date and time for a free survey of your personal belongings. If you are moving to Russia from another country, please also contact our Moscow. We will then put you in touch with a qualified moving consultant from our office in your origin country.
57.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.
GIBDD
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.
Accidents
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.
Insurance
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
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.
Maintenance
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).
Petrol
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.
Towing
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.
58.The Moscow Expat Site :: The virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians, Moscow, Russia  
Every day new on The Moscow Expat Site:
News Links
Hold the front page! Keeping up with news can be a full-time job in itself... which is why The Moscow Expat Site has a dedicated staffer sifting and culling from world media, so you don't have to! On our News Links page you'll find headline stories updated daily by 7 a.m., with clickable links that put you in charge - so stop searching and start finding!
Vacancies
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: A private kindergarten requires a French teacher (for Russian-speaking children from 3 to 6 years old). Responsibilities include teaching children in all areas of development (speech, mathematics, art, social development, etc.). Working days: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 to 17:00 with breaks. 17.5 teaching hours per week.
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!
59.Moscow Neighbourhoods::Pushkinskaya Square::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Pushkinskaya Square
Pushkinskaya square is situated at the intersection of Tverskaya street and Tverskoy boulevard. Up to 1932 Pushkinskaya square was called Strastnaya after Strastnoy Monastery, which was demolished after the revolution, like all other churches on Tverskaya. Now on the place of the former monastery one can see a monument to the greatest Russian poet Alexander Pushkin; it is beloved all over Moscow and serves as a usual place for meetings. The idea to create it appeared already in 1837 just after Pushkin has lost his duel with Dantes. It required three competitions of sculptors to choose the finally realized project by A. Opekushin.
Now "Pushka" (informal name of the square) is in not only the place of historical interest; it is literally filled with different cafes and small restaurants. The huge building of Pushkinsky cinema never leaves cinema-lovers in peace: it possesses the biggest screen in Western Europe, and almost every show here is a national premiere. If you prefer noisy and fussy meals, the first and the biggest MacDonald's restaurant in Russia is waiting for you here.
Bolshaya Dmitrovka
Bolshaya Dmitrovka street runs parallel to Tverskaya from Okhotny Ryad to Strastnoy boulevard. The part of the ancient road to Dmitrov, it was named after this old Russian town. In the 18th-19th centuries members of aristocracy, who didn't grudge money for their sumptuous mansions, chose to settle here. Unfortunately, few of their houses survived till now; nevertheless the remnant part still provides an opportunity to imagine how this street looked like before.
In 1970s the entire pavement was covered with special black glass. It looked like a regular asphalted pavement, but it was quite a special affair. Unfortunately, later for some reasons glass was removed. In the 1990s various boutiques, shops, restaurants and small cafes rapidly spread around it, and the spirit of luxury returned to Dmitrovka.
Before the revolution House of Unions was occupied by quite an opposite organization - Moscow Assembly of Nobility. Balls given here were famous all over Moscow; Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, Liszt and other remarkable composers used to arrange their concerts here. Magnificent building in Classicism Style was erected in 1780 by Matvey Kozakov; in 1790 it was completely reconstructed, enlarged and the celebrated Column Hall was added.
Bolshaya Dmitrovka is lucky with theatres. One more home of Melpomena is located at No 17: it is the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko musical theatre. Originally built for count Saltykov, governor-general of Moscow, in 1839-1909 it was a place where the members of the Merchants' club had their meetings. Merchants' club was second in popularity after the famous English club; here rich merchants used to gamble their money and eat out in luxury restaurant, famous all over Moscow for outstanding cuisine. After the revolution this building was occupied by the Dmitrovsky theatre; since 1926 troupes of Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko used this stage together; these two troupes finally united in one musical theatre in 1941.
Malaya Dmitrovka
Passing two blocks from Bolshaya Dmitrovka via Bolshoy Putinkovsky lane, you get to Malaya Dmitrovka, a cosy narrow street, although a bit noisy. White hip-roofed Church of Nativity in Putinky stands right in the beginning of the street. Despite rather small size, it usually arrests attention of architecture lovers with a splendid lightness of the snow-white walls. It was the last church in Moscow employing the spire architectural style, before it was banned by Patriarch Nikon.
The building next door to the church is one of the best Moscow theatres - Lenkom (Theatre of Lenin's Komsomol). The building was erected in 1909 by Ivanov-Shitz for the Merchants' club, which moved here in 1909 from Bolshaya Dmitrovka.
Bolshaya Sadovaya
Not far from the corner of Tverskaya and Bolshaya Sadovaya streets there is a charming "Aquarium" garden. Formerly there was a "Chicago" garden here; after its reconstruction of 1896-1898 a lot of little fanciful fountains, artificial springs and waterfalls appeared here. All of them flowed into a big aquarium, from which the garden took its name. In the Soviet time after constructing a new building of the burnt Mossovet Theatre all of the water inventions disappeared, and the name Aquarium lost its sense. During the preparations to the Moscow's 850th anniversary the garden was at last rebuilt and now houses two theatres: the above-mentioned Mossovet Theatre and the Variety-Theatre.
The house No 10 on Bolshaya Sadovaya street has the well-known flat No 50. Mikhail Bulgakov lived here in 1921-1924, and this very flat he described in his famous novel "Master and Margarita". The walls and the doors of the porch are covered with very interesting inscriptions and the flat itself is a place of endless pilgrimage. There is a kind of Bulgakov's museum there, supported by alms and kept by enthusiasts.
Petrovka
Petrovka street was once a bank of Neglinka river and it was not exactly a pleasant place for a walk: in the spring overflowed river would make this street a big puddle of mud. But Neglinka was put under the ground and Petrovka became a fashionable shopping street. Petrovka was named after Vysokopetrovsky monastery which looks a bit lonely surrounded by 19th and 20th-century buildings. Prince Dmitry Donskoy founded it in 1380 after the legendary "Battle of Kulikovo". As the legend goes Donskoy had a vision of a high mountain covered with white snow; he considered it to be a divine sign and decided to build a cathedral which later became the main church of the monastery. Vysokopetrovsky monastery was under special patronage of the Naryshkiny family, in particular mother of Tsar Peter the Great Natalya Naryshkina. And the architectural style of the monastery is known as "naryshkinskoye" baroque.
House No 25 is one of the best samples of Moscow Classicism. Build in 1790 by architect Matvey Kozakov, this beautiful mansion was occupied by Kreisman's gymnasium which was famous for accepting students that had been expelled from other schools because of their free-thinking. Today it is a museum of Modern Art headed by Zurab Tsereteli.
Probably the most famous building on this street is house No 38. The phrase "Petrovka, 38" brings to mind signals of police cars and oaths of captured criminals. This used to be Moscow Criminal Investigation Department immortalized in one of the most popular Russian movies "Place of a Meeting is not to be Changed" starring Vladimir Vysotsky.
Karetny Ryad
Karetny Ryad street is Petrovka's continuation. Once it was a street where wagons were made. Progress went on, crude wagons were replaced by elegant carriages ("karety") and this street got its name. The main sight here is Hermitage Garden. It was opened in 1894 by Jakov Shchukin, former servant who had become an entrepreneur, and used to be a place where theatre performances, shows and fetes were arranged. It was here that in 1896 Muscovites could see the famous train arrival in the first ever movie by Lumier brothers. And in 1898 the premier of the play "Tsar Fedor Ioannovich" commemorated the beginning of Moscow Arts Theatre. Today there are several theatres, one opera theatre in "Hermitage" and in winter a skating rink with several cafes.
60.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.
FAVOURITE RUSSIAN PASTIMES
Dacha
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
Shashlyki (barbecues) are a very popular activity on summer weekends when Russians often invite friends to their dacha for a barbecue.
Banya
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.
Fishing
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
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.
ATTITUDES
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.
61.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
62.Moscow-at-a-Glance::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Moscow-at-a-Glance
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 sq.km (425 sq.mi), with the central part of the city - over 800 sq.km (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.
Population:
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.
Climate
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
-10
-10...-9
63.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: info@rosinka.ru Web: http://www.rosinka.ru
64.Real Estate Primer::Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
Real Estate Primer
Rent
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.
UTILITIES
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.
TYPES OF BUILDINGS
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.
65.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 sq.km (174 sq.mi) of green zones besides 100 sq.km (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.
PARKS
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
Web: www.vvcentre.ru
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)
Web: www.hortus.ru
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
Web: www.gpbuuc.ru
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
Web: www.gbsad.ru
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
Web: www.ek-park.ru
Fili
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
Web: www.parkfili.com
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
Web:www.liapark.ru
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
Web: www.park-gorkogo.com/en/
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
Web: www.mosgorsad.ru
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
Web: www.izmailovsky-park.ru
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
Web: www.okdit.mskobr.ru
Krasnaya Presnya Park
Open: 09:00 – 22:00
Address: Mantulinskaya ul., 5
Metro: 1905 Goda, Vustavochnaya
Web: p-kp.ru
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
Web: www.kuzpark.ru
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
Web: www.elkisland.ru
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
Web: www.park-gorkogo.com
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
Web: www.park-gorkogo.com
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. poklonnaya-gora.ru
Perovskiy Park
Address: Lazo ul., 7
Metro: Perovo
Tel: +7 495 309-5342
Fax: +7 495 309-5163
Web: www.perovskiy-park.ru
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
Web: www.s-bor.ru
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
Web: www.mosparks.ru
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
Web: www.park.sokolniki.com
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
Web: www.parktaganskiy.ru
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
Web: www.usadba-vorontsovo.ru
ESTATES
Abramtsevo
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
Web: www.abramtsevo.net/eng
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
Web: www.arkhangelskoe.ru

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
Web: www.mgomz.com
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
Web: www.mgomz.com
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
Web: www.kuskovo.ru
Kuzminki-Vlakhernskoye
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
Web: www.kuzminki-msk.ru
Lefortovo
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
Web: www.mgomz.ru
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
Web: www.ostankino-museum.ru/eng.php
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
Web: www.tsaritsyno-museum.ru
66.International Dialing Codes :: Moscow's virtual community for English speaking expats and Russians  
International Dialing Codes
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 consist of seven digits. As Moscow has two area codes (495 and 499), sometimes you have to dial eleven digits (depending if you're calling between the two). 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 and 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.
You can buy international prepaid calling cards (in kiosks around Moscow, notably the orange "A La Carte" kiosks) which offer considerable savings on calls. Some cards have optimized tariffs for different countries, so buy one which suits your needs best. The quality of connection can sometimes be spotty with the cheapest of these cards.
Paying your Domestic Phone Bill
Once a month you'll find a small slip of paper in your mailbox with some printing on it. That's your phone bill for long distance and international calls - no envelope, and very easy to miss in the clutter of junk mail.
To pay the bill:
You can go down to the local Sberbank and get in line;
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%;
You can pay by your credit card directly via ATM;
You can transmit money form your bank account via Internet-banking.
Once you've paid your bill be sure to save it. And if you wait too long to pay the service is cut off.
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61
43
994
355
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376
54
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1264
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1907
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375
32
591
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229
1441
975
267
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673
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86
56
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593
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33
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241
995
49
350
30
20
233
299
1473
590
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502
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1808
36
509
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852
91
62
98
964
354
353
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39
225
81
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1876
7
254
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686
850
82
856
371
961
231
218
370
352
423
266
389
261
60
223
356
212
222
52
373
976
853
265
960
692
230
2696
1664
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95
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31
64
505
234
47
264
674
599
1869
687
227
683
672
968
92
507
63
48
351
970/972
680
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974
40
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262
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966
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386
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34
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94
597
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90
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676
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1
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1809
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84
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263
Places
67.Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce 
Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce
Registered Association Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce (FRCC) was founded in 1946. It is a non-profit organization, whose mission is to promote companies’ business and competitiveness as well as economic relations in Russia and Finland.
68.Russian State Library of Arts 
Russian State Library of Arts
69.Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) 
Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP)
70.Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation  
Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation
71.Russian State Library Conference Hall 
Russian State Library Conference Hall
Web: www.rsl.ru
72.Museum of Russian Impressionism 
Museum of Russian Impressionism
Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 11:00 – 20:00
Wednesday, Thursday: 12:00 – 21:00
Ticket Office closes 30 minutes prior to Museum closing.
73.Congress Centre of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry 
Congress Centre of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Web: www.tpprf.ru
74.Russian Academic Youth Theater 
Russian Academic Youth Theater
Web: www.ramt.ru
Box-office: 11:00-15:00, 16:00-19:00.
75.All-Russian Exhibition Center VVTs 
All-Russian Exhibition Center VVTs
Web: www.vvcentre.ru/eng
Open: 08:00-22:00.
76.Russian Army Theater 
Russian Army Theater
Web: www.catra.su
Box-office: 11:00-15:00, 16:00-19:00.
77.German-Russian House Moscow 
German-Russian House Moscow
Web: www.drh-moskau.ru
78.Zurab Tsereteli Art Gallery 
Zurab Tsereteli Art Gallery
Web: www.rah.ru
Gallery of Russian Academy of Arts.
Open: 12:00-20:00,
Sun: 12:00-19:00.
Box-office: 12:00-19:00
Sun: 12:00-18:00.
Closed: last Monday of each month.
79.State Museum of Modern Art of the Russian Academy of Arts 
State Museum of Modern Art of the Russian Academy of Arts
Web: www.mmoma.ru
Open: 12:00-20:00, Thu 13:00-21:00.
Closed: the last Monday of each month.
80.Russian Cultural Foundation 
Russian Cultural Foundation
Web: www.culture.ru
81.All-Russian Grabar Artistic Restoration Center 
All-Russian Grabar Artistic Restoration Center
Web: www.grabar.ru
82.American Center  
American Center
Web: www.amc.ru
American Center is located on the third floor of the All-Russian State Library for Foreign Literature.
83.Albion Gallery 
Albion Gallery
Web: www.antik.msk.ru
Open: Mon-Sat 11:00-19:00.
Closed: Sunday.
Gallery, antiques for sale, auctions.
Consultations in Russian, English, German and French.
84.Museum of Russian University for the Humanities 
Museum of Russian University for the Humanities
Web: museum.rsuh.ru
Open: 10:00-17:00.
Closed: Sun, Mon.
Box-office: 10:00-16:00.
85.Sovcom - Soviet Art Gallery 
Sovcom - Soviet Art Gallery
Web: www.sovcom.ru
Russian, Soviet and modern art.
Open: Mon-Fri 10:00-19:00.
86.Pioner Cinema on Kutuzovsky 
Pioner Cinema on Kutuzovsky
Web: www.pioner-cinema.ru
Films in original languages with Russian subtitles.
Tickets: 100-350 Rbs.
87.Fakel 
Fakel
"Moskino" company regularly screens original language films with subtitles in their cinemas. At the moment they are being shown in "Fakel" cinema. All films are displayed with Russian subtitles. Ticket prices in «Moskino» cinemas are the lowest in Moscow – from 150 to 250 RUR each.
Children Venues
88.True Moscow Skating Rink  
True Moscow Skating Rink
Outdoor. Open: Mon-Fri 17:00-24:00,
Sat-Sun 12:00-24:00.
Entrance fee: 200 Rbs. Rental: 120 Rbs.
89.Museum of Russian Chocolate History  
Museum of Russian Chocolate History
A fascinating journey into the World and Russian history of chocolate. A chocolate shop and a chocolate studio are located near the entrance to the museum. The standard admission tickets include four tastings, visitors can also mold their own chocolate. Kids love it (and parents too!). Guided tours in English, French and Russian are available. Open: Tue-Sun 11:00–19:00. Closed: Mon.
90.All-Russian Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts  
All-Russian Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts
Woodworks, old Russian costumes,
headdresses, samovars, ivory, bronze,
malachite and lacquer miniature, porcelain,
glassware (18th-20th centuries).
Excursions in English are available.
Open: Mon, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun 10:00-18:00.
Sat 11:00-19:00.
Closed: Tue, the last Mon of each month.
91.Cafe Landrin  
Cafe Landrin
Wide range of desserts.
"Academy of Sweets" - funny cooking
lessons for children (Russian).
Groups (10 kids) on Sun 11:00.
"Restaurant Etiquette" course (Russian) for
children of 7-16:, 5 lessons, 1.5 hour each.
Custom-made sweets and cakes.
92.Cambridge International School  
Cambridge International School
Nursery, primary school, secondary school. International English Curriculum and Russian National Curriculum. English and Russian are the languages of speaking and teaching. Foreign languages: French, Spanish, German, Turkish.
93.Russian Costume Museum  
Russian Costume Museum
Web: www.kremlin-izmailovo.com
Excursions in English are available.
Open: 09:00-21:00.
94.Russian Museum of Wood  
Russian Museum of Wood
Open: Wed-Thu 11:00-19:00,
Fri-Sun 10:00-18:00.
95.Russian Academic Youth Theater  
Russian Academic Youth Theater
Box-office: 11:00-15:00, 16:00-19:00.
96.Russian Ice  
Russian Ice
Indoor. Open: Mon-Sun 11:00-23:00.
Entrance fee: 200-250 Rbs.
Rental: 150 Rbs.
97.Moscow International Film School  
Moscow International Film School
Russian. Ages: 12-17.
98.Model-357  
Model-357
Special children's dance programme. Russian.
99.All-Russian Exhibition Center (VVTs)  
All-Russian Exhibition Center (VVTs)
Open: 08:00-22:00 (summer), 09:00-19:00 (winter).
100.Krasota  
Krasota
Home hairdressers. Kid's haircuts. Russian only. Open from 06:00 till 23:00.
101.Pioneer Cinema  
Pioneer Cinema
Films in original languages with Russian subtitles.
102.All Russian Exhibition Centre and Park  
All Russian Exhibition Centre and Park
Open: (winter) Mon-Fri 09:00-19:00,
Sat-Sun 09:00-20:00;
(summer) Mon-Fri 08:00-22:00,
Sat-Sun 10:00-19:00.
103.Car Museum  
Car Museum
Russian and foreign historic cars.
Motorcycles, crush-test items.
104.Valday Service  
Valday Service
Russian agency. Nannies, governesses, teachers, domestic staff.
105.Little Angels Kindergarten  
Little Angels Kindergarten
Open for 1,5-6 year olds. Native English speaking teachers. French, Russian.
106.Family Care  
Family Care
Recruitment services for expat: nannies, housekeepers, drivers, Russian teachers. References.
107.Ostankinskaya TV Tower  
Ostankinskaya TV Tower
Observation deck - 337 meter.
Excursion (Russian only).
Advance appointment on the website.
Open: 10:00-19:00.
Closed: Mon.
108.Ogo-Gorod  
Ogo-Gorod
Early years programmes, entertainment area, children's psychologist, family cafe, shop. Russian.
109.Buratino-Pinocchio   
Buratino-Pinocchio
Dolls, books, theatre shows (Russian).
Take extra shoes.
By advance appointment only.
Open: 10:00-17:00.
110.Polly Sad  
Polly Sad
Cooking lessons for children (Russian)
on Sat at 12:00 (5-12 y.o.).
Children's animators on weekends.
111.Magic World Kindergarten  
Magic World Kindergarten
Open for 2-7 year olds. English, French, Russian, art-aesthetic programs, physical development. Psychologist. speech therapy classes.
112.Timofeeva Dance School  
Timofeeva Dance School
Ballet-oriented classes for children (ages +3) and adults. Jazz, hip-hop, club dancing. Russian. Regular seminars with foreign choreographers.
113.Znaika  
Znaika
Half-day /full-day nursery, primary and secondary school. For children from 2 up to 17 years old. Small groups and classes. Native English-speaking and Russian teachers.
114.Traversa Babysitter Childcare Agency  
Traversa Babysitter Childcare Agency
Russian agency under the language school. Nannies, teachers, nursery nurses.
115.International School of Moscow  
International School of Moscow
English National Curriculum. Open for 2-12 year olds. Native English speaking teachers. French, Russian.
116.Feya (Fairy)  
Feya (Fairy)
Old Russian agency offers multi-language: nannies & governesses, housekeepers & drivers, gardeners etc. Trained domestic staff in Moscow since 2003. Speak English.
117.Chitaika Children’s Center  
Chitaika Children’s Center
Preschool educational center and mini-nursery. Small groups. Open for 1,5-7 year olds. Classes in Russian and English.
118.Montessori School of Moscow  
Montessori School of Moscow
Upper Elementary, Elementary, Casa dei Bambini, Toddler and Parent Infant programs, English and Russian Speaking AMI standard teachers.
119.Moscow International Preschool  
Moscow International Preschool
Open for 2-6 year olds. Up to ten children per group. Art, music, dance, birthday parties. Native-speaking and Russian teachers, psychologist, speech therapist, extra-activities.
120.Molodezhnaya Montessori School  
Molodezhnaya Montessori School
Toddler (14 m - 36 m) and Casa dei Bambini (3-6+ years old) programs. International staff, AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) diplomas. Languages: English, Russian, French.
121.Slavic Anglo American School  
Slavic Anglo American School
Elementary, middle, high school. Open for 6-17 year olds.International staff. English and Russian are the working languages. German, French.
122.Moscow Swing Dance Society  
Moscow Swing Dance Society
Swing dance school. Russian. Regular workshops with foreign teachers. Multiple locations.
123.British International School  
British International School
8 schools. English National curriculum. Full Russian curriculum. Native English speaking teachers.
124.Greenwood (Montessori) School  
Greenwood (Montessori) School
Montessori Method plus the English National Curriculum. Classes in Russian and in English.
125.Magic Castle English Nursery School  
Magic Castle English Nursery School
Compehensive programme based on International Primary Curriculum. Half-day and full-day stay. Art, music, dance and sports. Other languages - Russian, Spanish, French and Chinese. Three locations - Novoslobodskaya, Tsvetnoi Bulvar, Polezhaevskaya m.st.
126.Tchik Tchik  
Tchik Tchik
The first American style children's hair salon in Moscow. Patient, child-friendly hairdressers. Specialized children's chairs. Cartoons (in French, English, Russian) and video games. Open: 10:00-19:00. By appointment only.
127.Piccolo School  
Piccolo School
Private bilingual kindergarten for children 2-7 years old. Open: 24 hours. Small groups and classes. Full-time and part-time groups.
Native English-speaking and Russian teachers. Art, music, dance, fitness, yoga, theatre.
128.Baby Club  
Baby Club
Learning through creative play for children aged 8 months to 14 years. Montessori and Zaitsev systems, adapted for children's age and language ability groups. Up to eight children per group. Also art, music, dance, chess, fitness, birthday parties. Native-speaking and Russian teachers.
129.Anglo-American School  
Anglo-American School
Elementary, middle and high school. Experienced educators, principally from the US, UK and Canada. International curriculum, a solid grounding in English/Language Arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Russian, French or Spanish, art, music, computer skills and physical education.
130.Cooperation School  
Cooperation School
English immersion nursery and kindergarten for children 2,5 – 7 years old. New Preschool in the centre of Moscow. Native English-speaking teachers and British national curriculum ( EYFS, KS1). Newly-constructed building with spacious classrooms, swimming pool and observatory. Russian lessons on request. No entrance fee!
131.St. Louis Catholic Church  
St. Louis Catholic Church
Services in English, French, Russian, Latin, Polish, and Vietnamese. First Holy Communion classes and Confirmation classes. To sign up, or to request more information, please write at contact@saintlouisinmoscow.ru.
132.Chitaika Children’s Center  
Chitaika Children’s Center
Preschool educational center and mini-nursery. Small groups. Open for 1,5-7 year olds. You can leave your child for an hour or for half a day from 10:00 to 14:00 from Monday to Sunday. Infant, Toddler and Primary programs. Music, dancing, sport, art, Russian as a foreign language, theatre performances, creative workshops. Week-end programmes for the whole family.
133.Fakel  
Fakel
"Moskino" company regularly screens original language films with subtitles in their cinemas. At the moment they are being shown in "Fakel" cinema. All films are displayed with Russian subtitles. Ticket prices in «Moskino» cinemas are the lowest in Moscow – from 150 to 250 RUR each.
134.Fakel  
Fakel
"Moskino" company regularly screens original language films with subtitles in their cinemas. At the moment they are being shown in "Fakel" cinema. All films are displayed with Russian subtitles. Ticket prices in «Moskino» cinemas are the lowest in Moscow – from 150 to 250 RUR each.
135.Russian State Children's Library  
Russian State Children's Library
Holds the largest repository of literature for children from one to fifteen years. There is a dozen and a half of subscribers' departments and reading halls and various kinds of entertainment and diversion, which open the children's eyes wide such as the room of fairy tales, the literary drawing-room, the music drawing-room in this vast specially designed building. Many studios, hobby groups and clubs work in the library, where boys and girls of various age indulge in drawing, sculping, playing on the stage, discussing books and writing themselves. There is a great department of the literature of foreign languages (more than 20). The stock of literature in English, French and Deutch is the largest.
Phone Directory
136.Russian Banya  
Russian Banya
137.Verny Drug (True Friend)  
Verny Drug (True Friend)
Veterinary clinic. 24/7.
138.True Moscow Skating Rink  
True Moscow Skating Rink
Outdoor. Open: Mon-Fri 17:00-24:00, Sat-Sun 12:00-24:00. Entrance fee: 200 Rbs. Rental: 120 Rbs.
139.R2F (Russian to Foreigners)  
R2F (Russian to Foreigners)
Russian language courses. Social Russian, Business Russian. Individual and corporate study.
140.Learn Russian language. Russian language learning. Learning a foreign language. Russian language course.Learning Russian. Russian language lessons. Learn to speak Russian. Language schools.  
Learn Russian language. Russian language learning. Learning a foreign language. Russian language course.Learning Russian. Russian language lessons. Learn to speak Russian. Language schools.
141.Stage for you  
Stage for you
Russian language courses. Russian through Theatre. Small groups - 6 to 8 students.
142.Translation agencies. English to Russian translation. Russian translation services. Translator services. Interpreting services. Translation companies. Russian translators. Document translation. Apostille  
Translation agencies. English to Russian translation. Russian translation services. Translator services. Interpreting services. Translation companies. Russian translators. Document translation. Apostille
143.Visa to Russia. Russian tourist visa. Russian visa support. Russian visa.Visa Russia. Visa services. Visa for Russia. Russian visa application.   
Visa to Russia. Russian tourist visa. Russian visa support. Russian visa.Visa Russia. Visa services. Visa for Russia. Russian visa application.
144.MyPoppet  
MyPoppet
Meet beautiful Russian women interested in marriage and romance. Find your Love in Russia. Beautiful women are waiting for you. Russian dating and marriage agency is offering romance calls to Russia, introduction and translation services. Talk with your Lady from Moscow and any other russian cities.
145.Center for Russian, English and French Studies (CREF)  
Center for Russian, English and French Studies (CREF)
French and Russian as foreign languages. Standard or intensive course. Individual or group training.
146.Russian as a Foreign Language for Everyday Speaking  
Russian as a Foreign Language for Everyday Speaking
The essential level of Russian. Programme of learning for every level.
147.Visa to Russia  
Visa to Russia
Complete Russian visa support: expert Russian / CIS visa processing, single, double and multiple-entry business visas, same-day tourist Russian visa invitations, registration upon arrival in Moscow and St-Petersburg, worldwide consular services: express courier service in Washington, New York, San-Francisco, Seattle, London, Edinburg, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Bonn, Munich, Hamburg, Rome, Prague, Tokio, Seoul, visas to all CIS countries via direct arrangements with local authorities.
148.Romanenko & Partners  
Romanenko & Partners
Business law, corporate law, labour law, real estate
transactions, tax consulting, migration law, etc. Firm's experts have a profound experience in handling projects for both Russian and foreign companies. Provided legal assistance for Russian Railways, Gazprom, Avtovaz, Siemens, etc.
149.Russian banya Moscow. Banya Moscow. Russian Banya. Russian sauna. Sandoony.  
Russian banya Moscow. Banya Moscow. Russian Banya. Russian sauna. Sandoony.
150.Petit Cref  
Petit Cref
Trilingual (French, English, Russian). Ages 2-6. Half and full days. Groups split by age. Art, music, drama. Also extra-curriculum activities everyday 16.30-18.00: yoga, arts and crafts, theatre, music, geography, cooking, Russian folklore, karate and circus art and animation. Weekend daycare from 10:00 to 18:00. Play area, birthday parties are organised.
151.American Russian Dental Centre   
American Russian Dental Centre
10% discount on first visit, includes X-Rays, teeth cleaning. The Russian dental clinic ARDC was founded in 2001 by dentist Giovanni Favero as a branch of his clinic at Sacramento, CA. Excellent preventive dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, implantology, orthodontics by Dr. Garo, and dental hygiene. Emergency care 24/7. More details about discounts on the web-site.
152.Russian Antiques Gallery  
Russian Antiques Gallery
153.Aeroflot Russian Airlines  
Aeroflot Russian Airlines
154.Russian International School  
Russian International School
155.Russian Fur  
Russian Fur
Fur and leather. Open: 10:00-18:00.
156.Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce  
Finnish-Russian Chamber of Commerce
157.Russian Ice  
Russian Ice
Indoor. Open: Mon-Sun 11:00-23:00. Entrance fee: 200-250 Rbs. Rental: 150 Rbs.
158.Intensive  
Intensive
Russian language courses. All levels.
159.Russian Bibliofil  
Russian Bibliofil
Second-hand and antique books.
160.Red October  
Red October
Famous Russian chocolate factory and sweetshop.
161.Global Link  
Global Link
Russian language courses. All levels.
162.Ruslingua  
Ruslingua
Group and individual Russian language teaching.
163.American Airlines  
American Airlines
Russian and English speaking operators.
164.Tom's House  
Tom's House
Russian language courses. Other foreign languages. All levels.
165.Russian National Group  
Russian National Group
Visas, tours, excursions, air tickets.
166.Admiral Center  
Admiral Center
Foreign and Russian cars repair and maintenance.
167.Green Wood Pre-School  
Green Wood Pre-School
Russian nursery. Art, sport, English language.
168.Iyengar Yoga Center  
Iyengar Yoga Center
Instructors speak Russian and English. All levels.
169.All-Russian Center of Disabled People Readaptation  
All-Russian Center of Disabled People Readaptation
Mobility aid sale and rentals.
170.Russian National Group  
Russian National Group
Visa support tours, hotel, tickets.
171.Inlingua   
Inlingua
Russian language courses for expatriates. English and other languages upon your request.
172.CDC Inter Training  
CDC Inter Training
Russian, German, English, French and Spanish as foreign languages.
173.Russian State Humanities University (RGGU) Internet cafe   
Russian State Humanities University (RGGU) Internet cafe
Open: daily 10:00 - 20:00
174.Visa House  
Visa House
Russian visas for businesspeople and tourists. Consultation and assistance in obtaining necessary documents.
175.ExpatCPA  
ExpatCPA
Personal tax services, Russian and US tax returns (CPA). Serving Moscow expatriate community since 1994.
176.Family Care  
Family Care
Recruitment services for expat: nannies, housekeepers, drivers, Russian teachers. References.
177.Moscow Linguistic Center  
Moscow Linguistic Center
Russian Language Courses. Evening classes for the expats. European languages.
178.Xfit Russian Tennis Club  
Xfit Russian Tennis Club
5 outdoor courts (surfaces: 2 - hard, 1 - regupol, 1 - plastic grating). Lighting.
179.Aardvark Enterprises  
Aardvark Enterprises
Russian full-range provider of translation, interpreting, desktop publishing and related services.
180.BKC-Globus  
BKC-Globus
French, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian as a Foreign Language.
181.Tet-a-Tet  
Tet-a-Tet
Our agency operates in Russia and aims at helping Russian women and girls intending to have a family and build serious relations with men from abroad.
182.Avakov, Tarasov & Partners  
Avakov, Tarasov & Partners
Payroll services for Russian legal entities, subsidiaries of foreign companies and sole proprietors.
183.Usadba  
Usadba
Renting and selling top-quality properties in Moscow and its closest suburbs. Investment consulting services on Russian real estate market.
184.Kva-Kva Park  
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.
185.Grint Centre for Education and Culture  
Grint Centre for Education and Culture
Russian language and culture classes. All levels.
186.White & Associates, Attorneys at Law  
White & Associates, Attorneys at Law
American visas. American citizenship for Russian spouses of U.S. expats.
187.Magic World Kindergarten  
Magic World Kindergarten
Private kindergarten-lyceum for children ages 2 to 7. English, Russian.
188.White & Associates, Attorneys at Law  
White & Associates, Attorneys at Law
American visas. American citizenship for Russian spouses of U.S. expats.
189.Global Assistant  
Global Assistant
Full-scope administrative and business support to expats in Russia. Great experience in the field of assistance and recommendations from well-known Russian and foreign businessmen.
190.Russian Post   
Russian Post
Domestic and international letter correspondence, packets and parcels, first-class mail, express-mail.
191.English Baby Club  
English Baby Club
Russian kindergarten for children from 1,6-2 years. English speaking staff and native speakers.
192.Fit Olympics  
Fit Olympics
Russian fitness aerobics federation club. Gym, aerobics, individual training, massage, tanning booth.
193.ITEC Language School  
ITEC Language School
Russian Language Courses in the historic center of Moscow. Special offer for the expats!
194.DPD  
DPD
Domestic and international parcel shipping, door-to-door delivery, 3,500 destinations within the Russian Federation as well as 220 countries and territories worldwide.
195.1one Design   
1one Design
Interior design from residential to commercial spaces, English, German, Russian, and Hungarian speaking staff.
196.Country of Tourism  
Country of Tourism
Russian combat jet flights, space holidays, extreme tours, and traditional cultural tours in Russia.
197.Bukbuk.ru  
Bukbuk.ru
Fiction, non-fiction & educational literature in English, Chinese, Spanish, German, Czech, Italian, French, and Russian.
198.Reisebuero Welt  
Reisebuero Welt
Hotel directory, Russian visas, air tickets and train tickets, conference facilities, sightseeing, transport services.
199.Moscow Economic School  
Moscow Economic School
A bilingual school (Russian/English) with one foreign language (German, Spanish or French). Under the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
200.English School Sunny plus  
English School Sunny plus
Russian & English language courses. General and Business. All levels. Individual or group study. Corporate classes.
201.Language Link   
Language Link
English, French, Russian and Italian as foreign languages (variety of courses). Translation and proofreading. Language study abroad.
202.Autobam  
Autobam
Th installation of additional equipment on foreign and Russian car. Tune, installing car alarms, audio-video systems, xenon and spetssignalov, insulation, etc. English speaking. Multiple locations.
203.G-Nius  
G-Nius
G-Nius is an originally Dutch recruitment agent, working on the Russian market since 2006. Their clients are foreign companies for whom we recruit throughout many different sectors and functional areas.
204.Novikov Catering  
Novikov Catering
The best chefs - experts in European, Russian, Japanese cuisines. Premium class service. All types of celebration. Capacity - 1000 persons in sitted affair, and up to 3000 guests regarding buffet.
205.Munro Productions  
Munro Productions
English-Russian company. Video production services across Russia. English-speaking crews with equipment. News, documentaries, music videos, promos.
206.Bene-Dictus  
Bene-Dictus
Languages: Russian as a foreign language, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese.
Education form: mini-groups and individual lessons, in-company classes.
207.Little Angels  
Little Angels
An International English medium kindergarten for children ages 18 months to 6+years with French/Russian language optional. All our teachers are professionally qualified experienced native English speakers.
208.Be Happy International  
Be Happy International
Discover thousands of beautiful Russian women looking for a relationship abroad. Video profiles are also available for selected ladies. Phone translation, gift delivery and tour arrangements to name a few extra features that are available to current members.
209.Liden & Denz Language Centre Moscow  
Liden & Denz Language Centre Moscow
Russian language courses in Moscow, Russia. Special expatriate rates.
210.Nord Outsourcing  
Nord Outsourcing
Payroll services for Russian legal entities, for representative offices of foreign legal entities, for sole traders.
211.Intelligent   
Intelligent
Russian as a Foreign Language, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Greek and other foreign languages, corporate language training.
212.International Kindergarten Little Angels  
International Kindergarten Little Angels
International English medium kindergarten for children ages 18 months to 7 years with French/Russian language optional.
213.Way to Russia Guide  
Way to Russia Guide
A guide to Russia and travel services directory: Russian visas, transport, tours, destination guides, travelers' forum.
214.Way to Russia Guide  
Way to Russia Guide
A guide to Russia and travel services directory: Russian visas, transport, tours, destination guides, travelers' forum.
215.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.
216.Hellevig, Klein & Usov  
Hellevig, Klein & Usov
Practical solutions for business administration needs as well as clear guidance for risk management in Russia and Ukraine. Legal issues facing a company and its executives operating business on the Russian and Ukrainian markets.
217.Big Ben  
Big Ben
Russian language courses. A course for kids and teenagers with any language level; A course for adults with any language level; corporate teaching; individual classes.
218.IT Partner  
IT Partner
Microsoft Gold Certified partner and HP Preferred Partner 2010/2011. English- and Russian-speaking certified engineers.
219.Magic Castle English Nursery School  
Magic Castle English Nursery School
Compehensive programme based on International Primary Curriculum. Half-day and full-day stay. Art, music, dance and sports. Other languages - Russian, Spanish, French and Chinese. Three locations - Novoslobodskaya, Tsvetnoi Bulvar, Polezhaevskaya m.st.
220.Spa Club Dvoryanskaya Usadba  
Spa Club Dvoryanskaya Usadba
Turkish bath, Russian banya, spa body treatments, skin care, nail services, body contours enhancement. Belly dance studio, aerobics, yoga and body ballet classes.
221.Rufit Consulting  
Rufit Consulting
A joint German-Russian company specialized on business consulting and supporting. Accounting/reporting, management consulting, business set-up, legal address/office space.
222.Haynes & Boone  
Haynes & Boone
Gaining access to the Russian markets, raising capital on foreign debt and equity markets, world's capital markets, international mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances.
223.Kimberly-Land  
Kimberly-Land
Two swimming pools, small pool for infants, aqua-aerobics, Russian bath, Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, ice pool, pool with geysers, bar on water. Open: 10:00-22:00.
224.Globus International Language Centre  
Globus International Language Centre
Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language (General, Intensive and Business Courses), English, French, German and other foreign languages, corporate language training.
225.Montessori School of Moscow  
Montessori School of Moscow
Open to children aged birth to 6+ years old and offers three programs: Parent Infant Class, Toddler Community and Casa dei Bambini. Teachers and staff are fluent in English and/or Russian, have international work experience and/or education and speak other languages.
226.GMS Clinic   
GMS Clinic
A premier multispecialty diagnostic and inpatient facility. Western trained multilingual staff. Direct billing agreements with major Western and Russian insurers.Full range of lab services and functional diagnostics. 24/7. Pediatrics. Emergency, house calls, ambulance.
227.Radeus Language Services   
Radeus Language Services
Full range of translation and interpretation (consecutive, simultaneous) services. Notary services, apostille, certified translation, proof-reading, tour guides. Language courses and Russian tutors.
228.Finnish School  
Finnish School
Language of instruction is Finnish. On the lower and higher level of comprehensive school there are 36 pupils, of which part is bilingual (Russian-Finnish). 660 sq. meters. Sport field, playing field, computer classes, hot meal.
229.Russian Business Travel  
Russian Business Travel
Business travel arrangements and corporate travel management.
230.Central Clinical Hospital of the Russian Academy of Sciences  
Central Clinical Hospital of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Full range of lab services, endoscopy, radiology, ultrasound and functional diagnostics. Cutting-edge medical equipment, world-renowned English-speaking specialists. Ophthalmology (glaucoma, cataract surgery, etc.), Orthopedics, Traumatology (hip, knee replacement, arthroscopic surgery, etc), IVF Treatment.
231.Ranet  
Ranet
Based in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other regions of the Russian Federation. Maintenance and cleaning of premises. Carpet cleaning and crystallization of marble floors, granite, stone, terracotta. Rehabilitation after work and cleaning property. Cleaning offices, specific cleaning shops, medical offices and beauty salons.
232.Counseling Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Coach  
Counseling Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Coach
Counseling psychologist, client-centered psychotherapist and co-active coach. 10 years of experience. Offer counseling, psychotherapy and coaching both in Russian and in English. Work via skype and in-person (in Moscow). Kirill Kryuchkov
233.Moscow Service For Psychological Help  
Moscow Service For Psychological Help
Personal and Family psychotherapy for English/Russian speaking people by psychologist working for the Moscow Service For Psychological Help. Individual, couple and family appointments. Supervised by European Family Therapy Association specialists.
234.Nordway Travel Company  
Nordway Travel Company
Group and individuals tours, tailor made tours, cultural and ecological tours, cruises by Russian and Ukrainian rivers, business trips, VIP services, professional guides and interpretors, transportation services, hotel reservation, seminars, parties and special events, excursion services.
235.Flightman & Priest  
Flightman & Priest
Moscow-based boutique law firm with a strong focus on supporting foreigners in Russia. Offers exceptional legal expertise coupled with thorough understanding of the Russian and international business and political environment. Can assist you on a vast majority of legal issues in the field of labor, tax, corporate, real estate law, as well as wealth planning and dispute resolution.
236.Cambridge International School  
Cambridge International School
Cambridge International Curriculum for children from 3 to 18 years old. We provide education in English with elements of Russian programme. Native English teachers. Completely modernized school building. Afterschool activities: Music, Arts, Sports (football, karate, ballet).
237.American Clinic Dental Art   
American Clinic Dental Art
Part of Global Medical System Clinics and Hospitals. Western trained multilingual staff. Direct billing agreements with major Western and Russian insurers. Full range of dental services: implantology, oral surgery, prosthetics, orthodontics, X-ray Diagnostics on site, laser dentistry. Dental emergency -24/7.
238.The Vip Moscow Taxi  
The Vip Moscow Taxi
Reliable, low-cost, English speaking taxi/transfer service. All Moscow airports including Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo at any time of day at no extra charge. English-, Turkish- French, Russian -speaking operators. Online order. English version of the website.
239.Wordsmiths Communications   
Wordsmiths Communications
Business, legal, technical and other translations, editing texts both in Russian and English, page making and design, printing and publishing, notary certification of translations, legalization, apostil, simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, archive of translated national standards GOST and SNiP (construction norms and regulations); translating diagrams in AutoCAD format; translation of web-sites.
240.ESL  
ESL
All vehicles are insured and free of unconditional franchise and daily mileage limits. Managers speak fluent English, and the rental agreement is made both in Russian and English. Office is located 10 mins drive from Sheremetyevo airport. All vehicles are brand new and are equipped with full comfort set: automatic-climate-control, CD/Radio with steering wheel controls, fully electric windows and mirrors, etc.
241.Psychotherapy and Counselling Services  
Psychotherapy and Counselling Services
Work with individuals, couples, families and kids. Successfully treat: Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Relationship, Personal and Emotional issues, Eating and Psychosomatic disorders. Life and Career Coaching to bring you certainty and make you naturally efficient and successful in life. Over 10 years of experience, MA in Counselling, BSc (Hons) in Psychology. Sessions can be given either in English or Russian. Contact Andriana.
242.Smithbridge Advisory Services Ltd.  
Smithbridge Advisory Services Ltd.
Corporate and investment Consultancy. Russian market entry and presence consultancy, Investment planning, buying and selling existing businesses services, transaction advisory, corporate law, work permits, accounting and payroll services, visa support, trade mark registration, contracts.
243.Great British Nannies  
Great British Nannies
Great British Nannies is a British Nanny, Governess and Tutor agency located in London and Moscow. They specialize in placing experienced, highly skilled, native English speaking childcare educators in to high profile Russian families in London, Moscow and other worldwide destinations.
244.Smithbridge Advisory Services Ltd.  
Smithbridge Advisory Services Ltd.
Corporate and Investment Consultancy. Russian market entry and presence consultancy, Investment planning, Buying and Selling existing businesses services, Transaction advisory, Corporate Law, Work permits, Accounting and payroll services, Visa support, Trade Mark registration, Contracts.
245.Sweet Home Abroad  
Sweet Home Abroad
Apartments and Villas in Europe. A fully bilingual apartment rental service, catering to travellers on vacations, short-term visits and business trips to the major cities of Europe, North America and Israel. All apartments, houses and villas are carefully selected and maintained by registered management companies. Customer support is available in English, Russian and Spanish (select destinations).
246.P'titCREF  
P'titCREF
Trilingual kindergarten, where kids flourish in three languages and cultures with teachers-native speakers (English, French and Russian). P’titCREF1905 welcomes children of all nationalities from 2 to 7 years old. Small groups, cozy environment and spacious, secure park! During summer and other holidays the school is functioning as a camp, offering to kids fascinating leisure time full of excursions, interesting projects and workshops and much more in English and French.
247.Dr. Charles Register BA, DC  
Dr. Charles Register BA, DC
Dr. Charles Register is a doctor of chiropractic practicing in Moscow since 1993. Graduate of Life College of Chiropractic (Marietta, Georgia) 1992. Carson-Newman College (Jefferson City, TN) 1988 BA Biology/ BA Chemistry. Member of International Chiropractic Association and World Chiropractic Alliance. Dr. Charles speaks Russian, Arabic and his native language English.
248.Enex Movers  
Enex Movers
Russian moving company located in Moscow. International moving services and shipping of personal effects. Full door-to-door moving services: Professional packing and custom crating; disassembly and re-assembly of furniture; land, air, sea shipping. Full and part loads; custom cleareance at origin and destination.
249.Shiny  
Shiny
Shiny is an innovative booking platform for connecting individuals looking for household services with English-speaking top-quality, fully vetted and trained professional cleaners. With a seamless 60-second booking process, and secure payment, Shiny is the easiest, most convenient way to book home services in Moscow. Shiny Customer Service is available in Russian, English, German, Italian and French. Get 30% off the first clean with a promo code "Expat.ru".
250.International Crisis Line   
International Crisis Line
Free Psychological Help Line, daily from 8:00 until 23:00. The help line is a free confidential phone-in service, providing professional counseling in a discreet, comfortable atmosphere. This service is provided by an international team of psychologists and psychotherapists who are experienced in counseling on different relational and personal issues, handling trauma and crisis, career counseling and psychotherapy. Counseling is available in English, Russian, French, and Polish.
251.Kursky Railway Station  
Kursky Railway Station
Long-distance trains to Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine. Russian destinations include Kursk, Orel, Perm, and Vladivostok and other southern and southeastern and eastern destinations in Russia and the CIS countries. Commuter trains to Balashikha, Elektrostal, Fryazevo, Kupavna, Noginsk, Petushki, Reutovo, and Vladimir (all belong to the "Gorkovskoye" direction); Chekhov, Podolsk, Serpukhov, and Tula (all belong to the "Kurskoye" direction); Nakhabino and Volokamsk ("Rizhskoye" direction); and Golitsyno, Mozhaisk and Zvenigorod ("Smolenskoye" direction).
252.US Dental Care  
US Dental Care
US Dental Care has been providing professional dental services in Moscow since 1994. The American Board-certified dentists and hygienists provide all forms of general, specialty, and children's dentistry, including cosmetic procedures, orthodontic care, implant surgery and restorations, oral surgery, periodontics, hygiene, and emergency care. US Dental Care maintains only the highest standards of sterilization in a family-friendly environment. Direct billing with many worldwide and Russian insurance companies, corporate membership, and individual health plans are also available.
253.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.
254.Moscow hostel. Cheap hotels. Moscow hostels. Hostels in Moscow. Russian hostels. Cheap hostels.   
Moscow hostel. Cheap hotels. Moscow hostels. Hostels in Moscow. Russian hostels. Cheap hostels.
255.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.
Dining Out
256.Gadget Studio  
Gadget Studio
Gadget Studio is the world first gadget pub made by a famous Russian tech lover and journalist for people who love technologies. We have special gadget menu where you can order for free powerbank, headphones, selfie stick and many more gadget accesoires. It's three venues in one: restaurant, small cinema and lounge, with lots of TV screens. Broadcasting all major hitech events and football games: Gadget Studio is official restaurant of Russian football champion Lokomotive Moscow.
257.Ultra  
Ultra
Russian and European cuisines.
258.Russkie Sezoni (Russian Seasons)  
Russkie Sezoni (Russian Seasons)
Anatoly Komm's gastronomic restaurant.
259.Gratzi  
Gratzi
Mediterranean cuisine with a variety of International and Russian dishes. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
260.LavkaLavka  
LavkaLavka
The first Russian locavore restaurant with a delightful seasonal menu. All ingredients from local farmers. The main idea is to stay traditional but add something modern not to be old and boring.
261.Syostry Grimm (Sisters Grimm)  
Syostry Grimm (Sisters Grimm)
Intelligent serving European, Italian, Russian, French cuisines. Every Monday from 17:00 until 21:00 two burgers at a price of one.
262.Staraya Bashnya (Old Tower)  
Staraya Bashnya (Old Tower)
Three-storeyed reconstructed tower, part of the ancient Kitai-Gorod wall, built in the XVI century. Russian cuisine. Bar.
263.Stolle  
Stolle
'Stolle' cafe-pies network specializes in pies baked with traditional Russian receipts.
264.Savoy Restaurant  
Savoy Restaurant
The renowned Savoy Restaurant, designed to mirror the elegance of Versailles Palace, offers guests a distinctive fine dining experience with its authentic Russian and European culinary delights.
265.Grand Alexander  
Grand Alexander
Named after the beloved Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, Grand Alexander features French and other European cuisines. Open for dinner.
266.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.
267.Hard Rock Cafe   
Hard Rock Cafe
Breakfasts, business lunches, happy hours, live music, late night dancing. First Russian restaurant of the world-famous chain. Classical and special American cocktails. Every Thursday at 22:00 - Hard Rock Live.
268.Clumba Club  
Clumba Club
With an impressive list of wild gigantic oysters from Russian Pacific depths and open kitchen inside huge quadrangular bar counter, Clumba Club is all set to bid for the Guinness World Records book as the biggest oyster bar in Europe. We don’t know for sure about that claim, but reasonable prices for planted oysters from France, with Fin de Claire #2 $2,5 a piece, make Clumba Club a must go spot for a dedicated sea-food fan.
269.BBcafe  
BBcafe
Breakfast from 07.30 until 11:00, business lunch from 12:00 until 16:00. Menu presents dishes of Sicilian cuisine, popular Russian dishes as well as homemade dishes from all over the world. BBcafe has its own bakery to bake bread and Italian cookies, make jam, nougats, jellies, homemade yogurt, fruit drinks, compotes, soft drinks. Special thrill - Siberian dishes, the recipes of which have been handed down in the family of one of the owners of the establishment. Charming summer terrace.
270.Osteria della Piazza Bianca  
Osteria della Piazza Bianca
There are two chefs working on Osteria Bianca kitchen, who speak three languages (Italian, English and Russian). They gladly come out to the hall and communicate with guests friendly. Decor made by impression of Italian Riva boat, so everything in the restaurant is an exact copy of this boat. Main hall was built as prow of the boat, with compliance of every ships specific detail. There are two kitchens in the restaurant: open one, surrounded by bar, on which you can sit and watch the preparation of pizza and pasta; and closed one, that you can see through a big porthole.
271.Mio  
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.
272.Khacha Puri  
Poorly-run and over-priced Georgian Cafe
The idea ought to be a winner - delicious Georgian cuisine, in a warm friendly atmosphere, with a great location a few minutes off Pushkin Square. Unfortunately, very little of the promise is delivered. I ought to say that on the evening of our visit, a large table of “VIP” guests was commanding the attention of the restaurant staff, and we struggled to get the attention of waiters. I’d gone with a Russian friend - the waitress conversed entirely in Russian with her, and ignored me completely - even having my friend “translate” for me (although my Russian is up to TV-interview standard). I found this extremely rude.
“Khacha Puri” (named after the famous Georgian cheese breads) is an informal cafe arranged on two floors, with a minimalist steel-and-glass design that avoids the usual cliches of Georgian cafes. Seating is cramped and hardly relaxing - the whole cafe is very smoky. There is some naff live piano music that conjures up the atmosphere of a funeral. The menu comprises a shortlist of Georgian classic dishes - rather shorter than you will find in most other Georgian restaurants in Moscow, in fact. Mostly these dishes are adequately prepared - but there is nothing at all special to justify prices that are averagely 30-40% higher than in other Georgian cafes.
We began with house-speciality cocktails - a Pomegranate Mohito (290 RUR) that was refreshingly tangy (although not really much like a Mohito), and a rather horrible Grape Mohito (260 RUR) which went undrunk after a few sips. We ordered a khachapuri each, and decided to share the rest of the dishes, in usual Georgian fashion. The Red Lobio (bean salad, 270 RUR) was dry and lacked flavouring - the usual tart-plum sauce was missing. The same was true of the Eggplant Pkhali (320 RUR) - obviously prepared by a garlic-hating puritan who was being parsimonious with the olive-oil. Considering that you can pick-up a portion of delicious pkhali from a Georgian deli for half this price, I was feeling very short-changed at this point.
The food took an age to come. In fact everything took an age, and we’d been sitting in the restaurant for forty minutes before even the first items (home-made lemonade 90 RUR, home-made Tarkhun soft-drink 120 RUR) arrived. There’s no evidence of any management in the restaurant. The Grilled Vegetables (200 RUR) were very nicely prepared and presented - although they lacked some kind of sauce (of which Georgian cuisine has dozens) to accompany them. The Lamb Chops (490 RUR) were excellent, and juicily delicious. We also tried a Salmon Khinkhali (one piece = 90 RUR) - passable if unremarkable.
Finally the khachapuri cheese breads arrived - we took an Imeretian khachapuri (one of the simpler kinds, for 190 RUR), and an Adzharian khachapuri (240) with the traditional egg topping. Since these are the house speciality, there was every reasonable expectation that they ought to be good - and indeed they are, if a bit on the small side.
The service isn’t just slow - it’s shoddy. I had popped into “Khacha Puri” on a previous occasion (when they were nearly empty, at 10pm on a Sunday night) and had found the service brusque. This second visit was by way of giving them a second chance, but frankly it was no better.
If you’ve lived in Moscow for any time, you’ll almost certainly already have a favourite Georgian cafe or restaurant. I lived opposite one for eight years, and every visit was always a pleasure - smiling waiters, genial hospitality, great food, and a warm atmosphere. If those are your criteria for a Georgian meal, you’ll be sadly disappointed by Khacha Puri. I struggled to be more positive about this restaurant, but couldn’t find much to praise. After a long wait for indifferent food, we couldn’t be bothered to wait still longer for desserts or coffees, and left to have a coffee along Tverskaya instead.
273.Cheapside  
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.
274.Lebedinoe Ozero (Swan Lake)  
Rain, Rain Go Away…
This has been one of the rainiest summers I can remember in Moscow. I am not used to carrying around umbrellas in the summer, and unfortunately have a habit of constantly forgetting them when I do – already on my fourth one. Thankfully we finally now seem to be seeing real summer weather, providing this often grey city and its inhabitants the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and its many outdoor cafes that sprout up in summer like mushrooms after a, er, hard rain.
Lebedinoe Ozero, “Swan Lake,” is one such cafe worth a visit – even if the skies are cloudy. Nestled in a corner of Neskuchny Sad behind Gorky Park, on the bank of the Golitsyn Pond, Lebedinoe Ozero provides a quaint sanctuary from Moscow’s bustle, and a quiet, more civilized spot away from some of Gorky Park’s carnival atmosphere establishments and crowds. The fact that Lebedinoe Ozero is not easy to find is in fact one of its highlights.
Created by the same folks who brought this city Solyanka (see my past review) and the successful project club Kak na Kanarax of last summer that was moored a stones-throw away nearby on the Moscow River, Lebedinoe Ozero is a unique fusion mix of food and interior. Outfitted with rustic wooden furniture from Thailand, a tiki torch lighted walkway, sheet metal roof, bright fabrics and pillows, and even a small swimming pool, Lebedinoe Ozero recreates a summer vacation atmosphere of a small, hidden beachside hut you would retire to after a day of swimming in the surf, or – as we did – spending a relaxing rainy afternoon waiting for grey clouds to pass.
With summer sandals on our feet, my dinner companion – one of Moscow’s PR professionals (what’s with all the PR people in Moscow these days?) - and I enjoyed a recent cloudy Sunday afternoon under Lebedinoe Ozero’s tin roof contemplating our summer vacation plans. Although quite easily accessible by the pedestrian bridge connecting Neskuchny Sad with Frunzenskaya Naberezhnaya, we arrived via car (convertible in fact, courtesy of my PR companion, to add to the inner vacation experience) through a hidden driveway of off Leninskiy Prospekt and parked under said bridge (courtesy of a 100 ruble note to a park security guard who suddenly appeared).
The open-air restaurant is sheltered by a small thicket of trees, and appears as if a clearing in a small “jungle a la Russe.” We settled in at a slab wooden table overlooking the pond, an idyllic scene completed with weeping willows whispering in the breeze, a mother duck and her chirping ducklings, and the namesake swans gliding about on the water’s surface. The menu, not too surprisingly, resembled that of Solyanka’s, a mix of Asian, European, Russian-Caucasian (lyula kebab, 360 RUR, and Osetinskiy Pirog, 320 RUR), and Lebanese. As if an answer to my scorn for pseudo-Japanese cuisine in this city, there was – thankfully – no sign of Philadelphia rolls and other forms of ever-present Moscow sushi.
After ordering a pina colada (310 RUR) and a pot of tea (260 RUR) from their extensive cocktail & drinks menu (fresh juices – 280-390 RUR), we perused the eclectic selection of appetizers (160-640 RUR) including toast tips and salmon (240 RUR), tongue salad (360 RUR) and agreed on the hummus and pita bread (220 RUR) to encourage our appetites. The portion of hummus itself was in fact not enough for two, leaving us to cross swords of rather oily and chewy pita bread for every bit of the yummy bean paste goodness that, while tasty, was not quite at the standard of other hummus dishes around town.
I seemed to have lost that battle, but was soon consoled by what was perhaps some of the best okroshka (without meat – 250 RUR) – a perfect soup for summer (Russia at least does have soup right) - that I have had in Moscow. My dinner companion skipped ahead right to the main course of steamed salmon (420 RUR), a big succulent filet of pink fish flesh that received good PR at the table. Although the other main courses (290-470 RUR) of fish, chicken, and meat, were tempting, I gave into the appeal of a salad with sliced tuna (470 RUR) – another dish befitting summer.
The light summer meal made for an ideal way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, and for a few moments I felt as if indeed I was thousands of kilometers away in waterside cafe in southeast Asia waiting for the rain to pass and the sun to appear – and in fact it soon did, but not warming us enough to take a dip in the pool by the bar. However, the on-site Thai massage service – administered by, what I was told, true Thai professionals – was an attractive post-meal option that we did, alas, forgo this time.
Now that the sun and weather do seem to be giving us a real summer, I intend to make a return trip – perhaps as a pre-club spot for a long weekend night. Lebedinoe Ozero offers a good menu of some tasty dishes, but its true appeal is its relaxing, casual atmosphere for an evening with friends or an afternoon of summer dreaming. Alas, in Moscow, summer goes by much too fast. Enjoy it while you can.
275.Kolbasoff   
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.
276.Chugunny Most  
Chugunny Most, a stylish gastro-pub on Pyatnitskaya, found a neat way of grabbing some publicity late last year. After PM Dmitry Medvedev publically lamented that it was difficult for him and his fellow bureaucrats were on the look-out for a suitable place to celebrate their New Year’s party, the owners immediately invited him to drop in and check out what they could offer. After all, with the state seemingly eager to support Russian business in these straightened times, it should have been a good deal for all.
Sadly Dmitry Anatolevich and his eminent companions didn’t manage to get a festive booking together in time; those who do get it together for a visit can expect a fine feeding from the latest venture of the people behind the well-regarded ‘Krylashki and Nogki’ venues that brought the whole gastro-pub concept to Moscow a couple of years back.
That story was shared over a serving of a classic ‘herring-and-potato’ salad that goes a long way towards explaining what Chugunny Most is all about. The food is – for the most part – simple and unpretentious, the kind of thing your babushka would make. But it’s presented with the quality and imagination that lifts it above the mundane stodge of so much everyday Russian food, and the menu demonstrates a sharp awareness that contemporary Russian cuisine doesn’t need to restrict itself purely to Russian food traditions and can draw on ideas from around the world without sacrificing its identity.
Chugunny Most – which means ‘cast-iron bridge’ takes its name from the bridge that carries Pyatnitskaya over the water toward Balchug and the city center. Today, admittedly, the bridge itself is a 1960s concrete affair and Pyatnitskaya is no longer the commercial heart of Old Moscow, but as the region reinvents itself as a more recreational district with a largely pedestrianized area around the metro stations the cafe is well placed to attract discerning diners.
The menu is extensive and imaginative, offering a wide range of snacks for sharing over a glass of wine as well as bunch of heartier dishes if you’re looking for a full-on feed. The accent is eclectic, with an emphasis on subtly reworking some old classics or presenting new flavor combinations. In keeping with the whole gastro-ethos, close attention is paid to sourcing good, fresh ingredients and serving them in an affordable format. It’s another welcome addition to the range of middle-ground restaurants in Moscow that are steadily bridging the gap between ‘pafosny’ overpriced nonsense and alarmingly basic canteens.
What does that mean in practice? Well, it means soups like the ‘mushroom cappuccino’, pitched somewhere between a mousse and a souffle and rich in warm, earthy flavors of fungus. It’s a million miles away from traditional Russian soups, or even the tins of Heinz cream of mushroom that popped up in my childhood … and it’s much better than either. It means exploring what can be done with the Mimosa salad when you ditch the sorry, stale ingredients left over at the back of the fridge, replace the sad, dried, unidentifiable fish with ocean-fresh crab and think through the presentation to ensure that an old familiar cannot be taken for granted.
Elsewhere on the menu, it’s hard to beat a simple starter of tomato and quinoa – just for the explosion of fresh flavors that accompanies every mouthful. Even a committed meat-eater with a deep-seated suspicion of anything that smacks of a salad should find something to enjoy here.
The urge to highlight how ordinary food can be enhanced with some culinary TLC also transforms the golubtsy. These parcels of meat cooked in cabbage leaves can so easily come out as a formless mess, so it’s reassuring to see it arrive on the plate with foliage that still packs a bit of crunch when you bite into it. Swimming in a rich, creamy sauce also makes this one a winner.
One of the most popular dishes from Dmitry Zotov’s kitchens at ‘Krylashki I Nogki’ has made the trip over the river to Zamoskvarechiye – the turkey falafel is on the menu here and matches up to its colleague. This has become one of the foodie favorites around Moscow and is a welcome addition here.
Not everything was a hit, of course – the bruschetta on offer were solid rather than spectacular, and the same criticism might be applied to some of the desserts. But even if a Chugunny Most disappoints slightly, that is more a reflection of the high overall standards here.
While we were guided through the menu by our host, and got to sample a fair selection of what was on offer, there’s still plenty on the list to encourage future visits. The Moroccan soup and the baked goat that were on offer when we visited certainly caught the eye, while there’s a frequent rotation of dishes to ensure that there’s always something new to nibble on.
277.Noev Kocheg (Noah's Ark)  
Before we begin the review itself, we would like to warn our readers about the disadvantageously placed decorative metal bars pyramiding up around the bottoms of trees along the sidewalk outside Noah's Ark. They are stealth-ninja metal bars that you may not see at first glance, but be careful, they may jump up out of nowhere, causing you to trip, or perhaps lose your balance, and crash to the ground. Mind you, these bars do not differentiate between people who are sober and those who have enjoyed a libation or two. If you are unable to avoid the evil metal bars and consequently end up in a pool of your own blood, never fear, the doormen have seen the metal bars attack many times and will kindly help you back up.
Once we were inside and had brushed ourselves off, the manager gave us a tour of the restaurant and a brief lesson in Armenian history. He began by showing us "the gold room," which is on the bottom floor. It is much smaller and more intimate than the main room upstairs, and features plush half-circle sofas instead of your typical wooden furniture. (If you want to impress someone, make reservations for this room.)
The owners of the restaurant have devoted a great deal of attention to the furnishings, decorations and details on both floors, made of metal, wood, fabrics, canvas and stone, nearly all imported from Armenia (although the chairs were from Italy). Even the fish pond at the entrance is shaped as a miniature Lake Sevan, which is apparently Armenia's most beloved body of water.
The main guest room is quite different from the gold room - it is more dimly lit, there are more people and there is just much more going on in general. If you have a larger group or a special occasion, you can reserve a special curtained area for more privacy. An open grill is set up directly across from the main arc into the second-floor dining area, so that you may verify the freshness of your shashlik, or so we were told. We were seated and given a complimentary warm drink of rosehip tea with honey and cinnamon. There were quite a few large parties, but none of them were overly loud, and the spaciousness of the restaurant meant that the place didn't feel hectic or crowded.
After confirming that we would indeed prefer to make our own choices as to what we would be ingesting that evening, we were given menus. They do have menus in English, but if you read Russian, we recommend getting the Russian menu since the English menu is more confounding than it is amusing. (Not so for the dessert menu, but more about that later.) The menu is long, one of those notorious 'tomes' that it will take at least a good 15 minutes to browse through before you've narrowed it down to 5 pages. If you are planning ahead, you might consider checking the menu online at www.noevkovcheg.ru, where you can find a list (and some pictures) of the menu selections.
After much page turning and mulling about, we decided to try Armenian beer (Kilikia, Kotayka, and Erebuni, 110 Rbs). Surok wanted to try the most unpronounceable item on the menu, the tzhvzhik, or veal liver (480 Rbs). Unfortunately for her, they were out of tzhvzhik that night. Instead she opted for kabachki s tarkhunom, or squash rolled with minced beef and walnuts (200 Rbs) and chose the sturgeon in a clay pot (580 Rbs) over the assortment of 5 different types of shashlik (720 Rbs - pork, lamb, veal, chicken and veal liver). I decided to try their spinach salad with walnuts (250 Rbs), the burum v lavashe (290 Rbs) and the tolma (350 Rbs).
The spinach salad was not a spinach salad as Americans know it - it was spinach cooked in matsun sauce (sour milk) with finely grated walnut, served cold. The flavor was very mild but fresh. It was quite a contrast in taste when compared with Surok's squash; to say that she was highly impressed with it would be an understatement. I also tried a bite, and was surprised to find something akin to tex-mex spices used in all the right ways in this surprising southern dish. (It almost made my spinach seem kind of boring) Surok noted that the matsun-tarkhun sauce really made the dish - the combination of sweet meat, strong herbs and the sour milk was just perfect.
The burum v lavashe came next. This dish is basically bits of beef, mushrooms, spinach and cheese rolled up in flat lavash bread. It seemed like a good idea. That is not to say that it was a bad idea - all of the ingredients were nice enough. But in the end, we both decided that none of the ingredients really did anything for the other ingredients. It was good, it was filling, but it didn't knock our noski off.
Next came the main dishes. Surok's sturgeon came in the pot as promised. The clay pot was sealed shut with lavash, an interesting touch that initially made it a bit of a challenge to actually get to the food. Inside was a hearty stew of fresh sturgeon, potatoes and mushrooms in a sour cream and sweet pepper sauce. It was a tasty, warm and filling dish, great for the wintertime. But again, the ingredients didn't complement each other 100%, and Surok noted she could have done without the mushrooms.
The tolma, or minced beef mixed with rice and wrapped in grape leaves (also called dolma by other nationalities), were a very pleasant surprise. I had been of the impression that there wasn't really much you could do for a tolma. True enough, this is fairly simple fare, but Noah's Ark really, really knows their tolma. I have never had finer tolma. The leaves were tender, not chewy or tough, and the meat inside was perfectly juicy without making anything soggy. The texture was just right, and the simple matsun sauce was the perfect complement.
We were then offered the dessert menu, in English, and proceeded to enjoy ourselves immensely. All of the ice cream is proudly noted as Baskin Robbins brand. You can opt for a "splendid potion" of various flavors, or fried Baskin Robbins ice cream, complete with a "testy crispy crust" (210 Rbs). There is also honey fondant, featuring a "light honey mouse" (220 Rbs). The muravejnik, or honey cake, was described as "a dessert made from short" (110 Rbs). Other noteworthy items include Italian "Philadelphia" cheese and Eral Gpey tea. The dessert menu was very sweet indeed.
Surok made her selections, which I promised to try, but I was too stuffed to order anything else after the tolma. Surok made the very wise decision to try the walnut preserves and quince preserves with some black tea. Anyone who is not allergic is urged to at least try the walnut preserves, which were not too sweet and not too nutty but actually just really a surprisingly nice, and rather unusual, treat. It is served with four young walnuts that don't budge if you poke your spoon at them, but are actually very chewy. Due to certain familial circumstances, Surok is a bit of an expert on quince preserves. While she had expected this to be something more like jam, and it was actually preserved fruit, she found it quite nice. She also tried one of the cognacs on the menu, the 6-year "Ani" (200 Rbs / 0.05L), which she found to be a fairly good, basic Armenian cognac, although she does tend to find Armenian cognacs a little sweet for her taste.
We found the service to be excellent over the course of the evening. There was no hovering whatsoever, which quite frankly I had been afraid of after the very informative "tour". The timing was right on, and our waiter was able to answer all of our questions. The manager kindly presented us both with a copy of Noah's Ark's own CD music mix, which is called something like "The Armenian wind instrument [duduk] in the music of world-renowned artists."
In conclusion, we enjoyed the evening and the dinner at Noah's Ark. Despite some slight culinary inconsistencies, this place gets a solid recommendation for friendly atmosphere, freedom from ear splitting music, and informative wait staff. We left content and well fed, albeit perhaps slightly more bruised from our very dashing entrance.
278.Assaggiatore  
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.
279.Shchisliva  
Shchisliva
The name? Well, it's an untranslatable weary pun, mixing the colloquial word for “bye!” with the name of cabbage soup. It's one of those extremely contrived jokes that you hate the moment you hear it, and it gets worse with repetition – particularly since “bye!” (rather than maybe “hello!”?) is weak name for any kind of eaterie. But though it's hard to swallow – we don't have to eat the name.
The location is superb – directly opposite the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum – if you'd come here two centuries earlier, the artist Tropinin would have been living next door, where he had his studios too. It's even located so that you can see an exhibition, saunter down the small side-street where the Museum's exit is located, and topple through the front door (take care when crossing the road, however). Unlike the Pushkin, across the road – which is mainly Western art, with a bit of Russian – Shchisliva mainly features traditional Russian dishes. However, they are served with a loving delicacy and lightness of approach, that you'd hardly recognise them if you've been bombarded with their greasy canteen counterparts. This is Russian food prepared with aplomb, and served with the aesthetic beauty the neighbourhood inspires.
They don't – yet – have a liquor licence, although they're allowed to serve you beer (they have a good range of international beers, in fact). If you want anything stronger, you can bring it yourself (a grocery street around the corner on Lenivka), and they charge a 500 RUB corkage charge per bottle. There's a range of home-made lemonades – the pear-flavoured one (250 RUB) was quite pleasant, and a large glassful, instead of the usual thimbleful.
The décor is minimalist-Scandinavian – primarily geometric pine furniture and avocado-green fabrics that add a probably unintentional 1970s feel to the place – you expect to see Diane Keaton waiting for Woody Allen to show up? And rather like Greenwich Village in the 1970s, you have to go outside if you want to light up – it's a 100% no-smoking venue, which suits me fine. Wi-Fi is free, has no fiddly passwords, and goes like the clappers.
Following our established pattern, Emilia cross-examined the waiter about the most complex and outlandish dishes on the menu - whereas I prefer to see how they cope with established classic dishes. The result is usually that Emilia gets left with some outré experiment while I tuck into something nice – but the tables were turned today! The idea of Anchovy in Spicy Battered Leaves of Sage (240 RUB) sounded like something from a fish-and-chip shop to me - but it arrived as elegantly light tempura-style wafers without a hint of grease to them at all. However, if I'd been expecting a Russian-Railways style “salat” (i.e. “leftovers in mayonnaise”), I was delighted to find that Salad of Herrings & Mustard Sauce with Cherry Potatoes (260 RUB) was a tangy and light collation, with lots of crispy Cos lettuce leaves, al-dente potatoes, and delicious herring as the magma core of this extensive volcanic portion. I particularly enjoyed the contrasting textures of crispy lettuce alongside smooth potato, and the mustard sauce was the tongue-tingling masterstroke that brought it all together. I could quite happily have cut straight to the coffee and the bill after that, and felt more than satisfied.
However, our lunch was only just beginning. Although Shchisliva was pretty full for a weekday lunchtime, service was enviably brisk and charmingly shy. With seamless refills of our drinks in hand, we'd decided to try a sampler portion of Okroshka (250 RUB) – Russia's beloved summer soup. It's usually assembled at the table, and can be made with either kvass, or kefir. We tried a little of both, and Emilia came down firmly in favour of the kefir version – which is home-made, the waiter confirmed, although the menu doesn't say so. Since Emilia is something of an okroshka maven at hope, it was a testing moment to discover if they could make it as she likes it? Happy smiles and eager enthusiasm resulted, and the restaurant's reputation was instantly confirmed.
On to the hot main dishes, and once again, I'd chosen a taster portion of two different dumpling dishes. Dumplings with North Sea Fish (440 RUB) were tender and very pleasant, but a bit monotonous on their own – they really needed the foil of some kind of side dish? However, the Fried Dumplings with White Oyster Mushrooms (360 RUB) were my star find of the day, and served in a creamy savoury sauce that sets new records for calorific content. As a Brit reared on my mum's pie and gravy, this was like a Freudian regression into childhood bliss - and I even minded my manners and didn't talk while I was eating it. Culinary satisfaction was in evidence on the other side of the table too – with the arrival of Home-made Smoked Duck with Mashed Parsnip (470 RUB). Although it looked a little bare on the plate, the duck was deliciously tender – although visually the decoration of cranberries might have been better replaced with some kind of jus of them instead? The parsnip easily won the Best Supporting Vegetable Award – creamy, buttered, and just the way your mum made them.
And at that point, we had to admit defeat. It had all been so delicious that we'd sent the plates back scraped clean of every last morsel. The desserts all sounded tempting - but they'd have had to send us home on wheels if we'd given in to temptation.
Shchisliva serves reliable, appealing food without any silly pretentions, in a pleasant and modern setting with attentive service. The prices are rather less than we expected for such a ritzy location, and the atmosphere is relaxed and laid-back, with no particular dress code at all. The strict non-smoking policy is slightly unusual for Moscow, but we found it a major plus.
Shchisliva has an appetising line-up of items for breakfast, and instead of a “business lunch” promotion it offers 20% discount on the entire menu from 12-4pm on weekdays.
280.The Apartment   
The Apartment, a restaurant-slash-bar along Savvinskaya embankment nearish Kievsky Vokzal, claims to be the first New York loft-style restaurant. Unlike many Moscow dining establishments vying for a title of “first in Moscow,” or “only in Moscow,” I believe this place actually lives up to its claims. I have yet to see any establishment comparable in design, service and lack of pretension. In fact, it already seems to be a big hit and it hasn’t even officially opened to the public yet. (Hint: taking the metro? Then I recommend catching a gypsy cab after crossing the fancy bridge - this is not a pleasant wintertime stroll.)
The owners based their concept on New York’s Campbell Apartment bar, but expanded it both in terms of space and what’s on offer. The space is huge, open, and divided into different 'rooms’; there are no walls, of course, in keeping true to the definition of 'loft.' Each 'room' has a slightly different feel about it, and the careful attention to detail in designing each space is something you just can’t help but notice (check out the bathroom!!). Some areas are more private, while others will place their guests in the center of attention - if they want; you can also opt to have the floor-to-ceiling curtains pulled closed. Some of the areas also boast a view of the Moscow River.
As the|apartment is not yet officially open to the public, the final version of the menu is not quite ready. Instead of making our own selections this evening, the chef, who is Russian but recently returned after 15 years of living and garnering culinary experience in France, came out to speak with us and let us know what was available that night. The cuisine style, we were told, is classical French with a twist. Now since the menus aren’t quite ready yet, there will be one important detail missing from this review: exact prices. When I spoke with Katya, the owner, she explained that the restaurant is aiming at mid-range prices, with dinner (without drinks) running at approximately $60-70.
We chose a table in the 'breakfast area.' I ordered a vodka tonic (served with Beluga vodka) and Mr. Polly started with fizzy water, and ended with a dry red. We were served a small appetizer of kalamata olives marinated in garlic, which was quite garlicky (I love garlic, though) and mixed well with the rich flavor of the olives. Next came our salads - a carefully presented pedestal of shrimp and mushrooms topped with mixed greens in light vinaigrette, crowned with four butterflied jumbo shrimp in a flavorful but light, Asian style sauce. This plate had the potential for many things to go wrong - the sauce, with its traces of teriyaki, could easily have been overpowering; the shrimp, as so often happens in Moscow, could have been overcooked after being defrosted, resulting in a mushy, smooshy mess. But the textures were perfect, the flavors intermingled just the way you'd want them too, and nothing was smooshy or mushy.
Next was a small trout salad treat. Now, ordinarily I’m not a big fan of fish, but I do make an effort to try new things. Well, sometimes anyway. We were presented with little cylinders of smoked trout bits carefully wrapped around broccoli florets. I can honestly say I was very pleasantly surprised with the gentle, non-fishy flavor of the trout, which is probably the most fish I’ve eaten in a very long time.
Next we were served our main entrees: French cut veal chops in a mild mushroom sauce garnished minimally with tiny potatoes and tiny stewed cherry tomatoes. While we probably would have appreciated a slightly more substantial side dish, everything was very nicely presented and packed with yumminess. The veal was definitely one of the most tender veal experiences I have ever had; the meat practically melted in our mouths, was juicy and went wonderfully well with the accompanying mushroom sauce.
After dinner, Mr. Polly asked for some black tea and a dessert: a delicate slice of parfait in 'fruit soup,' which featured fresh strawberries and rose petals. The serving size was just right - not too big - and the sweetness factor was just right, not overdone.
During our evening there, the staff was attentive and helpful, always keeping an eye on you in case you need anything. No hovering, no hounding - any questions we had were answered knowledgably and quickly, and we really didn’t have to wait very long at all for anything. For a place that hasn't even officially opened yet, the|apartment seems to have things up and running without any hitches. Frankly, I wasn't expecting the night to go so smoothly.
Other plans for this new Moscow experience include a fully decked-out wine boutique near the entrance downstairs. This space will feature 2500 wines - now that's an extensive wine list. Not only will the boutique feature wine tasting events, it will also offer many wines by the glass, so you won't have to splurge on whole bottles - unless you want to.
Music and entertainment is another important factor for The Apartment’s ambiance and style. Michael Adam of Buddha Bar fame has been brought onboard as music director, and he will perform at least once a month. There will also be live music (one of the first things to catch your eye as you walk in is the white baby grand on a raised platform near the welcome bar). Musical entertainment will predominantly be jazz, cabaret, and background-type music - nothing that’ll make you have to scream across the table in order to have a conversation.
And of course there’s this week’s special pre-opening Thanksgiving Day feast, thanks to the owners, who have spent several years in the States and know what it's all about. They learned to love our special autumn holiday and are now offering to share it with Moscow expats and their families. Note: I have been assured that Thanksgiving Day at the|apartment will be family friendly (i.e. kids welcome!). If you haven’t made your T-Day plans yet, definitely consider booking a table for this Thursday (23 November 2006).
In all, we both loved the way everything looked, the style, the unpretentiousness (a real rarity in this town!), and especially the enthusiasm of the staff and owners. This is one place we'd definitely like to go back to once the doors are open to all.
281.Laffa Laffa  
Having a Laffa
Moscow’s cafe culture has been transformed over the years: after years of over-priced ‘see and be seen’ affairs or mediocre fast-food chains a welcome range of new openings in the past 18 months or so has taken us back to basics. Finally the city is embracing a kind of street food culture that values quality cooking and fresh ingredients ahead of pafosny posturing.
Laffa Laffa is the latest in this wave. It has two sites – one on Malaya Bronaya, the other on Neglinaya – and specialises in Middle Eastern cuisine. That means plenty of hummus and falafel, two dishes that have recently become fashionable across Moscow, but the star of the show, undoubtedly, is the shawurma.
Whatever experiences you might have had with shawurma before, rest assured that this is far removed from the old-school kiosk food that has largely disappeared from the city as mayor Sergei Sobyanin cut his swathe through the dubious vendors thronging every metro station.
Here the emphasis is absolutely on quality: meat and veg are freshly sourced each day and the ‘laffa’ flatbread that gives the cafes their name is baked to order at blistering speed. It all takes a bit longer than a minute to put the dish together – not quite the fastest food in town, but a more than fair compromise between time and quality.
Although Middle Eastern in aim, the concept was inspired more by the 15 years the owner of the business spent living between Moscow and London. Like many people familiar with both cities, she noticed that one had a vibrant, multi-national culinary scene and the other had, well, dodgy kiosks next to metro stations or ultra-pafosny posing palaces with next to nothing in between. Laffa Laffa aims to fill that gap.
Key staff were recruited from Lebanon and Syria to ensure authentic recipes – head chef Ali Al-Tikriti comes from Lebanon with several years’ experience of restaurant in his native Beirut and in Dubai; many of his colleagues arrived from Syria. Zen has come up with a menu that is both simple enough not to risk running astray but sufficiently varied to ensure that either of the two cafes would bear regular visits from nearby workers heading out on lunch breaks. The signature shawurma can be served with lamb or chicken, or falafel for vegetarians. There’s also a choice of sauces, from traditional hummus to a seldom seen (in Moscow, at least) amba sauce, a fruity confection based on mangoes that goes especially well with the chicken. Although advertised as spicy, Western palates may feel it’s a Russian take on spice, but that arguably helps the flavour come out and complement the meat rather than overpowering it beneath a big hit of chili.
It’s also worth exploring the dips: aside from hummus, there’s a good selection of rich, smoky vegetable mixes that just cry out to be scooped up on a hunk of laffa bread and wolfed down. The mukhamara, with a nutty after-taste, is certainly worth closer inspection. Once again, it’s a menu with plenty of choice for vegetarians – another selling point in a city where meat-free dishes are not always very easy to find. At present menus are only available in Russian, and the staff’s English is somewhat nervous, but the choices are straightforward enough to suggest that a fairly elementary grasp of Russian will be sufficient to place your order.
Neither cafe is large, and the tend to have a busy, lively atmosphere – especially at lunchtimes. The décor, informed by the street food concept, has a pop-art, graffiti-like vibe that fits in nicely with the ‘urban-trendy’ audience. It’s some distance from the pastiche Middle East of Sindibad, the long-serving restaurant from that region; it’s a bit edgier and cooler than that, and there’s no sign of rugs, curtains or shisha pipes anyway to be seen. That’s not to say it’s exclusively a hipsters’ paradise: both branches have become popular with some locals, particularly the Malaya Bronnaya site, which is even building an audience among the privileged pensioners around Patriarshiye.
Will it be a success? It deserves to be. Prices are reasonable for city-centre eats; a shawurma snack is 310-390 roubles depending on filling, dips and sambusiki (small parcels of stuffed savoury pastry) are 250 a serving and the whole thing, complete with a coffee and maybe a nibble of pakhlava compares favourably with a trip to Starbucks, making it a competitive city centre option. Laffa Laffa is also starting out at a good time, capitalising on the popularity of the hummus and falafel stalls that did a roaring trade in city parks and food festivals during the summer and offering them a more permanent home.
Admittedly, we’ve seen a few food fashions come and go – the brief Tex-mex craze that flickered and then died on a pyre of rising rents and falling sales springs to mind – but this project has a more enduring feel about it. First, the commitment to high quality food augurs well. Second, it seems apt to expand an existing market rather than trade purely on novelty. And third, as the rapid rise in sushi bars has proved in the past and the rise of cheap-and-cheerful Georgian joints is currently demonstrating, it is possible to pitch for that middle ground gap here, even with foods traditionally associated with a full-on restaurant experience or an expensive foreign holiday.
282.Jolly Dog Pub  
In Search of a Jolly Dog in Moscow
Rarely do I venture further past two metro stations past the ring line in Moscow, unless I am going to an airport or on a train out of town. Call me lazy, but it is just the routine I have settled into. I don’t drive in Moscow anymore, don’t like paying more than 200 Rbs to get anywhere (because you pay the same amount or more back), and am either suffocated or frankly just depressed these days by the Moscow metro (especially after LA Times correspondent Megan Stack’s op-ed in The Moscow Times a few weeks back about stray dogs in the metro). So it took a little coaxing to venture to the VDNKh region to sample what I was informed to be an English Pub, the Jolly Dog.
A quick aside as I am always pre-occupied with names of establishments (“What’s in a name?”)… I am not a Brit, so may be missing some literary or pub culture reference every good Englishman knows, but Jolly Dog? On my way there I could not get out of my head the commercial jingle for “Lucky Dog” dog food as a kid in the US, and then - thinking about my daily rides in the metro – about how no dogs in this town are very jolly in the least (again, the op-ed mentioned above comes to mind). However, this pre-occupation with the pub’s name subsided to my pre-occupation with actually finding the Jolly Dog….
Jolly Dog is located in the north of Moscow, quite peculiarly located in the basement of a Ssang Yong car dealership – which is equally peculiarly located on a large meridian traffic island of an arterial interchange – just north of the RamStore off of Sheremyetevskaya Ulitsa (there is definitely a story behind the odd location that I still need to find out). Knowing all of this will actually help you find it with GPS accuracy, but getting there for the first time was a challenge that even Google maps on my iPhone could not help with. I took the metro to Timiryazevskaya with the intent of flagging a car, but ended up taking a marshrutka (an adventure my date of course just loved) as no gypsy cabs were in sight. Getting dropped off at the lonely cross street near the Jolly Dog was almost like an existential experience – comparing the address written on your crumpled piece of paper and the addresses on the surrounding buildings, I looked around and knew it should be there, but it was not. I felt cold and alone, and that my trip north had no meaning, but a friendly voice answering my call for guidance told me to head for Ssang Yong, who gave me hope.…
….and food, and a good beer. Descending into the Jolly Dog made me feel I was back in central Moscow again, and by some stretch of the imagination perhaps in a London pub. Lots of leather booths, varnished wood, and paintings adorning the walls quickly warmed my soul. Opening the Russian language menu (no English menu offered just yet), complete with the listings of exact metric proportions of each dish, I quickly found the drinks section and ordered a pint of Bowman’s (220 Rbs), while my Polish date ordered a Finnish Lapin Kulta (140 Rbs). Overall the menu could be considered an inspiration to Anglo-Russo relations, a harmonious compromise between the two where each seem to share a common cultural space. Not fully English, and not fully Russian.
Cold starters ranged from 140 Rbs (herring) to 350 Rbs (fish plate), with salmon carpaccio (260 Rbs) and cheese plate (350 Rbs) in between. We skipped the cold starters, though, as soon as we spotted a wide selection of yummy, greasy bar food – fried cheese (150 Rbs), nachos (180 Rbs), onion rings (150 Rbs), fried calamari (180 Rbs) as well as more higher-end bar food such as warm mussels (490 Rbs). We opted for the fried calamari rings, but regretfully did not try the sampler plate. The calamari came out within minutes, hot and greasy, albeit a bit over fried – but no matter as I was hungry; existentialism be damned – I felt alive with each greasy, fishy bite!
Salads were not your garden variety – literally. Most of the salads in the selection were made from some type of meat (I recall a tongue salad for 290). However, the salads that we did try – those that had some greens – were excellent and some of the best salads I have frankly had in Moscow. Really. My Polish date for the evening had the chicken heart salad (250 Rbs), and commented it was one of the best salads she has had since coming to . I had the Scottish salad, a delicious salad of greens, ruccola, goat cheese, and toast tips (290 Rbs) and was also quite impressed. The ruccola was fresh-picked fresh.
Already feeling quite warmed by the surroundings and excellent service, we skipped the selection of soups were (160-180 Rbs, standard fare of mushroom, chicken, pea, etc.) and moved on directly to the main courses which covered at least four pages ranging from basic club sandwiches (240 Rbs), homemade sausages (220-460 Rbs), seabass (950 Rbs), and pheasant stuffed with walnuts and red whortberries (brusnika) at 440 Rbs which was my first choice, but alas they were out of pheasant and unwilling to improvise with other poultry meats at my suggestion. The menu had a whole page dedicated to beef, including T-Bone steak (850 Rbs) and “21st Day Veal” (950 Rbs), a dish whose name I really don’t want to understand.
Like the good Polyachka she is, my date ordered the homemade sausages and said they were the best she has had east of Warsaw (again, neither of us are English, so London not our first point of reference). I felt a suddenly strange onset of Russophilia in the English surroundings, and opted for the chicken tabaka (250 Rbs). The whole chicken was succulent, moist, and most incredible of all – boneless! A whole, flat baked chicken before me, with barely a wingbone to gnaw on. My compliments indeed to the culinary talents of the chef.
I’ve read other recent reviews of new and tasty neighborhood restaurants opening up outside the ring that are worth a visit, and the Jolly Dog is indeed one of them. I still marvel at its most unique location, but once there you do indeed forget about how you got there (and how to get back). The food was extremely fresh, and the service very prompt and polite. The Jolly Dog maintains a bit of its Russian character, but is quite a jolly good place to go. Call ahead for reservations as they tend to book up days in advance on the weekends, and go ahead and book a taxi too.
283.Pasta della Mamma  
When we walked into Pasta della Mamma (R.I.P. Borgo) the first thing that struck me was that they hadn't changed the interior at all. It was exactly the same. This may not be a bad thing, but I thought it was a little odd. The interior is nice enough, and the atmosphere is calm and relaxed - no snootiness. But aside from that, there really isn't anything to add to (or subtract from) what was said about Borgo.
The menu was brief with a nice selection of very appetizing items. One difference here was that Pasta della Mamma's prices are lower than Borgo's prices were, but not always by very much. Rumor has it that the owners are now targeting a more middle-class clientele.
We both ordered fizzy water (90/210Rbs) and I also got a mojito (180Rbs). Although it was served in a giant glass, the mojito was a bit of a disappointment - fairly weak with too much lemon. There is also a wine list, Aleydis pointed out Marques de Cazares (crianza 2001 - 1050Rbs/bottle) as a recommendation should I decide to get my wine on. We both liked Pasta della Mamma's oval-shaped water glasses, which fit niftily into the hand.
For starters, I ordered the shrimp with garlic butter sauce (320Rbs) and beef carpaccio with parmegiano regiano (330) and Aleydis decided to try the grilled Portobello mushroom (420Rbs). Other selections were green salad with fried goat cheese (330Rbs), and bruscetta with asparagus and lemon (270Rbs). Although we didn't try them, some of the soup selections looked very tempting, such as cream of lobster soup with shrimp (330Rbs) and artichoke soup with truffled crostini (270Rbs).
Aleydis was more than happy with her grilled portobello. I have to agree - she let me have a taste and it really was very good. I was equally as happy with the beef carpaccio, which was mild, served with ruccolla and a nice amount of parmesan, and not too much oil or balsamic. However when the shrimp came, I asked Aleydis to try them as well, and we both agreed that better shrimp has been had. The sauce was nice enough (and there was a lot of sauce - they served the shrimp with a spoon for the sauce) but the shrimp were clearly not as fresh as they could have been, and thus they were a bit chewy and stringy.
When it comes to entrees, Pasta della Mamma offers a lot of the old pasta standards. Aleydis ordered the raviolis with ricotta and spinach (450Rbs), and I opted for the spaghetti carbonara (360Rbs). We had heard from other Expat.ru posters that the portions were supposed to be big. Pasta della Mamma's menu even has a special blurb announcing that carry-out is indeed an option, and that "doggy-bags" are no problemo.
Overall the service was very good. One poster on Expat.ru had noted that most of the waitresses were closer to middle-aged as opposed to young nubile thangs. We found this to be true for the most part, and decided they were probably really going for that "Mamma" feel.
Both of our entrees were underwhelming in their own ways. Aleydis explained that her ravioli (five very large ravioli) were too plain, and that the white sauce they were served in was also bland. She said they really could use something to spice them up, especially the spinach, which she would have liked to be tangier. My pasta carbonara was generally alright - not the best I've had in Moscow, but certainly not the worst by far. My main problem was that the pasta was a little too al dente - almost to the point where I thought it might have been a good idea for the cook to boil it for at least a couple more minutes. The sauce was nice enough, there was lots of parmesan (which I liked) and very, very thinly stripped bacon. Personally, I would have liked to see more bacon meat and less translucent bacon fat, but that's just me. Overall, it was pretty heavy, and yes, the portion was big. I could only eat about a third of it, if that.
Neither Aleydis nor I could finish our entrees, and there was certainly no room left for even thinking about dessert. As Pasta della Mamma is slightly more affordable, I would probably consider going back, but probably for the appetizers and not full entrees.
284.16 Tons  
Upstairs / Downstairs. But How To Dress?
Founded on 31st October back in 1997, 16 Tons is already an established expat hangout, and indeed I ran into a couple of friends there who were amazed that this was my first visit, citing the place as a "Landmark of Moscow". In fact this was my first visit to any pub here - and my, what a culture shock. It was really, really English, with its home brewed ale and dark green ceiling and inexplicable fake dead fish hanging on the walls.
Our waitress had clearly been briefed that we were coming, and she was immaculate, attentive, helpful and smiley. I spent some time peering round the stained glass which separated the table booths, trying to spy on other tables to see if they were receiving less attention, but no, it seemed they were also enjoying a similar level of service.
The menu offered a wide enough choice, without being too intimidating for the indecisive. For starter I opted for the Cream of Mushroom Soup (120 rbl) which came complete with its own little pot of croutons. Croutons always seem to make soup taste better. Natasha started with the Salad with Artichoke (250 rbl), described as a comforting yet fresh and healthy successful combination of ingredients. It was also the first artichoke salad spotted in Moscow, to date.
I have to say, being in a pub, I had a real craving for scampi & chips, but alas, this was not on the menu so I settled on a beautifully presented and very filling Fillet of Chicken, served under Ground Nuts Sauce with Cuscus and Vegetables (285 rbl). Natasha chose Pork Ribs on Birch Coal (330 rbl) which (stop reading vegetarians) was about the size of half a pig. Actually, it proved to be a little difficult to eat, but because by this stage we'd probably drunk too many glasses of French house red wine (130 rbl/glass) this didn't really seem to matter any more.
We finished our downstairs experience with coffee (50 rbl) and then mentally changed gear from English Pub to Moscow Underground Culture as we ventured upstairs past the glowering face control.
16 Tons, as well as being a pub and restaurant, prides itself as being an award winning live music venue. They have music upstairs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and sometimes also on Wednesdays and Sundays. They have a very strict music policy with rock, rather than pop, played at weekends, and more experimental music, such as electronic, playing on Thursdays. Indeed, when we were there, the legendary Russian artist and urban philosopher Evgeny Grishkovets was playing his latest things.
Despite the fact that 16 Tons is hardly a new kid on the block, it is still keen to further links with the expat community and I can see why. If you opt for an evening there, I recommend you do the whole experience. Go for some wholesome pub nosh downstairs before some alternative indi-bopping upstairs. Your only problem will be deciding what to wear.
285.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 Afisha.ru 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.
286.BQ Café  
BQ Café
It was on a dreary and rainy October when BQ Café (BQ) appeared in my crosshairs for a dinner review. As always, I checked out BBQ’s website before heading out the door – metro Novokuznetskaya, and an area of Moscow that I do not know well. Thus, I fully expected to have a minor headache locating BQ once on the street.
Much to my surprise, however, BQ is extremely easy to find, even in the dark and cold rain. Novokuznestskaya has one exit – go up the escalator, exit, walk across the courtyard, and BQ is immediately in front of you about 50 m on the corner, behind the small statue and benches.
My dinner date had to cancel on me at the last minute. I called several friends with an offer to join, but the notice was either too short or “I’m not in Moscow right now”, so, that being said, I entered the BQ pit alone.
Upon entering, I was cheerfully greeted and told to proceed to the second floor. There is a bar on the first floor and second floor, as well as large table seating areas. And, on Friday, BQ is a busy place – to say the least, the tables were full, and, as such, I would recommend making a reservation prior to arriving.
To be honest and to save you time reading – BQ is fantastic, and I recommend it without reservation. The atmosphere and design are enchanting, the service excellent, the menu moderately priced, and the food five-star.
What differentiates BQ most of all, however, is a piece of a three-year recurring dream for me – being able to browse the menu, order, summon your server, and request your check from an iPad! Not your own iPad, but, yes, BBQ will give you one of their iPads loaded with the current menu offerings, in Russian and English. If you are familiar with an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you will understand immediately how to browse. If not, your waiter or waitress will be more than happy to assist.
The software suite is well-thought out and including an easy switch between Russian and English is a huge plus. You click the “+” on the item that you want to order, and it goes into what is essentially your shopping cart. After making your choices, you push the “my order” button to see your shopping cart. From that screen, you can easily delete, add, or modify (through a text box) your order, and then send it. After your order is sent, your server will confirm it with you.
After slinking through the ordering process with ease, it was time to indulge in what I ordered as it came down the pike.
The first salvo was unfiltered BBQ microbrew beer (190 RUB, 500ml) and a pina colada (350 RUB) to complement my chicken quesadilla (410 RUB). Even if I was dining alone, I was still going to drink for two! The beer was flavorful and cold, the pina colada made Jimmy Buffet proud, and the quesadilla hungrily melted in my mouth.
The second salvo was the Spanish assortment of meats (850 RUB) from the Tapas Menu, mushrooms enoki wrapped in bacon (320 RUB), and eurovareniki (220 RUB). The Spanish assortment includes a wide array of tastes – Cheese Manchego, Marcon Iberico, Choriozo Iberico, Bayonne Ham, Stuffed Pappers, Green Olives, Croutons, and Lomo Iberico – and is one of the several Tapas plates that are great starters for a group meal.
The enoki mushroom dish is one of the “mushroom season” dishes being offered currently and was a refreshingly different taste served with fresh asparagus. I believe that the eurovareniki are available all year, and I enthusiastically recommend them. Served in a crisp housing of thin dough, they explode – simply explode – with flavor once you take a bite. On my return trip – and it will likely be this Sunday evening for live NFL football – I will definitely order the eurovareniki.
At this point in the meal, I was happily satiated, but I knew I still had my main course on the grill. I pushed the button on my iPad to summon my server, and politely requested a 30 minute break before the next salvo, as well as another BBQ microbrew beer (190 RUB, 500ml). I then sat back, read up on some news, and simply indulged in the staged changing from a sit-down restaurant to a dance floor restaurant a la Tema Bar.
The main course of BQ pork ribs and french fries (490 RUB) arrived on time and piping hot. I, however, was still on the sidelines satiated, so I pushed the button to request that they package it for me to take home. I can say that the ribs were excellent the next day for lunch since the sauce had soaked into them overnight. However, there are many attractive main course offerings on the BQ menu, and I will try something else on my next visit.
The total for the evening was 3020 RUB and is a bit skewed on the high side since I purposefully chose the 850 RUB tapas and indulged in a pina colada for 350 RUB. As such, a person can visit BQ for a fine meal and drink or two at a moderate price and indulge in the pleasant atmosphere that makes a person want to return again and again.
Atmosphere and other points to take into account:
BQ attracts a younger, hip crowd, so the music and surroundings reflect this; however, everything is done with good taste. The big screen televisions on my floor were showing a mix of sporting events and music videos, neither of which dominated my meal. I was told, as well, that the music and lighting changes several times per day – morning from 0800 to 1200 has a peppier, wake me up like coffee vibe, 1200 to 1600 is a mix of music to the 1990s, 1600 to 1800 is happy hour with a laid back feel, 1800 to 2200 is edgier cocktail, and from 2200 to the wee hours of the morning showcases a DJ or live music.
BBQ has free Wi-Fi and outlets that are the most readily available and numerous of any restaurant or café that I have seen in Moscow to date. This is a huge plus because BQ is a superb location for either a working dinner or after dinner wind down.
Happy hour is from 1600 to 1800 with attractive drink specials and replays of sporting events from previous days.
BQ offers a Weekend Lunch that is a rotating special menu from the chef for 1111 RUB that is enough food, generally speaking, for two .
BQ celebrates holidays – US, EUR, and RUS. For instance, Halloween runs from 21 October until 31 October, with thematic decorations and menu/bar offerings.
Loyalty card: Free with first visit and offers a 5-10% earned credit forward, not an immediate discount.
287.Sindbad   
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.
288.Chemodan (Suitcase)  
By the mid-C19th, central Siberia was booming. Settlers rights, unlimited free land, freedom for runaway serfs, and tolerance for religious minorities banned in European Russia were just some of the reasons...a gold rush, diamond mines, the post-road to Moscow, and rumours of untold and untapped riches had even stronger appeal. In place of shady taverns and shoddy flophouses, fine eateries and respectable hotels sprang up to cater to Siberia's new bourgeoisie - mine-owners, factory magnates, railway tycoons and families like the Demidovs, whose commercial interests ran far and wide.
“Chemodan” isn't just a Russian-cuisine restaurant – it's specifically a Siberian restaurant, with a menu featuring the freshest river-fish from Siberia's vast rivers and lakes, game dishes from the riches of the taiga forests, pickles and preserves featuring mushrooms and berries that barely even have dictionary names in English. In fact “Chemodan” in Moscow is a branch of the same restaurant in Krasnoyarsk. Well-known actor Oleg Menshikov visited the restaurant there and went in for supper – and loved it so much, that he decided to open another in Moscow. Very frequently movie-actor-owned restaurants are great ideas that fail to work in reality – but in this case, the established know-how and local Siberian expertise that made Chemodan a success in Siberia has transplanted superbly to Moscow.
The individual triumph of Chemodan offering delicious cuisine at medium-high prices (certainly not cheap - but you could easily spend double on dross in Moscow) and without the vacuous ostentation of its rivals. If you want to treat your visiting relatives or business colleagues to fine traditional Russian food, then this is the new pretender to the throne. No waiters in fake C19th livery, no hokum chandeliers, and no twaddle with calling clients “Milord” - this is honest, excellent cooking, on attractive plain white porcelain, with charming and personable multilingual staff in plain black shirts. The dining-room echoes upright provincial excellence of the mid-C19th – no nonsense, but very charming and atmospheric, and a welcome relief from the Theme Park interiors elsewhere. The food is served with quiet, confident pride and expertise – some of the staff are Siberians themselves. The table staff can tell you which rivers the fish come from, and what gives each recipe its special flourish. Restaurants further round the Boulevard Ring will be looking to their laurels – Chemodan will keep them on their toes.
On our waiter's recommendation, we took some house specialities as appetisers – but be warned, some of these dishes come in Siberian-sized portions, and a single appetiser would easily feed two. Emilia instantly warmed to the tenderness of the Venison Carpaccio (490 RUB), while I dived into a truly Siberian experience – stroganina, cold cuts of naturally-frozen fish. I'd had it before in Siberia with friends, but the Chir – translated on the menu as Blue-Back Salmon Stroganina, 590 RUB – exceeded all expectations. With an accompanying dipping sauce and seasoning, this was truly delectable eating – fat-free, carb-free, and guilt-free. In fact lightness, delicacies are hallmarks of Chemodan's menu, in sharp contrast to what you may have expected.
Although there's an extensive wine-list, I strongly recommend you to leave it unopened – the correct accompaniments to Siberian food are plain or flavoured vodkas, or the fruit-flavoured alcoholic tipples found in Siberian homes of the nineteenth century. The menu not only lists them, but gives an insightful account, in endearingly wonky English, of how they are made, and the lore and traditions surrounding them. Even long-term expat stalwarts are unlikely ever to have tried Erofeich – but these potent liqueurs were the staple of the Siberian table from the C17th onwards... and pack a powerful 56-percent-proof punch. A superlative accompaniment to my stroganina, in every sense! However, with ladies present we restricted our other drinking to the fruitier tipples with marginally lower alcohol content – Emilia's Honeysuckle Nalivka(196 RUB) – 26-percent-proof and coming in at a mere was pleasantly tart, while my own Blueberry Nalivka (180 RUB) was attractively and authentically sweet.
Salads aren't part of the Siberian scene, and probably we should have gone with the delicious-sounding soups on offer instead. Emilia had a Salad with slightly salted Whitefish, Avocado and Sweet Pepper (490 RUB) – nice enough if you wanted it, but rather out-of-place amid the Siberian specialities. This dish wasn't really too different from what you might make yourself at home. We had a few reservations about the limp green lettuce-leaves, however. They also topped my Warm Salad with Tiger Prawns, Mussels, Mushrooms under Garlic-Soy Sauce (690 RUB), but were only there for decoration, and I didn't bother with them. Once again, we'd blundered into ordering food that isn't Siberian – unless prawns now live there?
But things were firmly back on an even keel with our waiter-recommended main courses. Steamed Siberian Whitefish (890 RUB) is one of the most delicate things I've tasted in many a year. In fact it's been smoked before steaming, and was both succulently tender and sophisticated in taste - I could happily eat this every day. And once again – easy on the waistline, served with mouthwatering mushrooms. Emilia found her Grilled Cutlets of Siberian Stag (890 RUB) a trifle too pink in the middle – but you may find them to your taste, or might request them more well-done? Delicious aromatic black bread came on the side.
For dessert we shared a Walnut Soufflé, especially as the recipe came from “Exemplary Cuisine of Krasnoyarsk, 1892” - the source of quite a few other house specialities. To go with it while we had very pleasant espresso, and a pot of Guan Yin Iron Bodhisattva Tea (390 RUB).
Fine food, fine service, and a warm, relaxed atmosphere – what's not to like? All the ingredients of a memorable meal in Moscow are here – the only thing missing is you. Word is already out about Chemodan, and the place was packed when we went midweek - so be sure to book in the evenings. Or pop along for their 450 RUB Business Lunch (12pm–17pm) instead?
289.Maharaja  
Spice Girl - Alice Experiments with Indian
Maharaja was faced with a challenge: to impress two busy girls-about-town who weren't in the mood for a curry, both attempting that Lent Thing, that Weight Thing and that Wild Friday Night in Moscow Thing.
Once at our table, Natasha and I welcomed a few minutes to take stock of our surroundings. The atmosphere was civilised, friendly and surprisingly calm. With the exception of the unattractive (yet unobtrusive) chairs, the decor was unremarkable at first. After closer inspection however, I noticed some truly beautiful Indian items of furniture: chests, screens, pictures and frames, all intricately decorated. Maharaja has the potential to be truly classy. Admittedly it is still ever so slightly reminiscent of a local curry house, but such quirkiness is endearing, and it clearly doesn't deter the new-Russian clientele who were evidently enjoying the place; despite the fact that the restaurant was full; I could only spot one Indian patron.
Feeling so comfortable in our surroundings, we both immediately forgot about the Lent Thing and ordered an Indian Kingfisher Beer (125 rbl) and spent some time studying the extensive menu. (There were no less than 18 items listed under the "Vegetarian" heading, for example). Following a slight personal exposure to proper Indian cuisine, I was determined not to be satisfied with korma and a naan. So with the assistance of Rawat, the ever present and ever helpful manager, we were able to choose a varied selection of generally mouth-watering dishes.
I must say, there are few moments during the Moscow winter when, if you shut your eyes, you can imagine yourself wearing a bikini lying under a palm tree. Surprisingly, sipping the soft orange House Mango Shake (160 rbl) was one of them. A very good start. We then tried the tandoori prawns (660 rbl) and the machli tikka (450 rbl) which is a fish tandoor so tender you can slice your knife through it, no problem. The flavours were fresh and enticing yet the taste wasn't imposing. We also tried the samosa pirozhki (60 rbl) which were ever so slightly dry and floury.
For our main course, we opted for a base of plain pilau rice and peshwari naan, and accompanied these with three dishes. Palan paneer (320 rbl) which can best be described as lumps of white cheese in spinach (sounds revolting but I promise is addictive) and mung palan (450 rbl) which is chicken in the same spinach based sauce. We also sampled Baigan Bharsa (320 rbl), a weighty charcoal roasted aubergine dish which had a surprising amount of kick to it.
We had both asked for our food to be "a bit fiery but not too much". This request had clearly been taken on board because I didn't at any point feel challenged by the spiciness of the food, merely by the quantity (conveniently forgetting about the Weight Thing). Suffice to say we left happily stuffed and therefore incapable of furthering any plans to go dancing, thus Maharaja also succeeded in destroying our Wild Friday Night Thing.
Not that we were disappointed at all, on the contrary, Maharaja was a pleasant surprise. Any visit with a willingness to experiment against ordering the norm should ensure not only an education of the taste buds but also a change in curry house habits. Maharaja rose to the challenge admirably.
290.Verona  
I went into my local apteka the other day, and before I'd even been served - the place had been converted into a new restaurant. Actually that isn't true, but if the pace of restaurant-openings continues, you'll be able to get coquilles Saint-Jacques on every street corner, but not a loaf of bread. Who on earth goes to all these places? Surely there aren't enough diners in Moscow to keep them all in business? A huge number of them fail, of course - some because they can't attract and keep a regular clientele, others because the business-plan was worked out on a calculator with a key missing, but many because the owner-originated concept was rubbish to start with. The brief longevity of Moscow eateries is rapidly approaching parity with those in NYC - "still open after two years" is something of an achievement.
Can restaurants really buck this "wo-year lifespan" trend? With this in mind we set off this week to Verona, one of Moscow's most long-standing Italian eateries, whose genial padrone Enrico Caramelli has already clocked-up ten years of putting the cuisine of his native Veneto on the plates of Muscovites. Verona's location is as modest as its prices - tucked down an otherwise featureless street that most will know only as part of the Taganskaya one-way traffic system. And here was the first surprise on a midweek summer evening when you could have swung a cat in your choice of central Moscow's finest, Verona was packed? If we'd not booked a table, the only choice would have been the summer-dining area outside - and even brooding black clouds and thunder-rumbles in the sky found the tables outside pretty full too. A special occasion? "No, it's always like this, the regular customers come all the time - Russians, Italians, people who live locally, it's that kind of place" explains the charmingly shy owner. There's another factor that can't be coincidental, though - this is some of the best-value eating in town. Many of the (huge) pizzas go for under 200Rbs, and it was clear that a lot of the clientele weren't celebrating or entertaining - they were just getting supper on the way home from work. Verona is in the great tradition of Italian local family restaurants - it's not grand or pompous, the interior won't wow your new girlfriend, and the service is far from fawning you come here per mangiare - to eat.
The retro 50's Italian music was a little loud for a conversation, so we opted to risk the rain and sit outside anyhow. A salad Caprese (209Rbs) quick followed us outside - this is a place where people arrive hungry, and although the service lacks charm, it's ruthlessly efficient. Caprese is a salad that's almost invariably served indifferently - because there's almost "nothing to it" (slices of tomatoes and mozzarella), everything depends on the freshness of the ingredients, and this was sumptuousness itself, with some tangy basil and the lightest of dressings. If the piazzas are the glory of the city of Verona, then this Verona's glory is its pizzas. Enrico Caramelli has flown the flag for traditional thin'n'crispy pizza for over a decade, and his special pizza ovens are still in splendid condition if our Pizza Margherita With Rucola (189Rbs) was anything to go by? Yes, it's exactly that - a regular margherita pizza, with some rucola thrown into the still-melting cheese as it's brought to the table. If "margherita" means "the dullest cheap pizza on the menu" to you, then this is a revelation - there's a piquancy to the tomato sauce, the cheese is luscious, and the base is eminently munchable. We shared one - and there was still heaps. At which point the sky thundered more loudly - and we fled indoors whilst there was still a free table there to migrate to. Rather nicer, in my view, than the dining room at ground level is the basement area, which has been newly fitted-out. Phone early if you want to get one of the smart large low-level seating areas (of which there are only two). Don't be deterred by an unmarked staircase and an apparently secret door to this area - step inside, and it's charming, with no Godfather-style hoodlums whatsoever! These were all taken though - so we got stuck into our main courses upstairs.
The menu at Verona runs for pages - there are three pages of fish dishes alone, and even more for the meat entrees. After much indecision my dining associate plucked the Beef Medallions (299Rbs) from the meat courses. This turned out to be a wise choice, because the enormous pizza left us needing very little in the way of main courses (and you could cheerfully have done without). The verdict was "could be a little more tender, but they're delicious anyhow". I took a Swordfish Steak - one of the pricier items on the menu at 489Rbs, but worth every last kopek. Lightly pan-fried with the tiniest suntan of gold, some lemon juice was the only accompaniment it needed.
Heading towards midnight, the place was thinning out as we looked at the desserts - you have to be fairly tolerant of the staff dragging the veranda flowerpots indoors towards closing time. I was already comfortably well-fed at this point, but the corner I nibbled (purely for reviewing purposes, you understand) of my colleagues Tiramisu (120Rbs) proved it to be the real article indeed - a good strong coffee-shot and not stingy on the liqueur content amidst the cream and sponge. I'd intended to bring the curtain down with a double espresso, and I did - but at Enrico's urging, I was tempted to an iced liqueur shot of Limoncello. I was instantly hooked, and I'm already hunting a source for this wonderful stuff, simply the lemoniest alcoholic drink you ever tasted.
It's not grand, it's not imposing. Bring your business clients here - if you want to get a reputation as a cheapskate, that is. But the food is fab, and if you look at the price on the frozen disc of cheese-topped cardboard in your supermarket, it's no wonder they're packing-out Verona to have the real thing for little more (and no washing up either). If Woody Allen lived in Moscow - he'd eat at Verona.
291.Suliko  
If you go out for a nice meal in Amsterdam, then you eat Indonesian food, of course. In Berlin, you'll find the best Turkish food in the world, and there's no finer Indian cuisine than that served in Manchester. And in the same way, in a tradition rooted back in the soviet era, it's hard to go wrong in Russia if you go for Georgian food - the best-loved ethnic cuisine of the former USSR. Stories of Stalin's legendary all-night revels (he and his henchman Beria were both Georgians themselves) are already legendary.
Of course, the soviet days when only a few Georgian restaurants might reliably have any food available are long gone. Moscow is almost awash with Caucasian cooking - I've got a choice of three places within 100m of my house. It's hard to have a disappointing Georgian meal, however humble the establishment - the traditions of hospitality prevent it happening. However, with instructions from the Expat Site's latest glamorous assistant in hand, I trekked down to the other end of town in search of a "classic of the genre" - Suliko.
Suliko is anything but humble - it's grand and imposing, with that special combination of comfort and swagger that makes the Georgian heart pulse faster. The interior is uniquely Georgian - polished stone walls in different colours, bright lighting, whimsical carved wooden beams, the obligatory fountain flowing from the mouth of a clay urn. If the decor says anything at all, it says "this has cost a stack". The welcome is warm but politely muted - they're there when you want them, but they stay out of your face. Everything is pristine, and Suliko would make the perfect place to entertain visiting clients who've been emailing you to ask if they ought to bring their own soap or perhaps some food supplies. Even the most cautious faultfinder would visit Suliko without a new tale to tell afterwards. It's not only appropriately grand in style - there is something slightly soviet about the expansiveness of the place - but there's another handy benefit too. If your cautious clients are boring you to death, just position yourselves in the rear, larger dining-hall -“ and a live and rather dominating floorshow of Georgian singing will spare you from having to listen to any more of their stories. If, on the other hand, you actually want to be able to hear them, then request a table in the first hall instead.
The convivial style of Georgian eating lends itself best to dining in small groups. A meze of hot and cold starters is laid, and this is, in effect, the main part of the meal. Somewhat later - in fact quite a lot later sometimes - a hot main course will appear, but very much in a supporting role to the delicious selection of appetisers and starters you've already had. These are not cleared when the main course comes (unless you've finished them - which is unlikely, given the portion-size) - the main course simply arrives as reinforcements, just when you thought you were finally making some indentation on the starters.
This point is especially worth bearing in mind when looking at the prices. The financial outlay on the starters might seem out of balance - but considering that a single main course, without side-dishes, will then be easily enough for two, the final bill is not the shock you first feared. Even so, Suliko is overtly catering to the well heeled, so if you need to impress - this is the right place.
It's very easy to over-order, or to pick too many heavy items - so we took the waiter's advice, and still over-ordered. The adjapsandal (spicy tomato stew) (250Rbs) was juicy and lush, with lots of fresh bite left in the tomatoes. One of the selection of Georgian cheeses (450Rbs) was extremely salty, so the adjapsandal came in handy - as did the deliciously chewy Georgian lavash bread, which is rather similar to ciabatta in texture. My own personal favourite amongst the starters were the Aubergines Stuffed With Nuts (200Rbs) - melt-in-the-mouth tender, but not greasy in the slightest, and lightly flavoured with cardamom.
Frankly, in terms of amounts, this would already have easily been enough for the two of us. However, because Georgian food is traditionally served with a huge variety of dishes on the table, we'd been encouraged to order more dishes - and they were, it's true, excellent companions to those we already had. The problem, in a nutshell, was not too much food - but too few diners to consume it. If we'd been Georgians, of course, we'd have arrived with a whole extended family to tuck into it all.
Some satsivi (300Rbs) came next - another Georgian classic, filleted cubes of chicken served in a Circassian sauce - ground walnuts, garlic, onion, ground coriander, and some more garlic, and left to marinade (it's served at room temperature). It's on this kind of dish that Georgian restaurants divide into the men and the boys - Suliko's manhood was unquestioned, and the chicken pieces were soft tender top-quality fillets. Lobio (180Rbs) has been a vegetarian lifesaver in Moscow since the Brezhnev era at least, and Suliko's is a hearty bean stew served in an individual clay pot.
Another great Georgian tradition is vegetable pates (300Rbs for a selection-plate of three different pates), and Suliko's are some of the best. One was based on beans and garlic - another had tiny baby carrots in it.
Georgia is - as any Georgian will tell you - the home of the grape, and claims to be the first country where wine was made. Almost certainly you've already tried the worst of Georgian wine - it turns up at parties where Russians seem to love the thin, acerbic yet semi-sweet reds. It doesn't have to be like this - if your taste is more for a French-style red wine, then pick a nice Saperavi. The more robust body of Saperavi is the perfect accompaniment to Georgian food. Suliko also serve wine by the glass if you prefer.
Finally, when you have chatted, and idled, and nibbled at all the starters, and listened to the musicians, comes the main course. We shared a single main course and there was still heaps left over - tsiplyata v ezhevichnom souse, chicken in a loganberry sauce (500Rbs). Brought to the table in its terracotta casserole, the outside is as crunchy as the inside is tender.
Suliko is the perfect set-up for upscale Georgian, and your mission - if you choose to accept it - is to find the right occasion and group of diners to enjoy it. It's not especially cosy, and you'd feel a bit exposed there on a lover's tryst. But if you have foreign guests over - especially if they already sick of sour cream and accordions - it would be a super treat for corporate-level guests that offers them a cuisine they'll not have tried elsewhere.
292.Solyanka  
Not the Solyanka Your Mom Made
I’ve frankly never been fond of the word solyanka. Perhaps it’s the phonetic way the word seems to crudely roll off the tongue when pronounced, or perhaps it brings back those lingering memories from the mid-90’s as a Russian language student living in St. Petersburg and asking my host mom what’s for dinner, only to hear again that it would be a solyanka of some mysterious sort. As in most kitchens across the world, solyanka – or stew – is merely a recipe to throw in a pot whatever you can find around the kitchen along with a pinch of salt, a bay leaf and some parsely. In my time I have fished out from various solyankas various inedible parts of a chicken including a foot, the inevitable sharp chip of bone, a roach, and even once a bolt.
Thus I accepted the invitation to go the new restaurant-bar-club in lower Kitai Gorod with keen curiosity yet perhaps some subconscious trepidation. Still, it was close to my apartment and I needed a good meal. I had recently recovered from food poisoning from a recent trip to Sochi for the recent gargantuan economic forum where everyone is goo-goo and ga-ga for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the gilded dreams of the buckets of money that comes with it (the culprit being a hotel restaurant; a notoriously worse offender than a rynok shwarma stand no matter how many stars on the hotel’s lobby wall). I was still a bit bleary eyed from the late nights at the “unofficial nightclub” of the forum (a surreal Mad Max-meets-Waterworld-meets-Dubai oil & gas themed club built on a mock offshore oil platform, complete with working oil derricks) and a bit weak from multiple days of a monotonous bread and white rice diet, so I was looking forward to having some real food and moving past my hang-ups over the club’s name – but knew that another chicken foot would do me in for good.
However, just seeing the sign for the club seemed to provide some reassurance. Just the font styling of the word solyanka in silver letters, something that seemed to resemble the old Zil label of the old Soviet party cars and ubiquitous Soviet refrigerators, showed some thoughtful design and intellectual ironic flair, a telltale of a smart and creative management - and hopefully cooks - that appreciate the details.
And indeed just the details of the restaurant interior design require some appreciation here. To be fair, solyanka does not just mean “stew” in the strict food sense, but more of a “mix” in broader descriptive terms. In this case solyanka means eclectic – very eclectic. The location is an old late 18th century kupecheski merchant’s mansion, with tall windows and antique ceilings. However, despite this neo-aristocratic setting the interior concept instantly struck me as a modern triangulation of So-Ho, Havana, and London. I think I was somewhat near the mark as the publicity director who came by our table described the place as a convergence of Miami, London, and a classic St. Petersburg apartment.
This seemingly pretentious mixture was balanced out and grounded with a crazy assortment – yet tasteful selection - of used furniture that could have come from Craig’s List, and in fact may inspire fond recollections of that old favorite couch you once had in the basement. The full space had approximately 4-5 rooms, with not one room or chair matching, and even each toilet room in the progressive unisex bathroom was wallpapered in a completely different style (yes, I actually checked). And, like a giant Transformer robot, the main room goes through a metamorphosis at 11pm – changing from an eclectically designed dining area to a theatrically lighted club dance floor complete with a stage and a wall of speakers and video screens. Somehow all of this ad-hoc yet well planned eclectic design concept works, earning kudos to the club’s designer who took the name and theme solyanka stylishly to heart.
And that’s what is so special about Solyanka – a theme that both subtly and surprisingly works. It is a restaurant, club, bar, clothing store (still unsure about that element), and gallery – all wrapped up in a packaging of different color wrappings and ribbons. I could have sat there for a while sipping on my beer (200 Rbs) admiring these details, but the menu of course deserves some mention here, too, as the food was the original intent of my visit and my writing here. I did see solyanka on the menu, although the menu itself is rather a solyanka of different cuisines ranging from Thai (-ish) with a peanut and coconut milk soup with crab meat (360 Rbs), an attempt at Southwest fusion with a chicken and mango quesadilla (230 Rbs) to reliable Russian standbys such as beet vinaigrette (190). However, before digging into these and other goodies, the waitress brought out cut carrot sticks, each in its own shot glass of very flavorful ginger sauce, to whet our appetites as compliments from the chef. A basket of bread then came out along with arranged buttered spoons – cleverly arranged silver spoons full of creamy butter – as another unique prelude to the meal, which made me feel as we were getting a bit buttered up ourselves.
I was in desperate need of flavor after days of bread and rice, and the Thai peanut and coconut milk soup with crab meat delivered in that department. The soup indeed had real crab meat, confirmed by the occasional bit of crab shell, and was quite tasty – albeit a bit salty and a bit thick. The chicken and mango quesadilla fell a little short of the mark as the mangos were not yet ripe enough for cooking, making them a bit bland and too firm. My date – who by the way was not so enamored with the hip collection of Craig’s List furniture but rather hooked by the in-restaurant clothing boutique “Twins” (yeah, really owned by twin sisters. Go after you eat, otherwise you may not have money for even a buttered spoon) – seemed satisfied with the vinaigrette, although it is hard to go wrong with that recipe but still challenging to make it too exciting (unless you throw in some goat cheese and pine nuts like one yummy restaurant in Moscow, nameless here).
For main courses we perused through the seafood items with interest including dorado (460 Rbs), steamed salmon (330 Rbs), and tuna steak (170 Rbs), quickly skipped over the pig leg (270 Rbs) and rib eye (680 Rbs), and settled on the risotto (280 Rbs) for the fashion loving lady and black squid ink spaghetti (490 Rbs) for the funky-furniture loving gentleman. The risotto was quite good but square and just a small step up from my recent rice recovery diet. I still am not sure what to make of the spaghetti as it seemed to be a combination of the soup and appetizer I had just ate. There was peanut sauce, bits of crab meat and crab shell, cilantro, and I swear some unripe pieces of mango. Was this actually the chef’s special solyanka by another name?
I admire bold and innovative dishes and the chefs that create them (we were told the chef had worked at the Hyatt Ararat), but this mixed solyanka was not as successful as the mix of interior decoration surrounding us. My taste buds were still feeling a little uninspired, but were awoken by an excellent vanilla creme-brule for dessert that had a perfect crispy, caramelized blow-torched crust. Yum.

We stuck around for a while to see the place transition from restaurant to nightclub. When we arrived at 8pm we were nearly the only clientele, but around 11pm people began trickling in. Given the relative emptiness inside at the time, we were a bit surprised to see a long line outside when we finally left outside the velvet rope. Yes, even a place with a name like Solyanka prides itself in its face control.
I left Solyanka more impressed with the interior and concept than the kitchen, but have already made it a local stop for drinks and creme-brule. Definitely worth checking out when in the Kitai Gorod area, even if for a business lunch (270 RBS) on weekdays if you have some business in Kitai Gorod other than clubbing on the weekends. Solyanka – a great club that knows life is in the details, and not afraid to experiment with peanut sauce. Thursday - hip-hop night, Friday - techno, and Saturday - Nu-Rave. See you there.
293.Expeditsia  
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
robertgollings@hotmail.com
294.Golden Apple  
The great empires of antiquity clashed over a Golden Apple - the incident in which King Priams son Paris gave one to the Goddess Aphrodite prompted the Trojan Wars. And it was way back when Ajax and Agamemnon were still in short pants that if you wanted supper in Moscow, you went to a hotel to eat.
Positioning itself as Moscow???s entrant in the Hip Hotel stakes, the Golden Apple is a shrine of funky chic, tucked delicately off Pushkin Square on Malaya Dmitrovka. Could the Apple Bar & Restaurant flout the Road Warriors credo that the dullest supper in town is in your own hotel?
In a city already crammed with stuffy hotels modeled on Elvis Presley's bathroom the unrepentant modernism and contemporary lines of Golden Apple makes a welcome change. Strange then that the decor for the restaurant is an odd backdrop of silhouetted woodland at dusk? After the sleek modern minimalism of the lobby, this creates a more informal and restful dining area for those dining for pleasure.
The bar area (same menu available in both) reflects a more urgent and metropolitan mojo, and since all the tables there were taken we opted to dine in the woods. There are around twenty tables overall with a ratio of wait-staff to diners that is admirably generous.
And what staff they are, too...extensive knowledge of the nuances of the entire menu and seasonal specials with enviable command of stylistic English - a perfect balance between enthusiasm and helpfulness. Nor was there any cajoling towards the high-end dishes or wines, or to over-order. Whilst we pored over the menu a complimentary gazpacho cocktail appeared ??? piquant and very pleasant.
Apple Bar features a permanent menu of international dishes alongside a Specials menu that changes monthly. July???s theme was summer fruits so I pitched in with a Fruity-Cool cocktail (350 Rbs) that slipped down so easily that I had another before really noticing how potent the blend of vodka, banana liqueur, and fruit brandy was. Equally powerful was my friend Olga???s Cosmopolitan (280 Rbs) - but its concentrated intensity didn???t hit the mood, and it languished unfinished.
The prompt and cheerful service quickly rustled-up two contrasting salads alongside some delicious home-baked bread. Olga munched happily on a Crispy Frisee Salad with Deepfried Seafood on a Rasberry Coulis (360 Rbs), pausing only to lament the fate of the junior octopuses therein. My own salad was a shameless splurge, but worth every kopek of 750 Rbs for the self-righteous glow achieved from near-fatless Lobster-Mango Salad. A Classic Mojito came along (for 390 Rbs) to replace the unappreciated Cosmo, and this prompted the order of wine for the main courses. As usual our ideas on choosing red or white differed - but Apple Bar has a good selection of wines by the glass. With a beef entree in view Olga went for a luscious Concha y Toro Trio for just 240 Rbs. My white was 2005 Tavel Prestige des Lauzeraies with elegant crispness as a counterpoint to fish, but since I was already three sheets to the wind after the deadly Fruity-Cools - and moreover because the wine was 380 Rbs per succulent glassful - I limited myself to just one, with healthy gulps of Evian alongside.
We moved on to the entrees, and Olga followed the waitress's strong recommendation for the Entrecote (800 Rbs), which came magnificent presented with coriander and black pepper, with a gratin of potato and mushroom If you prefer your steak well-done then remember to ask them - the default order is lightly seared only. My misgivings that Salmon + Cod Baked in Filo Pastry (680 Rbs) might be dry were unfounded some nice Hollandaise kept things agreeably moist, and all light and delicate enough to leave space for dessert.
Following her more classical theme Olga chose a Classic Baked Cheesecake - a dish that is often dehydrated tvorog on toast in Moscow, but this one was spot-on for 250 Rbs. The same asking-price brought some very good marinated figs and the curtain came down on some Margentau loose leaf tea (160 Rbs) and my habitual Double Espresso (210 Rbs).
Clearly the menu-pricing is aimed at Business Travelers - and these were clearly 90% of our fellow diners. However the contemporary decor - and welcome absence of blaring Russian pop - earmark Apple Bar as an ideal place for continuing business discussions over an elegant supper. When entertaining clients the last thing you need is wrangles with the waiters, and the super service here makes it a strong recommendation on that score.
295.Don Pedro  
In a metropolis like Moscow where there are as many restaurants as there are Mercedes Brabus parked in front of them, it is unfortunate that I can only count a handful of eateries I would consider frequenting on a regular basis. I am pleased to say that the newly opened Don Pedro is one of them. Though this establishment has been deemed a cafe by the management, Don Pedro can give most of the "full fledged" restaurants in this town, a run for their money.
With a Spanish sounding name (the menu consists of French/Italian influenced dishes), an interior of "minimal, stylish gothic" (check out the futuristic wood burning fireplace!), the handsome golden sarong-shirted waiters, and the menu consisting of dishes with names such as Notes of a Hunter, your first impressions would likely be of yet another restaurant with an identity crisis, but everything seems to work in Don Pedro's favour.
Due to the fact that the perusal of the menu seemed to take an age, our waiter not only agreed to provide us with numerous "tasters" of dishes we wished to try, he then continued to describe each one with considerable knowledge! An establishment with proficient & friendly serving staff, quite a shock considering the usual scowls or blank stares I get from most waiters around this town.
My dining partner & I ended up ordering 4 salads, 2 cold & 3 hot starters, 2 soups, 2 entrees and 2 desserts....and let's not forget the mixed basket of fresh breads and the miniature individual butter dishes with silver domed covers that accompanied our meals.
If I was to write in detail about every dish we dined on, this would be far too long a review, so here were those we thought extremely worthy of mention: Of the 15 (!) dishes we tasted - and let me tell you that they were served in their full sizes not as amuse bouche as was expected - I was impressed with the concept of the cold starter "Sentimental journey", a modern take on the old standby at any Italian restaurant, prosciutto & melon - at Don Pedro these two partners in crime were paired with thin slices of passion fruit and lemon ice cream, which gave this dish a fresh, acidic, palette cleansing flavour. The Beef Tartare was of an excellent consistency, and wonderfully spicy - thank god that chef Edwardo shows this classic dish its due respect instead of just viewing it as "raw meat and egg", as many here in Moscow tend to do. My dining partner and I both raved about the aubergines with goat cheese/parmesan sauce and I loved the subtle flavours of the foie gras, bite size pieces served with raspberries - the most difficult thing in the world is to make things simple, and that is exactly what this dish was, simple presentation, wonderful taste.
Though Don Pedro has a lunch menu - 5 courses, 190 rbls - I would eat here almost everyday just for the soups!!!! The French Onion Soup, with it's smoky flavour and the slice of baguette with melted Gruyere was yet again simply but lovingly prepared and the Seafood Soup, with it's ochre colour, creamy texture and decorated with fried octopus slices and 1 oyster in the shell, was both tastefully prepared and had my dining partner raving for 10 minutes.
Of the 2 entrees we tried, "A Domani", the lamb chops which were cooked to pink perfection and served with a spinach and rice/wild rice mould, were tender and flavourful, and the duck was crispy, though could have been a little less tough. Lovely honey & berry sauce though. We barely had any room for dessert by this time, but we managed a few spoonfuls of the substantial Tiramisu - which was light, creamy and wonderful - & the Cheesecake, which we decided was more NY style than your normal, baked with -crust kind. A good choice for those who prefer A LOT of cream in their desserts.
My only qualm through the whole dining experience was the use of Russian Salad in 2 of the salads we ordered - not my idea of the French or Italian kitchen - and a lack of seasoning in a couple of the dishes. In any case it was an enjoyable experience.
The prices for all these substantial dishes range from 120 rbls - 200 rbls for salads, cold & hot starters, the Beefsteak being the most expensive meat entree at 750 rbls, and the Dorado Baked in Sea Salt being the most expensive fish entree at 550 rbls; we unfortunately didn't have the capacity to try the pasta or fish dishes, next time hopefully. The wine list consists of Chilean, French, Georgian wines and is surprisingly wallet friendly, instead of making you want to laugh hysterically when you peruse the prices. The house Sauvignon my dining partner tried was 750 rbls for the bottle - unfortunately there isn't a huge choice for wines per glass, but with the prices being so down to earth, that isn't a setback.
All in all, a very good dining experience in a casual, friendly environment. Don Pedro is well worth a visit - or two!
296.Food Embassy  
Celebrity chefs are steadily taking over the world’s eating habits – and Russia is no exception. But it’s not all about high profile openings from international brands, like Jamie Oliver’s recent arrival in Moscow. There’s also a strong batch of local contenders, with celebrated actress Julia Vysotskaya leading the way.
Vysotskaya comes from the ‘yummy mummy’ school of cookery, one of those domestic goddesses who manages to whip up delicious looking food on long-running TV shows while still looking effortlessly gorgeous in the process. The brand, which has long encompassed cook books, culinary tourism and signature kitchenware, also powers the Food Embassy restaurant – one of the flagships of Moscow’s post-pafosny food revolution.
The Vystoskaya brand seeks to promote an idealised yet attainable life – and that principle is obvious from the approach to the restaurant. It fits well into the switch in focus in the city’s dining scene, where an exaggerated homely vibe is steadily – and thankfully – replacing the overdressed to impress venues of recent years. As such Food Embassy, with its plain wooden interior and artfully arranged ‘babushka’s dacha’ knick-knacks cleverly plays on the illusions of what life might be like for Moscow’s middle class if it wasn’t stuck in cramped apartments in a sprawling metropolis. Even the weekend entertainment for kids is aspirational – clowns and balloons replaced by classes in Oshibana, a Japanese art of making pictures from pressed flowers, leaves and seeds. Large windows, lots of natural light and views of a botanical garden from the upper levels complete the effect – it’s not an unattainable Rublyovka mansion, it’s just a slightly nicer version of the family ‘cottedzh’ you might be able to afford yourself.
That’s very much the charm of the place. The menu, which has echoes of a gastro-pub that perhaps reflect the legacy of the English chef who helped set up the kitchen here, offers dishes that are interesting, and more complicated than you could be bothered to cook for yourself, but that nonetheless don’t leave you feeling lack a slack-jawed yokel in the presence of great sophisticates. And, after all, if you enjoy your dinner you can always buy the book, keep it in your kitchen and never quite around to recreating the feast for yourself.
Most importantly, though, the food is excellent. Whether the image strikes you as sublime or ‘Stepford Wives’, there’s no arguing about what arrives on the plate. The Rabbit in the Woods looked terrific, with a green foam of pureed fennel and clusters of berries creating a sylvan backdrop for the meat. And what meat! Tenderly cooked to perfection, sliding off the bone at the first touch of a fork and melting in the mouth. The recipe books, no doubt, suggest that this is straightforward; experience shows that serving any meat like this demands a chef on top of his game.
That dish alone would be worth returning for and its quality suggests that the rest of the menu deserves greater attention. However, the supporting acts also justified their place on the cast list. Warming, nourishing soups for the winter months – the Creamed Pea and Smoked Ham Soup was a rare treat, especially for someone who isn’t a big soup lover. A diverse range of salads that combines local favourites – herring, beetroot and potato could hardly be more stolidly Russian without being slathered in mayo – and international hits. That doesn’t just mean yet another Caesar; the list also includes Food Embassy’s take on the flagship Cobb Salad inspired by the famed 192 Notting Hill restaurant in London.
The drinks selection is also worth browsing – and this is a place that takes care to offer a good range of non-alcoholic drinks as well. My wife was intrigued and impressed with a halva-flavoured coffee, setting aside her common grumble that coffee should taste of coffee (and, by implication, halva of halva) for this unusual but effective combination. The ginger lemonade, a fairly common feature on Moscow menus, was also one of the best examples I’ve tried: a refreshing lemony kick to start with and a slow, warming tang of ginger in the after-taste rather than the oversweetened, under-flavoured offerings found elsewhere. For a lunch meeting or a designated driver, the soft drinks menu is a winner; for those on the booze, the cocktails come with a good reputation.
There’s an extensive terrace and, as mentioned above, it’s next to the botanical gardens on Prospect Mira. With our long-awaited spring finally looking like it might be here to stay, Food Embassy is coming into its own as a place for good food in the open air and is definitely worth checking out for a lazy weekend lunch or a convivial catch-up dinner with a group of friends.
297.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.
298.Dome  
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 Expat.ru 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.
299.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.
300.Syr (Cheese)  
Relaxed and grown-up Italian restaurant where the food is the centre of attention.
Arkady Novikov has eateries where it’s all about you (Vogue Cafe). And he has eateries where it’s all about him (Galleria). But before either of those came Syr, where it’s all about the food - and still is. Almost everyone knows where CHEESE (“Syr”) is – you can’t miss it as your taxi trundles past on the Garden Ring, it’s the place with the model of a chunk of cheese on its roof. (They really should consider taking that thing down now). But yesterday’s young cheese is today’s vintage classic, and Syr has not just moved on with the times, but led from the front. The recently remodelled interiors are joined by an elegant staircase – cheese-themed on the ground floor, the last word in subdued post-modern elegance and contemporary chic upstairs.
As the urbane General Director, Albert Danielyan, puts it succinctly – “at Syr, everything is harnessed to presenting fabulous food. The choice of ingredients, the range of the menus, the decor, the furnishings… nothing takes away from the food, and the delicate harmony in each of the dishes. It’s unusual, almost unique, for a contemporary Moscow restaurant – we eschew glamour in favour of gastronomy, and we don’t apologise for that.” He isn’t joking. Every millimetre of glam and glitz has been carefully excluded in favour of subdued and understated contemporary design. Syr is a modern theatre, where the food is the spotlight, and the diners are the audience.
But neither is Syr an ascetic foodie temple either – a subtle and sophisticated welcome awaits. I stumbled through its doors on the hottest day of the year, with the mercury showing +37C and my face the colour of gazpacho. I was also my habitual seven minutes late – for a dinner-date who doesn’t appreciate being kept waiting. Some iced water and some towels appeared without beckoning, along with the suggestion of sitting upstairs – “M’sieur will find it rather cooler”, they smiled. Marusya, fortunately, was held-up in traffic, and by the time she arrived I was the very picture of calm composure. This all afforded the chance to visit the swanky loos, and cast an initial eye over the menu – with the Summer Special Menu delicately mentioned by the waiter.
The aperitifs appeared considerably before the story of the delayed arrival was done, and we settled comfortably into a corner table, with air-conditioning set sensibly to “pleasant ambient” rather than “Ice Station Zebra”. The Forest Berry Crush (380 RUR) had an almost miraculous mood-restoring effect on Marusya, whilst my rather staid choice of a Classic Mojito (440 RUR) was a mixologist’s manna, and hit the spot most neatly. A selection of breads (wheat rolls, sumptuous rye-bread and some lavash) came in a stylish paper cone, with hot toasts and dips to savour. With carbs and oils declared persona non grata by Marusya, the perfect appetiser came from the Summer Menu – Scallop Tartare with melon, asparagus and limoncello (1200 RUR), and the mouth-wateringly fresh flavours proved a perfect balance. I was having none of that, and tucked in to Avocado & Artichoke Salad (860 RUR for a gigantic portion – which went very extremely well with the bread). Feeling somewhat chastened by Marusya’s noble self-denial, I followed suit and chose a Gazpacho Chilled Soup (560 RUR), which came with a free portion of smugness. Doing that “you try a bit of mine” thing, I have to say I regretted missing the Summer Celery Soup With Egg & Truffle (960 RUR) – which is a sort of orgasm in a bowl, and probably shouldn’t be served to under-18s. Of course at that price it ought to be stupendous too – and this doesn’t disappoint.
And here we took a pause to refill our drinks, ask for some more water, and quietly digest what was merely Act One of the performance. The entire culinary drama is the brainchild of Novikov star chef Mircko Zago, whose route to Moscow lay through Aosta, Gstaad, Rome, and Verona. His culinary daring has won him awards in Italy, where he is well-known on television. His work creating banquets for the Russian Presidency, however, was an appropriately more discreet affair. In addition to his work at Syr, Mircko Zago has been the Consultant Chef on many other new Novikov restaurants – including Galleria, Cantinetta Antinori and Nedal’ny Vostok.
Meanwhile, our main courses – presented with artistic beauty on fine white porcelain – came speeding from the kitchen. One of the best features of the finest kind of service in a restaurant is that you hardly notice it happening around you – you can leave your semaphore manuals and signalling coughs at home. Marusya’s eye had fallen on the Medallions of Beef with Thyme (1300 RUR), and they were every bit as tender as the waiter had faithfully promised. My usual habit of choosing the gonzo main dish from the menu was fustrated – there are no duds here, and Grilled Scallops with Mediterranean Ratatouille were worth every last rouble of 1600 RUR.
But.. where was the cheese? I’d had none so far, and decided to pass-up on the desserts in favour of putting the cheese-board to the test. There’s gorgonzola and gorgonzola, (300 RUR) but this was tantalisingly good, and any wistful regret for the tempting pannacotta instantly passed. Meanwhile, however, all the good intentions across the table that had marked the earlier stages were now thrown to the wind… a Raspberry Millefeuille (700 RUR) was heartily consumed in short order, with a growing chorus of yummy appreciation as its several layers disappeared. Tea and coffee came along with perfect timing.
None of this, you will already have noticed, is aimed at the credit-crunched – but in fairness, Mr Novikov’s culinary nest is home to a good clutch of value-priced eateries too. Syr doesn’t really have serious competitors in Moscow – you would need an air-ticket to head off in search of anything quite as good as this in the world. In Moscow, it simply doesn’t get better than this.
301.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.
302.Shatush  
Shatush is not a Chinese restaurant - it simply serves stunning Chinese food. No bamboo screens, no ethnic or new-age music, no hokum costumes, and no Kazak girls pretending to be Chinese... Forget wizened straw-hatted toilers in photogenic paddy fields - imagine instead the entertainment world where Shanghai's successful young businessmen socialise with TV and film people, and you're nearer the mark. Oriental lacquer-black dominates the interior, offset with classical red highlights. The lighting-scheme is carefully designed - sky-blue higher up on the walls as a dramatic sweep as you enter, with downlighters on your designer-black tables to keep your meal centre-stage. There's plenty to entertain the eye as you dine - the design is achieved on macro, midi and mini levels, and the more you look, the more you find. There's a second, slightly quieter salon offering hookah-pipes if you wish.
The DJ-Cafe set-up works well here, and a sweetly planned PA system enmeshes the dining environment with a consistently warming and enjoyment-enhancing soundtrack of contemporary sounds. Two welcome elements of Chinese influence remain alongside the cuisine, however - the smiling Asian welcome and hospitality, and the speed of service and preparation. The table staff is almost entirely Russian, and there is no attempt to try to make them look Chinese. However, these guys (it's a largely male personnel, with a charming approach that will keep the female clients coming back) know their stuff, and know the menu inside-out. You want to know more about any dish? They know what's in it, where the ingredients come from, how it's prepared, what will sit well alongside it! Nor do they try and steer you into the pricey stuff - in fact they are keen to recommend the elegant simplicity of the more modest dishes on the menu. However, the line-up of Mercs and BMWs parked outside, in immaculate showroom condition, give the hint that this is not a place to come for a cheap plate of noodles. In reality, the remarkable thing about Shatush is that it's a stunning experience in a top restaurant, yet the prices are still only in the mid-upper range. Flying-in the authentic fresh ingredients from Asia or London, as sparkling GM Nika Loginova explained, is in the interests of top quality, rather than cutting corners. Portions are in the generous, Asian, meal-sharing tradition, however - you might very well opt to take a starter or main course between two? We didn't, and in reality we over-ordered. But the other side of that tradition - they'll cheerfully wrap what's left uneaten in a doggy-bag for you to take home.
Everything comes so quickly from the kitchen that you can enjoy a hot appetiser whilst pondering the rest of your order. The Fried Wasabi Prawns (520Rbs for six gigantic pieces) are stupendously good, in a subtle creamy sauce, served on endive. All of the dishes come inventively and appealingly presented, in fact - cutting-edge contemporary tableware adds to the experience. Spinach in Oyster Sauce (430Rbs) was the waiter's suggestion, and it came lightly stir-fried with fresh bite left in it, making a nice counterbalance to the other dishes. My favourite dish of the evening, in fact, was one of the simplest, and again a recommendation from the restaurant staff -“ Singapore Fried Vermicelli (480Rbs) a combination of vermicelli of different weights (from tiny to medium) warmed by some subtle chilli flavouring and then laden with seafood and vegetables. I would happily have taken this along with the spinach and gone home singing. Instead, though, we pushed the boat out and tried a dish from quite a long way up the pricing spectrum - Thai-style Sterlet, weighing-in at 1400Rbs. The portion is more than enough for two, although the warmth of spicing is authentically Thai, and proved a little hotter than my companion felt comfortable - my asbestos mouth enjoyed every forkful, though. More classically northern-chinese (where they use far fewer spices - it is, after all, on the Siberian border) in inspiration at least was the Ostrich in Yellow-Bean Sauce (780Rbs), and it prompted a rare silent moment of contented munching.
Wines are rarely the best accompaniment to Asian food - neither the wine nor the food gain from the combination. Instead, we strove manfully into the list of House Speciality Cocktails, following-up a pre-arrival tip to try to the Hakka (400Rbs). A cascade of citrus-inspired invention, this quickly doused the chilli flames and had us crying for refills. The Pink Mochito was perhaps less successful for the same price - the raspberry seemed to neutralise the expected minty tang. Voss bottled water brings a refreshing Scandic purity (it's rated as one of the purest bottled waters in the world) from Norway - in a designer-desirable bottle that's a contemporary classic.
How you will possibly find room for desserts after all this, I have no idea! The Strawberry Cheesecake (350Rbs) is pleasantly light, or for those still eager for more substantial pleasures, the Rum Parfait (same price) packs a terrifying number of calories into every cm2 - both of them were at the upper acceptable end of sweetness for me. The more virtuous will instead turn their attention to the extensive list of Chinese gourmet teas on offer.
I really defy you not to like Shatush? It has everything that's really great about Chinese food and service, jettisons all the tired cliches, and conjures up innovative cuisine in a stylish, slick and hedonistic atmosphere that succeeds on every level. Birthday treat, special occasion supper, or just needing to pamper yourself - but book ahead, the word's been out about Shatush for a while now, and you're unlikely to get a table without reserving a few days in advance. Over the summer months, and starting from June 10, Shatush also has a Summer Terrace open - which may ease your chances of getting a table fractionally too.
303.Barmalini  
Barmalini – a new pizzeria cafe from the owners of Coffeemania
My credentials for reviewing Russia’s pizza-places are unshakeable - I was at the opening night of the first-ever pizza cafe in the USSR - in Leningrad, in 1984. It was an unforgettable night – they had a black-&-white chequerboard tiled floor (they’d painted it by hand!), they had Italian music playing, the place was packed with revellers. The only thing they didn’t have was pizza – they’d sold out by lunchtime. But you could bring your own drinks (back then private cafes couldn’t get liquor-licences), and everyone was having a great time - the welcome was warm and heartfelt, and Paolo Conte was on the cassette-player.
Fast-forward a quarter century and slightly to the south, I confidently stride into Pizzeria Barmalini near Paveletskaya. There are funny pictures on the walls and stuffed dolls and toys for the kiddywinks – not exactly the expectation I had of a pizzeria, and Barmalini is the exact opposite of my Leningrad 1984 experience. They do, indeed, have pizza. And it’s great pizza! But some other things you might expect alongside are missing.
My glamorous co-reviewer Emilia Marty arrived late – she’d walked straight past the place, not realising it was the pizzeria she was hunting for. The menu is just a simple single-sided list of pizzas only. If you want a salad, a dessert, or anything to drink, then you can pore instead through the Coffeemania menu, since Coffeemania own Barmalini and are operating full-on the other side of the adjoining partition. Avid pizza fans may well find this to be enough – especially if you’ve just popped in for a lightning lunch (and the service is indeed enviably presto). But I love classic Italian starters like tricolore, or marinated artichokes, or a delicious bruschetta – and somewhat surprisingly, you can’t get them at Barmalini. This seems an odd decision, but presumably it’s to encourage patrons not to linger at lunchtimes? The same idea might be behind not having wi-fi either?
In many small pizzerias or trattorias in Italy, a glass of house wine comes free with the Set Meal, and it’s house wine that the owner will drink himself. Sadly this democratic approach to wine doesn’t apply at Barmalini. We were finally induced into trying a glass each of their red and white offerings - but at ten euros a pop they’re not something you ask them to bring more of. You won’t spend long choosing, though – because in fact they only have one Italian red, and one Italian white on the menu. The price of 490 roubles isn’t for a bottle – it’s for a single glass of Chianti Classico (or 450 roubles for the white choice – an Orvieto San Giovanni Classico). I can’t help thinking that this pricing policy is going to encourage diners to skip wine altogether.
I was in utter ignorance about Barmalini – apparently (or so Emilia told me) he was Pinocchio’s nemesis. His cartoon picture is all over the walls. The rest of the interiors consist of exposed red-brick walls and the ho-hum-seen-it-before exposed high-tech steel ducting and lighting. After seeing the latest venues unveiled by Barmalini owners Coffemania – for example their outlet in the shopping centre at Trubnaya – I was really surprised by the simplistic decor.
We ought to mention the pizzas - which are indeed excellent! Emilia took a Campagna (490 Rbs for a single-serving pizza) – a classic Italian line-up. It came on an authentically thin base, topped with a fragrant tomato sauce and a lavishly generous covering of salami milano. The balance of flavourings, herbs and olive oil was masterly, and this is truly excellent pizza-making, although Emilia had some reservations about having so much salami on one single pizza. Barmalini’s menu offers two pizzas prepared on black dough – although surprisingly they tell you nothing at all about, err, why it’s black? I took a Quattro Mare (450 Rbs for a single-serving pizza) which came on a deliciously thin, black-hued base. The entire area of the pizza is elegantly arrayed by segments of different seafood toppings – there’s tuna, salmon, seafood cocktail and shrimps. Better than this pizza doesn’t get, believe me – a treat for the eyes and tastebuds alike. The pizza bases themselves are enviably crisp and authentically thin, coming from a gleaming pizza oven whose substantial appearance dominates the entire kitchen area. Part of the fun of Barmalini – as in the best pizza places – is that you get to watch the pizza-making as it happens, and the kichen area is at the centre of attention in the cafe’s layout. And you certainly get the real thing here – all of the ingredients are top-quality and delicious, and the sumptuous taste delivers every expectation from enticing appearance and aroma. The difference between factory-made and hand-made couldn’t be more convincingly made – this is the pizza that Momma used to make.
There are no Italian desserts on the menu (in case you had a hankering for panna cotta, or a choice of gelateria?), but you can order desserts from the Coffeemania menu instead. I took an It Girl dessert (310 Rbs) – a raspberry mousse decorously draped with green fronds and with a pineapple centre – a tried and tested Coffeemania favourite. Emilia wasn’t so keen on her Fortunella (290 Rbs) – a concotion of Philadelphia cheese with mandarin and kumquat.
Paveletskaya is keenly short of eateries, and getting a lunchtime table in any of them is a ticklish business. The area all around is lined with the corporate office-blocks of Russian and foreign companies. Anyone who succeeds in opening a cafe here is going to make money – without trying especially hard.But Barmalini are trying hard, and the difference counts. The service sacrifices the personal touch in favour of ruthless efficiency – which might suit you, on occasion?
Barmalini delivers great pizza, reliably and speedily – making it an ideal place for a business-hour lunch. You’ll get a great lunch easily even if you’re pushed for time, without any fingernail-chewing about whether you’ll get back to the office on time. They’re clearly aware of the competition locally for the lunchtime trade. Where I have reservations, however, is the evening. With a major multiplex cinema around the corner, and the concert-hall/theatre complex of Dom Muzyky across the road, there’s another clientele around who might be more keen to see a wider menu (perhaps with more Italian appetisers or desserts) on offer, and whose main priority isn’t merely speedy service. This might be an area which Barmalini are looking to cover later on?
Meanwhile what’s on offer at Barmalini is pizza made to the highest standards, and not for the lowest price. That makes Barmalini a lifestyle choice, because there is certainly cheaper pizza available down the street. Yet the originality and high quality of what Barmalini is offering is worth the small extra cost, and certainly didn’t seem to be deterring diners on the day we visited. Whether they convince you to become a regular or not, Barmalini sets the benchmark for creatively-designed top-quality pizzas, and their local competitors will have to sharpen up their act to remain in contention.
304.Frendy's  
In contrast to a recent review of a restaurant that I will refrain from naming – a place that may very well not exist when you read this review – I liked Frendy’s.
In fact, I not only liked Frendy’s, I was, and am, enamored with this small, cozy American-style diner on Ulitsa Pokrovka. Since our initial, virgin dinner on a windy, cold night in March, I have returned there two more times with friends.
Your first challenge with regard to Frendy’s is arriving. The location is equidistant between three metro stations – Kitay-Gorod, Chistiye Prudy, and Kurskaya – and Ulitsa Pokrovka is a long, one-way street if you are driving.
The location, however, is not a deal breaker and, for my taste, is more of an asset than a liability. In Moscow, I like smaller establishments that are not “so easy” to get to because, well, there tend to be less people, and fewer throngs of customers means that your business is “better valued” and results in a better dining experience.
If walking, get off at either Kitay-Gorod or Chistiye Prudy. It’s a 10 to 15 minute walk to Frendy’s on main streets, and in the Spring, Summer, or Fall, this walk is enjoyable and gives you an easy entry into a unique area of Moscow. Look for the big, lighted, yellow-hued sign – take a right through a small courtyard, and you are there.
Frendy’s occupies the third floor of a rustic, historic building. The second floor is occupied by the Bentley Hotel, and both businesses fall under the same ownership umbrella.
Upon making it up the stairs, you will realize immediately that three flights of stairs for such a cool diner is a fair trade indeed. The space that the designers had to use in formulating Frendy’s is challenging - Third floor, attic-style ceilings, and really only one possible natural light area.
Many restaurants in Moscow attempt to deliver either trendy-dark-expensive-depression or uber lighted-faux-expensive-bubble gum – and generally FAIL at delivering anything. Few restaurants “get it” and deliver the simple ambiance that Frendy’s does through its use of the right lighting, mirrors, and seating arrangement. Throughout the meal, I gushed to my dining partner – “I really like this place, even more than – ahem – Starlite”. From the dreary weather outside to the warm, lively reception inside – Frendy’s gets a 10 on atmosphere and setting.
To note, however, Frendy’s is not large and while it’s still a newer establishment, limited seating capacity is less of a dire issue. On the other hand, with a challenging location, if I were a walk-up diner who had made the trek to Frendy’s only to find out that I had to wait for a table, I would not be singing Fred Astaire with a smile. In the warmer months – and this is what will garner my Spring/Summer business – there will be seating, and perhaps a separate menu, in the courtyard outside.
Frendy’s also does not have free Wi-Fi access for customers and it can be challenging to catch a good signal in the building. It is generally a huge minus for me to not have readily-available Wi-Fi access, but I understand that the manager will add WiFi in the near future, as well as a loyalty/discount program and other promotions.
For the unabashedly American or Russian hamburger soul, the menu at Frendy’s is heaven. Keep this in mind when you go there – Frendy’s does not pretend to be something it is not. It is an American diner, and it does not portend to be everything for everybody.
The menu reads like an All-Star list of the foods that are the death of the Pax Americana and will be the downfall of the rising Asian Tiger. From my vivid memory, cheeseburgers, chicken wings, nachos, Philly cheesesteak, seasoned french fries, onion rings, chili, nachos, omlets, eggs over easy, ranch dressing (a first in Moscow for me), the seemingly mandated-by-law Caesar salad, and porridge. In short, every selection on the menu was appealing for me, even the porridge.
We started with two appetizers, and it was hard to choose just two from the tantalizing list. We settled on boneless BBQ-flavored chicken wings (465 RUB) and Frendy’s nachos (380 RUB), to be doused separately and exclusively in a cold bottle of Coors Light (115 RUB) and milkshake (240 RUB).
Warning: Like the American waistline and ego, love it or hate it, the portions at Frendy’s are All-American too. That is, they are BIG. Actually, “big” is unfair – they are huge, and savory to the last gram!
The chicken wings came out first, and were immaculate. Then the huge plate of nachos showed up to the party, and I was a paralyzed to choose which to tear into with more gusto. In the meantime, my civilized, Red passport-carrying dining partner was enjoying her mushroom soup (210 RUB) and, surprise, Caesar salad with freshly grilled chicken (345 RUB).
I vaguely remember her saying, well, positive words about her soup and salad. Honestly, though, I was lost like Hunter S. Thompson in Circus Circus in the ranch dressing sauce for my wings, a mountain of nachos, and Coors Light.
To wit, it was a transcendental escape for my unapologetically American soul at an unapologetic American diner. I could have been in Steve’s Diner in a Vermont as easily as Frendy’s on Ulitsa Pokrovka in Moscow – like Dorothy in Oz, there is no place like home, and Frendy’s is a juicy morsel of genuine Americana.
Next were entrees – and we immediately understood it would be next to impossible to have room for them. For me, a Cheddar Bacon Burger (455 RUB) with breaded onion rings and, for my dining date, a quartered Club Sandwich (395 RUB) with french fries.
The cheeseburger was a three-inch tall monster daring you to take the first bite. My only choice was to douse it in ketchup and ranch, squeeze the bun down into the huge chunk of meat, and tear off the first sloppy bite. Harkening back to the famous Buffet song that will be played at my wake one day – “Cheeseburger in Paradise, not too particular, not too precise….just a Cheeseburger in Paradise. “ Absolute sloppy Cheeseburger heaven, each and every bite.
My dining partner had 25% of her Club Sandwich and raved that it was so good that it was a shame to try to enjoy it when she was already satiated, so she stopped to instead take photos of me with my new kitten.
At this point, we requested take home boxes since there was so much food remaining, all of it, quite frankly, damn good. Our items were wrapped in foil, neatly packed into a bag, and returned to us. As a testament to the “hot damn” factor of our entire meal, my Saturday breakfast was, immediately upon getting out of bed, my remaining chicken wings and cheeseburger. I gladly dodged the scathing barrage of words from my lady to indulge in Frendy’s morning after.
In short, I do not know what else can be said. Our bill was 2845 RUB – a bargain for the quality of food, portion size, mouth-watering flavor, attentive service, and appealing atmosphere.
Without hesitation, I recommend Frendy’s if you are looking for an American diner experience. I am writing this review on Delta flight 30 somewhere over Greenland – and I will be going to Frendy’s later today upon arrival, no joke. I recommend that you do the same!
305.Gavroche  
Going into this review, with a name like Gavroche, I was intrigued, to say the least. I did some quick research on location since finding places in Moscow is usually hit, miss, and frustration.
Arriving to Gavroche by car is a bit tricky. Building 11 is a Soviet monolith that occupies nearly the entire block. We parked on the street at an available spot, and we were at the wrong end of the street, as luck would have it. However, Gavroche has a parking lot “in the back” that actually had available spots, so call ahead.
Metro stop is Park Kultury, and it is not a difficult walk to Gavroche – investigate prior and you will arrive without problem. Note, though, that the entrance is well-marked, but across from building 26.
For me, an increasing portion of the buying decision is simple – free WiFi, yes or no? I am madly loyal to Coffee House (I am here now) because they have free WiFi. I avoid Shokoladnitza and Starbucks precisely because they do not have free WiFi. It’s not a question of money – the free portion – it is a question of make it convenient for me, and I will give you my business and tell others to do the same.
Gavroche, I am happy to say – and as a pleasant surprise – has free WiFi announced by a sign that jumps out on the front door, and WiFi that works good. I had my iPad with me, so it was really a super addition. Small example – I did not know what “Gavroche” is or meant. Two seconds later, Victor Hugo and Les Miserables. Kudos to Gavroche for being, well, smart and recognizing its clientele.
I am a born cynic and that is how I went into Gavroche. I, however, do not have expectations that are not reasonable. On every count, Gavroche met my expectations – and, in all fairness, exceeded them as well.
With regard to interior, Gavroche is sleek and tastefully done. Nice and quiet. You can have a conversation easily across the table without having to huddle or yell. That was a huge plus, in addition to the fact that you are not crowded into a puny table. In short, you can relax, and you quickly do. Not the pretentious kind of relax, but actually feel at ease.
There is a seasonal terrace outside with sofa seating with blankets and space heaters available upon request. Inside, you do not feel cigarette smoke since it is whisked out almost immediately the central air system.
With regard to service, Gavroche does extremely well. Our waitress, Julia, was very attentive, but not over- attentive. Maybe I am alone in being annoyed when I finish my last bite – or not even finish it – and the plate is already off the table, seized by the hawk-eyed waiter or waitress who makes me feel like I am somehow not eating fast or efficiently enough.
This is not the case at Gavroche – again, you can relax here. Enjoy your seat, surf the net a bit, and eat at your own pace.
Gavroche is a wine bar with a sommelier that is happy to guide you through choices to meet your mood or entree. About 140 different wines are listed, with the most expensive approximately 17500 RUR, but with very nice bottles in the 2500 to 3500 RUR range.
Menus are in English and Russian, in separate covers, and, very importantly, they match each other. Where this is nice is if you are with somebody who does not speak English, he/she can suggest something, show it to you on his/her menu, and it will match up the English menu for you to poke at for your waitress. A small criticism is that portion sizes are not noted.
We started the meal with wine (Gentil Hugel Alsace, 270 RUR glass and Givry, 390 glass) that was recommended by the sommelier, as well as two appetizers – an artichoke, onions, and pickles assortment (290 RUR) and a cured meat platter assortment (470 RUR). The wine was excellent and the dishes came quickly, as well as a nice bowl of baguette style bread with soft butter. Both dishes were a super start to the dining experience, and there is a wide array of appetizers from which you can choose to suit your taste.
Again, with WiFi and an iPad on-hand, we enjoyed the quiet – but not empty – atmosphere and the good wine with appetizers. There was no rush to order, and we did not feel rushed.
I was not sure what I wanted to order for my entree, so I told Julia to surprise me. No fish, no pasta, but everything else was, as you can say, on the menu. We did, however, order two other entrees to have a basis of comparison – duck breast with cranberry sauce (590 RUR) and steamed/grilled cod with vegetables and rice (470 RUR).
The cod was very well prepared and flavorful. Duck is also something that I tend to stay away from because any time that I have ordered it in Moscow, I have been painfully disappointed – too dry, overcooked, and really just not up to par. However, the duck was excellent. In fact, it was as perfect as really possible – and for a person like me who is not a big fan of this meat, that says a lot about Gavroche’s cook and recipes.
Honestly, when I said “surprise me”, I wanted the ribeye steak (950 RUR), medium done. Julia must have saw it in my eyes because that is exactly what she brought me, accompanied by a nice bowl of fresh greens and round/cube cut French fries that came with a bottle of Heinz ketchup too. No bowl of 50g – for the first time anywhere not Starlite Diner was I presented with my own bottle of ketchup.
The ribeye was super. Just super. The sauce that accompanied brought out the inherent flavor of the cut of meat. It was cooked to perfection, and exceeded my expectations in every way. A nice steak in Moscow at a reasonable price is hard to find since the price-good steak or not gamut is always a shot in the dark. If simply for another steak and big beer, I will be back to Gavroche.
I forgot to mention – before enjoying the entrees, we were able to consult with the sommelier again about wines that would go well with the dishes. He suggested Chablis Grand Regnard (590 RUR glass) and Pouilly Fuisse Faiveley Le Marconnais (470 RUR glass). The Chablis was good, but the first white wine got the green light our party for the best combination with a nice fish dish. The Pouilly was a perfect match for the duck entree. For my exquisite ribeye – nothing beats a big .5L Kronenburg draft (210 RUR), even if you are in a wine bar with a selection as deep as Gavroche’s.
Dinner complete and extremely satisfied. We chatted amongst ourselves for 20 minutes or so before considering dessert. Looked up a few more random things using WiFi, made some phone calls with Skype, and was pulled in for dessert.
My huge conundrum is cheesecake in Moscow since, generally, good cheesecake is even harder to find than your own bottle of ketchup. The best cheesecake in the world is made by my Uncle Bruce in the US. He knows this, and the world knows this.
However, Uncle Bruce, you have a worthy competitor in the cheesecake with strawberry sauce (320 RUR) offered at Gavroche. I have had cheesecake at inexpensive and expensive places in Moscow – and few have scored memorable – but my quote when wolfing mine down with my Americano (190 RUR) and Sambuca Molinari (290 RUR) was, “(t)his is the best damn cheesecake in Moscow!”, and it is.
We tried two other deserts as well – a Sotern with Thai Orchid (380 RUR) and chocolate fudge mindal cake (310 RUR) with a cappuccino (130 RUR) for my dining partner. I came out of my cheesecake bliss to try both of them, and both were very nice. Sotern was a new dish for me, and it was a nice, light composition. The chocolate fudge mindal, I postulate, was as much a round piece of heaven for chocolate lovers as my round piece of heaven cheesecake.
The appealing and relaxing atmosphere at Gavroche lasts the entire meal. I have had hard time thinking about “how” to express the atmosphere in words. Instead, I prefer to use examples.
For instance, Gavroche is a restaurant that would be perfect if you had friends or family visiting and you want a place that you can sit down to catch up. For those in a party like this, WiFi allows the just arrived to get caught up on things like email, places he/she would like to see in Moscow, and the like. The menu is diverse enough to satisfy most dining preferences, and, moreover, the wine list is impeccable in selection and pricing.
If not a friends and family type gathering, Gavroche is perfect for entertaining business clients, professional colleagues, or co-workers. Location is central, parking lot close, terrace available, excess seating upon request can be reserved, and it is a quite place for uninterrupted conversations.
In closing, I give Gavroche a ringing Purdy Five-Star Endorsement on all accounts. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend Gavroche to anybody in the Expat.ru community looking for a new place to try or a familiar place to return to you on your second, third, fourth, et al visits!
306.Vanil  
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
307.Avant Festival 2007  
Avant Festival 2007
Drizzling rain started in the morning failed to hinder the admirers of independent...and simply good and trendy music from gathering at WinZavod where Gauloises Avant Fest 2007 took place, supported by the French cigarette brand Gauloises.Lineup of the Fest was so unpredictable that it was impossible to guess what kind the music was going to be. On the one hand, bands from different countries playing modern music were gathered in one place, on the other hand, stylistic and even age diversity of the artists excited apprehension that it would be impossible to mix it all into one juicy and sappy musical cocktail.At the same time Russian and foreign guests of Gauloises Avant Fest 2007 tried to keep up with the pace and stirred up the audience. The Ladybug Transistor made the onlookers raise their hands at the command. The Russian bands didn’t resort to such kind of tricks, but even without them Yolochnye Igrushki, Punk TV, Silence Kit and other bands sounded very competitive.The Headliner’s part of the Fest was the most memorizing, ShitDisco showed what the audience had expected – pert riffs, pulsating beat, vocals loosing into falsetto, undressing and shower-bathing. Long-expected God is an Astronaut was met with great ovation, and they kept the true post-rock style.The veterans of American grunge, whose music brought up more than one generation of music lovers, finally shook the audience. Just in a second the front of the stage became overcrowded, the band started playing dirty guitar grunge riffs so the onlookers stared dancing shouting and applauding. Thanks to Mudhoney!And we’re looking forward to the next Festival.
308.Doctor Zoil & Monsieur Blumenberg (Italy)  
Doctor Zoil & Monsieur Blumenberg (Italy)
What's two months in Moscow to most Muscovites at the start of winter?
Some say it's not even a warm up of what's to come. Others claim it's just a trial in mental preparation and will. And then there are those who feel as if two months in a city like Moscow is more than anyone may need for a lifetime.
For me, setting foot off that Aeroflot flight from New York at Sheremetyevo airport, only knowing how to say, da, niyet, spahseebo and pohzhalusta, and being 22 years old, after two months, everyday still feels like the first.
So, when expat.ru asked me to review Doktor Zoil and Monsieur Blumenberg at Cafe Keks, Saturday night, November 20, I didn't think twice about it. I hailed my first solo gypsy cab in Moscow and after some very broken and very pathetic haggling (in Russian of course), I found myself on the slick, orange, dimly lit street of Timura Frunze where I walked straight into the back lounge of Keks to find the Italian "bastard break beat" duo of Doktor Zoil and Monsieur Blumenberg eating, drinking, and talking to friends before the concert.
In true Italian fashion, the two were friendly, open and easy going to talk to, not only about their new Riviera Boogie project which they are currently promoting, but also about their interests and inspiration as musicians.
When asked about musical styles and where Riviera Boogie originated, Monsieur Blumenberg (also known as Chicco Montefiori) replied, "This particular one
(style) is bastard break beat...we like 60's and 70's soul...it is a mix of this, funk and bossanova...we were on the island of Capri when the idea came to us." With a nostalgic smile, Doktor Zoil added, "Capri is perfect...the weather, the food, the ambiance, just perfect."
While Capri may be the spot for inspiration, both Monsieur Blumenberg and Doktor Zoil agreed that Caf? Keks in Moscow is the ideal venue for playing their music. "This project works best in small clubs," Doktor Zoil said, "We like to see the girls dancing to
our music, and Russian women are just beautiful."
Russian women weren't the only ones doing the dancing on the compact dance floor. Everyone seemed to pack it in as the two played their eclectic mix of sax, flute, and bass combined with funky beats and energetic voices. Not bad for one of their first concerts with the new project.
However, Doktor Zoil and Monsieur Blumenberg are no strangers to the stage or the city of Moscow as they have performed here countless times over and plan on returning. "There is a great energy in this city and in the people," Doktor Zoil said, "It is always a pleasure to play here."
"And to be here," I smiled and silently thought to myself.
309.The Terminal / By Steven Spielberg /  
The Terminal / By Steven Spielberg /
I heard that this movie was loosely based on true events, about an Iranian political refugee who has been stranded in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport since the late 80’s. Dreamworks paid this gentleman $250,000 for the rights to his amazing story, and with good reason. After having seen The Terminal, I felt like I was more interested in the person’s true story than this adaptation. This could clearly be a case of reality being more interesting than fiction.
Tom Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a visitor to the New York from the fictional country of Krakozia. Upon his arrival to JFK International Airport, he discovers that his country is in the midst of a civil war; his papers considered null and void until a new Krakozian government is elected and its sovereignty is recognized. He becomes stuck at the airport for an indefinite period of time, forced to find ways to survive in his temporary abode.
In Viktor’s time at the terminal, he chances upon meeting many different characters whose lives somehow parallel his current situation. Viktor’s antagonist is Dixon, expertly played by Stanley Tucci. Dixon is the airport terminal’s acting Security Director. Having worked the same station for over 10 years, he considers Viktor’s arrival to be the annoying wrinkle in his impending promotion. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays the love interest, in what seems to be her most beautiful appearance ever on screen. It’s a shame that her character is utterly superfluous and her performance unconvincing, however. I believe her whole existence in the script was only a plot device, a way to pass the time and eventually help reveal the secret of Viktor’s hollow can of peanuts.
The most delightfully surprising performance in this movie comes from Kumar Pallana, a very familiar face that some will know as “that funny Indian dude” from the Wes Anderson movies (Royal Tenenbaums). Playing the wary, playfully sadistic janitor, he quickly becomes Viktor’s most staunch ally. Viktor himself is played adequately by Hanks, who in his older years seems much more comfortable with the dramatic aspects of his character rather than the comedic fish-out-of-water scenes. Despite his horrible Russian accent (which I suppose can be explained as ‘Krakozian’), he easily manages to make us cheer for Viktor, but it never approaches the same effect as his performance in Forrest Gump.
Director Steven Spielberg definitely has a Gump-like story on his hands, with so many common elements: a likeable central character, the exposure of a failed system, a hurtful love story, and an overall feel-good atmosphere that permeates through the movie. However, it seemed as if Spielberg only had these in the background, instead focusing on the fact that these people are all stuck in their own particular moments. The result is that many of the events that occur in the movie don’t resonate well with the audience, and that satisfying feeling from Viktor’s ultimate triumph feels empty, contrived, and drawn-out.
In fact, beautiful as it is with its impeccable cinematography, the movie feels about 30-40 minutes longer than it should be. It would’ve benefited well from the deletion of a few scenes and supporting characters. If it were to focus more on Viktor and Dixon’s personal motivations, then the feeling for both characters would be more heartfelt by movie’s end. Instead, it failed to give me that emotional resonance (well, partly because I was still reeling at how useless Zeta-Jones’ character was).
The main theme that the filmmakers decided to work on was the idea of getting ‘stuck’. I can agree that being stuck in an airport is the perfect metaphor for being stuck in a moment that one can’t seem to get out of. Perhaps this movie put itself in such a situation, stuck in its own self-inflicted mess?
310.Alexander / By O. Stone /  
Alexander / By O. Stone /
They just don’t make historical epics like they used to. And in saying this, I don’t even mean the old classics such as “Ben-Hur” or “Lawrence of Arabia”, but with more fairly recent efforts, such as “Braveheart” and “Gladiator”. After seeing such disasters like “Troy” and now the freshly-unpacked “Alexander”, you wonder where exactly Hollywood has lost its way, particularly in this single genre of film that it has always excelled in.
Just as in many other historical epics, “Alexander” follows the life and times of a legendary figure of the past, namely Alexander the Great. A crib note for the historically challenged: this certain Alexander (Colin Farrell) was the figure responsible for the massive reach of the Greek Empire in the 3rd Century BC, who at his demise at 32 years of age was able to unite disparate lands from Europe to Africa to Asia all under one ruler.
So as one can probably imagine, the movie traces much of Alexander’s life from boyhood to end, in blurry Hollywoodized history. There is mention of his insatiable thirst for battle, his questionable sexual preferences, his identity crisis as a Macedonian, and the complex relationship he shares with each of his parents. The movie attempts to take all of these into consideration into the shaping of his life and legend. The story is presented in narration-dramatization fashion, with the ruler-historian Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) dictating Alexander’s story to his scribes.
The result: one bloody and boring mess of a movie.
Even Sir Anthony couldn’t save this effort, as he was fed line after line after line of yawn-inducing narration. In fact, even in the dramatic scenes felt like it was just each A-list actor delivering his/her own monologue. I suppose in days of old, people would not have conversations, but just regale one another with long-winded and overblown tirades. If I am allowed to make only one highlight performance, it would be Val Kilmer’s playing Alexander’s father, Philip of Macedon. Despite my opinion that there isn’t one single character that a viewer would find likeable, there is a certain depth and complexity in Kilmer’s performance that elicits curiosity and pathos.
On the other hand, Farrell is a poor choice for such a grand figure as Alexander. He seemed to feel out of place in every scene, despite the heroic efforts of his makeup artists. Angelina Jolie was also equally ineffective as Alexander’s mother, whose supposedly-Greek (yet Russian-sounding) accent in the Classical Age also proved too much for me to handle. If I make mention of all the lines of dialogue and scenes (including the controversial bisexual ones) that could have been sacrificed, director Oliver Stone could have come up with a movie about an hour long – not quite up to ‘epic’ proportions.
Apart from the superfluous scenes, Stone tries to trick us with more trappings that come with an epic, and he succeeds only halfway. There are the grand and sweeping camera shots, the exaggerated and bombastic soundtrack, and many scenes of A-list actors shouting at one another. Those were the failed attempts. Stone however tries to make up for this using skillful CGI work. The ancient city of Babylon was a true sight to behold, complete with its Hanging Gardens and Tower of Babel. In addition, the battle scenes were effectively bloody and brutal, and it was a true challenge not to cringe. (In particular, if you have to watch this movie, there was one beautifully shot showdown scene with Alexander on his horse charging against an elephant.)
Ultimately, where the film suffers is from a lack of focus; an angle. By the end of the movie, I still couldn’t determine exactly what Alexander’s motivation was. In watching movies such as this, I got used to people who seemed quite ordinary, but were able to rise to the challenge of extraordinary circumstances from some sort of fire that burns within them. With “Braveheart”
311.Coffee and Cigarettes / By J.Jarmusch /  
Coffee and Cigarettes / By J.Jarmusch /
This is the fuel that often keeps us going. We ask them to be apart of our ceremonial rituals to start the day, compliment our meal, comfort our uncomfortable situations. Overall just leave us with some addiction to feel a little naughty with. Caffeine & Nicotine are the two vices we all know and love - or Coffee and Cigarettes as they are better known.
In his new movie, Coffee and Cigarettes, Jim Jarmusch uses the title objects to explore the often simple, but honestly discomforting conversations we find ourselves stuck in. Shot between 1986 and 2003, Jarmusch filmed eleven short dialogues in black and white to create this feature length film. He presents each character not for their acting ability, but for their natural personality. Rather than focusing on any meaningful dialogue, Jarmusch uses coffee and cigarettes as a comforting platform on which two contrasting personalities can survive.
Beginning as a side project for NBC’s (American Cable Network) skit comedy show “Saturday Night Live,” Jarmusch invited famous actors such as Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, and Steve Buscemi to play themselves in scripted scenes centered around coffee and cigarettes. Each scene is set around a small coffee table and using basic camera angles, takes an unpretentious view of each situation. The raw cinematography creates a very natural and honest feel for the viewer. Coupled with the characters effortless acting, each short dialogue appeared very true-to life.
In “Cousins,” Cate Blanchett plays herself while reuniting with her down-and-out cousin (also played by Blanchett). Taking a break from press junkets for her upcoming movie, Blanchett meets her cousin for coffee in a fancy hotel. Showing her obvious jealousy towards her relatives’ success, Jarmusch makes no attempt to ease the tension between the two. The addition of coffee and cigarettes offers each character a comfort blanket to grasp onto during their uneasy encounter. More lighthearted scenes - such as the one with Bill Murray and Wu-Tang members GZA and RZA - offer a more zesty side to the film. Murray, who plays himself in hiding, wears a busboy uniform while gulping coffee straight from the pot. The Wu-Tang members advise Murray of his unhealthy habit offering herbal remedies to correct his smoker’s cough.
Whether it’s the awkward conversations that are shared or the family reunions gone bad, coffee and cigarettes remain the only true companion to the characters in their pathetic efforts to be genuinely honest with each another. But could these two symbols, whose personalities are as bland as the white ceramic dishes they are used with, be the main characters of a feature length film? Jim Jarmusch successfully weaves a pattern of real-life situations in a movie about our passionate relationship with coffee and cigarettes.
312.Hird  
Hird
While atmosphere and ambiance are always crucial factors for the success of any art performance, they simply set the stage for what the audience has actually come to see. In this case, it was Swedish sensation "Hird" who traveled to Club Zapasnik, Friday, December 17, for his Moscow debut.
The setting was perfect. A low-key, somewhat hidden, off the main road Moscow night club in Kitai-Gorod. A small venue. A young Russian crowd. Everyone eagerly waiting and enjoying the usual after hour amenities of cigarettes and alcohol. A dimly lit room. Strands of sparkling Christmas lights hung across mantle-type bookshelves which housed countless rows of plastered head sculptures piled haphazardly on-top of one another. And an equally fitting, cozy stage made way for cool Swedish trio "Hird" to play their melancholy, electro, lounge-type, easy listening tunes and beats, but...
That's just it, but... Something was a bit off. Like a teacher with no lesson plan in front of a roomful of expecting foreign students, pencils ready, eager to learn, Hird seemed a bit unprepared for the youthful, energetic, always ready to let loose and dance to fast paced tech-no music Moscow crowd.
Don't get me wrong, it's not as if Hird was booed off stage, pelted with tomatoes, and sent packing back to their hometown of Gothenberg, by a bunch of rowdy teenage Muscovites upon their first note. Technically, everything was ready. All the ingredients were laid out. There were no glitches in sound, no confusion, in song order, nothing of that sort. It was just that things had a bit of a slow start as Christoffer "Hird" Berg encouraged the audience to dance when they were still skeptical and not ready which gave way to a "normalny" middle as the beer began to kick in and people made their way to the floor to sway to the dreamy tunes, and smooth exotic voice of Yukimi Nagano, which after a little over an hour made for an anticlimactic end where people were dancing but far from "going crazy" as Berg kept insisting. It seems as if "going crazy" to such relaxed, sweet melodies was somewhat of an oxymoron at that point. Or maybe Swedes just have a different definition of "going crazy." The question on my mind was, "Where's the khalinka in this place?"
In true Russian fashion, the 21-yr. old charismatic, baby-faced Hird was truly embraced and appreciated for coming to Moscow to share his personal work which has already been making a splash across Nordic countries and Japan, however, it may still a bit too green and lacking in versatility in such a fast-paced, still molding city. Perhaps a clear indicator of this came as Hird went back on stage for their encore performance announcing, "Now, we're going to play 'I Love You My Hope' again and I want everyone to really go crazy and dance this time."
As Hird said in referring to his music, "I don't like to define myself or my music as an artist...It would be a mistake to because then I wouldn't be open...this is why I keep changing." There is no doubt this Swede will be back for another round in Moscow to perform his already original, nostalgic tunes...hopefully, there will just be more of them.
313.Rubin Steiner Quartet  
Rubin Steiner Quartet
It was Massive Attack meets Charles Mingus. On Saturday the 11th a privileged audience at Chocolate was in attendance for an exceedingly dynamic performance by the Rubin Steiner Quartet. Combining live trombone, double bass, keyboards and vocals with pre-programmed drum machines and samplers the French group presented something all too often lacking from the pure electronic arrangements so popular these days: raw energy.
The group is led by Frederick Landier who, speaking with a thick French accent, explained that “there is no concept to the music. Just an effort to avoid genres.” And while just about every musician will say that their music is so different as to defy categories, in the case of the Rubin Steiner Quartet it actually is true. Their trombone player, Benoit Lovette, and upright bass player, Sylvestre Perrusson, have technical skills belying years of musical education and still more years paying dues in small clubs, but the overall sound of the band lies somewhere between trip-hop, rocksteady, and be-bop jazz.
The performance started at eleven and at first the clearly wealthy and blas? dinner party set seemed skeptical. The four band members, dressed more like architecture students than hepcats, did not bring with them any aura of greatness- until the music started. While some bands try to start slow, soft or popish the R.S. Quartet jumped right in with aggressively funky jazz. The use of programmed drums actually benefited the sound. Of course programmed drums usually mean a sacrifice of spontaneity, but in this unique case the tradeoff worked. The rhythms used ranged from standard jazz beats with ever hypnotic ride symbol accents, to distinctly electronic percussion with hip hop and two-step beats.
The set consisted of songs from their two albums, Lo-Fi Nu Jazz Vol. 2 and Wonderbar Drei, as well as songs from their new album due for release around January. Their performance overall was more reminiscent of Wonderbar Drei with its focus on live instruments and original composition. While the band started out as a primarily sample based project, their last album featured a scant two samples. The only borrowed line in the show was in the well placed use of the melody from Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington’s Caravan.
While the band performed, an interesting set of visuals were projected above the stage. True, the majority of bands these days do the same, but the Rubin Steiner Quartet offered more than the glorified screen-saver or abstract imagery motifs usually slapped onto live performances. The bands’ keyboard player used a video control unit on stage which allowed him to synchronize with uncanny rhythm the video being played to the music. Images ranged from footage of Gagarin in a centrifuge to kitschy ‘60s gladiator films. But the end result was fascinating.
My only complaint is that the energy of the show- and the many frenetic young people that the group drew- would have worked better in a larger club with a dance floor. As it was there was some conflict of comfort between the younger set of the crowd jumping up and down, and the older clique just trying to eat dinner. That aside, Chocolate offered a fantastic show from a band you will definitely be hearing more of in the future.
314.Vremena Goda Orchestra/Bulakhov  
Vremena Goda Orchestra/Bulakhov
The Seasons Italian-Russian Festival in St Petersburg (& Moscow)
Italo-Russian Festival triumphs with new works, young performers and unusual repertoire.
By Neil McGowan
Innovative programming is a rarity in Russian classical music these days. The demise of the USSR (and its funding for the Arts) unexpectedly resulted in not more interesting listening, but less – now that orchestras have to be more-or-less self-financing, the same trend towards “Classical Pops” is happening in Russia as elsewhere.
All the more welcome, therefore, is the annual appearance of Moscow’s Vremena Goda orchestra in “The Seasons” Festival in St Petersburg – this year’s theme being Italo-Russian music.
The opening concert took place in the Great Hall of the St Petersburg Philharmonia – a venue which still requires some mental concentration to avoid calling it “The Leningrad Phil”. Viktor Kuleshov gave a dazzling account of Vivaldi’s “The Seasons”, playing all four concerti without a break. No less remarkable was the quality of string playing from the orchestra itself, honed to a fine standard by maestro Bulakhov – it cannot be coincidental that he’s a former violinist himself. The second half of the program was given over to Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. The work itself is somewhat uneven, and the excellent chamber choir LEGE ARTIS didn’t really have enough to get their teeth into. The soloists are more generously provided-for – Svetlana Rossiyskaya was particularly stylish in the mezzo arias, although Giovanna Manci seemed a little unwell in the soprano pieces.
A highlight of the Festival was Tchaikovsky’s Souvenirs de Florence (op 70) in a spirited performance with Bulakhov at the helm. The last movement kicked off at a lick that seemed impossibly ambitious at first, but with careful pacing the adrenalin was still coursing through until the final bars, bringing plaudits from the audience that were richly deserved. Contemporary composer Mikhail Bronner’s “And tomorrow will be better than yesterday” (for alto saxophone, trumpet and orchestra) seemed a little over-extended, but was given a bravura performance by two soloists yet to reach the age of twenty – Sergei Kolesov (saxophone) and wunderkind trumpeter Kirill Soldatov (still aged only 17, but already appearing as a soloist both with Vremena Goda and Virtuosi Moskvy).
Another new work in the Festival was the piano concerto “A Game of Chess” by the exciting young Krasnoyarsk composer Irina Belova (b. 1975). It’s a remarkable piece which develops the tradition of the “soviet piano concerto” into something that is thoroughly contemporary, yet clearly acknowledging its legacy to works like the Khachachurian Concerto, and the Shostakovich Concerto No 1. Ksenia Ovodova (also from Krasnoyarsk) skipped through the phenomenal technical requirements of the work with ease and grace, and found the l Pounce, where are you? yricism lurking beneath the spikier surface. It’s a sobering thought that she’s only 14. However, Alexandra Elina in Sammartini’s Recorder Concerto displayed no lesser technical prowess – and Alexandra is only 9.
A complete change of medium and mood was offered by the Italian piano-duet brothers, Aurelio and Paolo Pollice. Personally I would have preferred their program presented in the reverse order? Their staggering rendition of the Stravinsky’s piano-duet version of The Rite Of Spring was a piece-de-resistance, but the first half made-up of lollipop items (primarily arrangements of Italian Opera numbers for C19th domestic performance) would have been better coming afterwards.
The vocal highlights finally came from Madama Manci, however, who offered a bel-canto treat including Tosti, Bellini and Verdi. The central item was the closing scene of Norma (Act 2), in which Manci was joined by Svetlana Rossiyskaya as Adalgisa – in the true spirit of an Italo-Russian festival, the combination of an Italian soprano with a Russian mezzo, orchestra and conductor produced a completely convincing and stylistic account which brought the house down. It would be unfair not to mention in the same program a super performance of the little-known Rimsky-Korsakov arrangement of “Three Arias from Glinka” for Chamber Orchestra, with a sparkling cello solo as an added bonus.
Muscovites unable to attend the St Petersburg part of the Festival had the chance to hear some of the highlights at a special concert in the Concert Hall of the Tolstoy Museum on 19th February, including Svetlana Rossiyskaya (this time partnered by fellow Helikon Opera soloist Marina Andreeva) in the Norma extract, the Souvenirs de Florence, and the Rimsky/Glinka pieces. Alexandra Elina had another chance to charm too.
Orchestra sponsors Gorodissky & Partners, and Festival Sponsors Optima-Invest are to be congratulated on a progressive policy of supporting new work and young performers that not only bucks the trend of “pops with imported stars”, but delivered artistic rewards in spades. The theme of the 2005 Festival is French Music – since French repertoire appears even less regularly than Italian in Russia, we await it eagerly.
315.Steven Bug  
Steven Bug
It’s always a good sign when you see a DJ dancing behind the decks. I don’t wish to imply that those who stand still or who seem deep in concentration aren’t enjoying themselves, but the chances are that if the DJ is dancing and visibly taking pleasure in his music – then you will be too. From the minute the German DJ and producer Steve Bug took his position behind the decks and Final Scratch console at Mio on Saturday night, he could be seen bobbing up and down, smiling and generally looking quite pleased with his set and with his crowd. By 5 am I too was dancing, jumping up and down, and smiling right back at him from across the dance floor. Though I have to admit that he was slightly quicker off the mark than I was…
When I arrived with a friend at midnight, the party had obviously only just started. We managed to get a table next to the as-yet empty dance floor, so we ordered a beer and settled into the big comfy couch for a gentle start to the long evening ahead. Much to our dismay, the beer was decidedly dodgy. A strange taste and an even stranger aftertaste meant that we quickly moved on to better stuff. The Zolotaya Bochka, at 90rbs for 0.5l was the cheapest drink on the menu. Conveniently enough for the club’s cash registers, I doubt if much of it was ordered that night! Our vodka with red bull cost 200rbs which, despite the fact that it could rival any of the London clubs’ pricelists, seemed like relatively good value for money. I should know by now that a night out in Moscow is not for those faint of heart or light of wallet!! With a 500rbs entrance fee and 50rbs at the cloakroom, Mio proved to be no exception to the rule.
But I liked the club. True, it didn’t need the plasma screen showing the usual catwalk parades (why do the clubs all have this??) but generally it seemed pretty unpretentious, with a d?cor and lighting done in relatively good taste. Nothing too adventurous - but here that makes a refreshingly nice change! I was also pleased to see that the crowd, which progressively grew until the club was full, seemed, for the most part, genuinely to be there for the music and the party, and not just to show off their new Gucci shoes. Refreshing indeed!!
By 2.30am, action on the dance floor was in full swing. DJ Helga was on fine form, playing deep house tunes which were really getting the crowd going. By the end of her set, she was playing with her audience as much as she was playing with her vinyl, making them whistle and shout as she teased them with the techno beats. Steve Bug was impressed by her performance and we agreed that if she is representative of Moscow’s up and coming talent, then there is hope after all for the music scene in Russia.
Steve himself took over the reigns at 3am. Full of high hopes at the prospect of a rare chance to listen to a world class DJ in a city which can only be described as an electronic music backwater, I have to admit to being disappointed as he dropped the tempo. I wondered what his time with the legendary Ritchie Hawtin had taught him, and puzzled at the need for the 700 tracks he claimed to have on his Final Scratch software. Why waste some of the most state-of-the art music technology, and access to some of the finest tunes ever to grace clubland, if you’re going to play an uninspired set with complete disregard for the mood of the crowd you are playing to? He may have been dancing behind the decks, but I was definitely only lurking half-heartedly on the sidelines.
Oh ye of little faith!! It soon became apparent that there was method in his madness, and soon after that it became physically impossible not to dance! My impatience had obstructed the understanding that he was constructing his set in the manner of a true artist. A DJ’s set, like a piece of musical prose, has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end… with all the nuances of poetry and the highs and lows of a dramatic novel. It’s not just a case of finishing off what somebody else has started. More to the point, we’d have never made till so late in the night if we’d peaked too soon! It’s not an unknown phenomenon that to delay the climax is to prolong the pleasure…
And a pleasure it was indeed! He played a safe set- nothing too risky, but good, bouncy tunes which progressed to deep, penetrating hard house beats. By 5am, I had seen and heard enough. He was good – no doubt about it. I’d had a great dance and a very good night: My smiles and rosy cheeks were testament to that! By the time I left, he was still going strong. The audience was loving every minute of it, and visibly so was he. As I said before…It’s always a good sign to see the DJ dancing behind his decks!
316.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 www.pinkgrease.com 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.
317.Eagle-Eye Cherry (Sweden)  
Eagle-Eye Cherry (Sweden)
I recall the early days when I was learning to play guitar, and the song “Save Tonight” was one of the first that my friends taught me. It was simple, catchy, happy, and best of all, girls just loved it…
Flash forward 6 years later, and upon seeing the Culture Picks section on this site and the subsequent press that came soon after, I just couldn’t pass the opportunity to cover this event. Just imagine the excitement I felt when I opened up the invitation – and discovered that I had a VIP pass – for a celebration where the guest of honor was one of my early guitar idols!
Upon our arrival, it would appear that the star of the night was actually not Eagle-Eye Cherry, but the venue itself. In the glitzy celebration which marked the 1st anniversary of the Hard Rock Caf? here in Moscow, good ol’ EEC was merely icing on the cake. Regardless, the good people of Hard Rock went all out: beautiful and friendly staff, balloons, ice sculptures, and free champagne and cocktails were a sight to see.
The atmosphere was wonderful, and the crowd was a great mix of sponsors, socialites, and people who were ‘just there for the music’. In fact, probably the biggest fan that night was one of the servers, moving from table to table selling flowers, not missing a single word in her lip-singing. Regardless, the unusual mix of people, Russian and Expat alike, made for a wonderful vibe that lasted for the whole night. And with all the merriment going on, it felt like a nice, tall ice-cream sundae…
With a Cherry on Top
This was an event mainly designed for the privileged, a way for them to get together, unwind, and maybe recapture the spirit and vibrancy of their youth. And in this regard, maybe EEC could be looked at as the poster boy. One can also take this literally of course, as he’s remained virtually unchanged in appearance since peaking in the Billboards of 1998.
The event was heavily covered by the media, and even some famous Russian celebrities were on hand. In what was to fill up EEC’s hour-and-a-half delay, many of these personalities took their turns on stage, representing TV, media, and popular music. Even the Managing Partner took to the stage, ending his turn with some visionary words: “Let’s all have a f*ckin’ great time everybody!”
Once Eagle-Eye Cherry and Co. went up, the atmosphere went from festive to electrifying. The dude was ready to rock, really feeding off the crowd’s vibe. Only pausing to change guitars, he progressed through each song with the same confident, radio-pop sound. Criticisms could be leveled at this guy for his fragile voice and simplistic rhythms, but he sure knew how to work a crowd. His easy-alternative style hit the mark with “Falling in Love Again”, as the song’s cheesy goodness was food for fans. To compensate for his vocal shortcomings, he performed “Don’t Give Up”, a slow-tempo rock anthem that had him playing off his band with great effect; so-so vocals, great backup.
Save Tonight
EEC’s stage magic hit its peak with this song, the obvious choice for a finale. This was where he took the night back, establishing himself as the true star of the show. At no time was the crowd louder and more animated, with many (including yours truly) happily singing on. Maybe it was the overall energy of this song, but EEC really gave it all he could. This was his baby, his claim to fame, his opus! The song was the climax, and I was reminded of my memories of practicing, listening to the CD with the track on repeat… And there in front of me was the man himself: Eagle-Eye Cherry, playing “Save Tonight” in all its humble 3-chord majesty! It was awe-inspiring.
Feeling drained yet wanting more, I joined the crowd’s ovation and pleas for an encore. The band was happy to oblige, finally ending with the rhetorical crowd-pleaser, “Are You Still Having Fun?” Just before heading backstage, EEC was eager to show his gratitude, taking bows and expressing his appreciation for the fans, repeatedly saying “I love you Moscow!” From beginning to end, the crowd loved him back.
Descending down the stairs of Hard Rock Caf? Moscow, I saw the “Happy 1st Birthday” ice sculptures remain strangely intact, seemingly unaffected by the heat and electricity of the party above. However, the event overall was a great success, if the sudden disappearance of event posters were of any indication. That very familiar song was still playing in my mind as I waved to the staff and thanked them before exiting… The people of Hard Rock and Eagle-Eye Cherry gave us all a night to remember.
318.Dialogues des Carmelites / Francis Poulenc /  
Dialogues des Carmelites / Francis Poulenc /
In Helikon Opera’s searing new production of “The Carmelites”, the nuns are “bowled” to death…
Only someone with a mind as sick as Dmitry Bertmann’s could devise a way of increasing the horror at the end of “Carmelites” – with a group of nuns going willingly to the guillotine during the French Revolution. I ought to say immediately that this production is extremely “classic”, and does not relocate the action in any other time or place.. for the most part. But instead of showing us the guillotine itself, Bertmann shows us the ascending staircase which leads to it – and as nuns disappear off the upper end, the officers of the Revolutionary Guard aim bowling-balls down an alley at skittles. As zany as this idea may sound, the reality is a nightmarish ending to some of the finest work to be seen on any opera stage anywhere. This is truly a “definitive” production of the work.
The Tulubieva/Nezhny designs and costumes work superbly, on this infamously tiny and ill-equipped stage. A simple descending staircase is clad to reveal only head-to-shoulders window-slot, which opens to reveal the Sisters, and whose opening forms the shape of the Crucifix. The nuns are simply and identically dressed – the Revolutionaries appear in metallicised pseudo-period dress, apparently smeared in blood. There are – apart from the bowling-alley – no gimmicks or tricks, this is simply marvellously-directed theatre, in which the interplay of characters, and the personal development of Sister Blanche are foremost.
Vladimir Ponkin conducts a hard-driven performance that counter poses singers against heavy slabs of sound – Poulenc’s orchestration is an unforgiving accompaniment for the vocalists, yet Ponkin finds enough respite for them. Seamless playing of the highest quality emerges – won’t someone please find funds for a proper orchestra-pit at Helikon?
For the Russian premier, Helikon come up with true “luxury casting”. Any who feared that Blanche is too low-set for Tatiana Kuinji soon put those fears aside, and her interpretation of the role is stunning. She socks-out the chest-voice passages with aplomb, and makes a credibly annoying and judgemental zealot. (Natasha Zagorinskaya, a heavier-set “dramatic”, sings the role at some performances).Outstanding in the cast is Ksenia Viaznikova as Madame de Croissy, the old Prioress – the death scene in which she curses God himself for making her die of cancer was terrifying in its dramatic intensity, and superlatively sung. In this production it’s strongly suggested that Mere Marie (Svetlana Rossiyskaya) is poisoning Madame de Croissy. Mere Marie not only escapes with the Priest (Anatoly Ponomarev) but is seduced by him too. Fine performances amongst the other nuns came from Alissa Gitsba as a serene and rational Prioress, and a heart-in-the-mouth performance from Marina Andreeva as the simplistic Sister Contance. Nikolai Dorozhkin (Chevalier de la Force) and Igor Tarasov (his father) complete a faultless cast, along with Dmitry Kalin’s powerful Commissar.
Bertmann spares no emotions – the nuns are ritually defiled before their execution by having their heads shaved (some live on stage), and the Producer has prevailed on almost his entire cast to shave their heads for real for the performance. So, the bowling… the guillotine-blade operates as a hatch-cover, and as it rises and falls, bowling-skittles appear behind it. The balls – are they the heads? – of the nuns come hurtling out of delivery-tube from another hatch. Gruesome, mesmerising, and phenomenal theatre. Bowling-alleys notwithstanding, the sight of the shaven nuns, stripped to their underwear, assisting each other up the slope to the gallows was the tear-jerker that hit home throughout the audience, and the curtain came down to tumultuous applause.
319.Lali Puna   
Lali Puna
Avant Club’s booking manager introduced Lali Puna before Saturday night’s concert by thanking fans for helping bring ‘true independent music’ to Moscow. For those who attended their last concert in Moscow, three years ago, the show likely exceeded expectations. The group provided a varied set that even eventually broke the icy distance often separating fans and groups from abroad. Posters produced by the co-sponsoring Goethe Institute promised a performance by the most fashionable group in the world. Lali Puna’s hip indy rock image and music continues to win them new fans worldwide.

On and offstage, Lali Puna has a congenial dynamic. The band combines the charismatic and ever-understated founder, keyboardist and vocalist, Valerie Trebeljahr, bass guitarist Markus Acher, drummer Christoph Bradner, and keyboardist Christian Hess. Founded in early 1998 as Trebeljahr moved on from her previous gig with L.B. Page, Lali Puna’s current line-up dates from 2003 with the substitution of Hess for departing keyboardist Florian Zimmer. Since then, the band released an album, Faking the Books (Morr, 2004), and continues to develop their own distinctive and dynamic version of electronic music. This recent release spurred a second North American tour and added to their list of acclaimed EPs: Tridecoder (Morr, 1999), Scary World Theory (Morr, 2001), and Left Handed (Morr, 2003). With their last two discs, they seem to have become more of a guitar-drums-keyboard-vocalist rock group than a four-track and computer show. Saturday they blended Trebajahr’s morose alto with their rock-infused electronica on stage at Avant Club.
Before the show the band shared dinner and a beer at the venue’s snackbar. After laughing and chatting together in German, and giving a television interview, the group headed backstage to prep for the show. Avant club is a large concert venue with stadium seating and a large dance-floor, but even at just over half-full there was still an excited buzz through the crowd. While waiting, one expat yelled from the back row to his friend at the edge of the stage: “Sasha – what’s up man? Rock and Roll!” clashing with the almost too cool for school atmosphere in the rest of the theater. The fans, though excited, seem to affect the same relaxed indy rocker persona as the band they came to see. Yet as the clock ticked, this parliament-smoking hipster cool (in a no-smoking venue), began to crack around the edges and some die-hard fans jumped up and down with their friends in anxious anticipation.

Filing out a little before ten while the house lights were still dimming, Lali Puna took the stage and began their set with a slow throbbing number, filling the house with sound. Pausing afterwards for a coy “Privy-Yet,” the group moved into the favorite “1-800-FEAR.” Both songs were met with much applause and even some whistling. Though fans recognized many of the songs, there was little dancing. Most of the young hip crowd bobbed their heads to the beat, awkwardly searching for the best way to react to the music. Trebajahr’s stage presence was half shy child half stern concert performer, in contrast to the jamming Acher and Bradner. Her understated presence created an awkward distance between the band and their fans while she moved between singing, spoken word and whisper. Though admonishing in the hushed, “I never said you had to be afraid/ of the cookie monster beside your bed,” she herself didn’t move or seem to emote much behind her keyboard and synthesizer stack. Lali Puna played in front of a huge simulcast of the concert (shot from multiple cameras) but this larger than life show seemed oddly juxtaposed to Trebejahr’s demure onstage presence.

While awkward alienation may have marked the start of their set, the group soon ramped into a full sonic onslaught. Most of the songs featured a repeated melodic or lyrical figure over an evolving background of drum-base-keyboard-synthesizers. By the middle of their set the band had totally saturated the house with sound. This was an all out rock show. As the group continued the intense deluge of sound that marked the middle of their set one wondered whether they could maintain such a furious pacing. There was no banter between songs – except for a timid “spacebo. thank you.” after most. And while a few loving fans sang along, the crowds reaction didn’t begin to explode with the band’s music until the very end of their set.

Slowing down with their last number, “6-0-3,” though not sacrificing intensity, Lali Puna was called onstage for two successive encores. At the beginning of the second encore, they slammed into technical difficulties when one of the bass player’s tuners broke. “I’ve never had anything like this before – a short break and we’ll be back.” Acher apologized to the crowd. To keep things going, keyboardist Hess started to lay down a phat beat, only to have his equipment fail as well. In the interruption, Trebejahr made her way to the front row for a little meet-and-greet with the fans. After a few minutes, Hess was back in business and Acher ready to play – with only three strings. Trebejahr, smiling, announced the song – 40 days – and added, “so we start once more.” And they did. By the end of the more melodic numbers in the encores, a little after 11, there was no more frosty distance between fans and band. The cool veneer that both crowd and band were affecting seemed to break with bass and synthesizer, and those present felt free to laugh with the band and get into the last numbers. As the show ended, the club’s manager came onstage to invite everyone downstairs – free – for Avant’s afterparty surprise for the band. Lali Puna was wrong if they thought their second appearance in Moscow should be their last: by the end of their show everyone was clamoring for more.

Sine qua non. The club manager began Saturday’s show by thanking fans for their support – without which, he remarked, there would have been no Lali Puna in Moscow. Indeed, Saturday was a night of unexpected conditions. Though they played an amazing set, without their three-stringed finale the cool fans would not have left as certain about their love for this cool band. After both band and fans laughed and danced through the encore, the post-gig priority was clear: hang out with the members of Lali Puna and listen to some more independent music. Turning down post show interviews in order to “have a beer and watch the show,” Lali Puna was met by an enthusiastic crowd who pushed forward for autographs and photo-ops, and shared their compliments in a mutual foreign language. “Your music… in my life…” offered one adoring fan, tracing a large circle in the air with his hands. “I understand,” returned Trebejahr. If doting fans are the condition for sustaining true independent music, it is only when that music strikes a chord. Saturday night’s Lali Puna show transformed both audience and band from aloof observers to pleased participants. True? Independent? For 600 rubles it was definitely good.
320.Futureshorts Russia II Film Festival  
Futureshorts Russia II Film Festival
As an infrequent moviegoer whose diet is primarily high budget, low quality Hollywood cinema, it is sometimes easy to lose the sense of film as art. Mainstream productions of true artistic merit are rare as powerful commercial forces pull directors towards the mass market. Any function of filmmaking, beyond simply the generation of cash, can be forgotten, firewalling innovative productions from the part-timer’s consciousness.
Two encounters with the big screen last week highlighted the point beautifully. I don’t know what possessed me to buy and then even more inexplicably watch “The Terminal”, a 90 minute attempt to patronise and irritate anyone unfortunate enough to be watching it. Perhaps it was the tempting familiarity of seeing Tom Hanks opposite Catherine Zeta-Jones or maybe it was a blind faith in the ability of Steven Spielberg. Whatever my excuse, it was a mistake, and as the timely credits rescued me from the early onset of dementia, I was left to ponder how my faith in cinema could possibly get off the canvas after this weighty blow.
The resuscitation job was carried out on Saturday as I traded in my night on Moscow’s tiles for an hour in the wind tunnel of fresh air created by “FutureShorts” at 35mm. In 60 minutes of quick-fire quality, this selection of short films had taught me more about originality and imagination in world cinema than a year’s free entry to any Odeon you could mention. Varying from a 10 minute animated aircraft safety announcement to 2 minute black comedy on the lunar landing and including almost every genre in between there was a dish for every palate in the packed auditorium to enjoy. Personally I found an agreeable flavour in almost everything on offer, a tribute to the quality control job done by the curator.
Opening with a comical French sketch entitled “I am a horse”, I was slightly concerned that the collection might have placed the emphasis on cheap laughs. Happily this proved not to be the case. This Gallic farce was followed immediately by an animation from Germany that took us on a runaway train through a valley of death to a star wars shoot out using a series of evocative old movie clips and imaginative sketching. Whilst with this, and a couple of other more abstract offerings, the themes were difficult to fathom, you could not fail to be impressed by the imagination and workmanship of the finished product. In general, however, there was a lighthearted feel to the selection. The English study of a boy who sends his deceased 80 year old best friend on a final journey on his scooter to cause havoc at the ballroom dancing before heading off into the blue yonder was certainly intended to warm the heart. If the groans of approval from the audience were anything to go by, it achieved just that.
If I had to choose a favourite, then the Japanese piece featuring a girl named Yuki would be my selection. Another triumph of imagination and novelty, the piece follows our heroine through a very short series of insignificant events. The innovation of the creators brings in a new, almost identical actress to take the girl’s character for every new movement she makes, each actress remaining on set, standing motionless in a continuous line. As the camera gradually pans with a silky smooth movement of the lens across the short slice of Yuki’s day that we have been invited into, I found myself hopelessly drawn into the scene, looking eagerly for the next move and wandering where this train was going to lead. One of the most captivating elements of the work is the chirpy Japanese pop song, perfectly selected to match the rhythm of the piece and adding to its irresistibility. With such a short time to hold the audience’s attention, music can be a powerful tool of the short filmmaker and other than a rather tedious study of an orchestral drummer it was used with great skill throughout.
As the selection above illustrates, the curator’s choices cut across not only disciplines, but also geographical boundaries. Films from Europe, Asia and America made the grade with those that included dialogue being subtitled in English since the festival had not simply been put together for a Russian audience. The collection is midway through a tour of London, Paris and St Petersburg amongst others, something that appears to have been made possible by the highly visible sponsorship provided by a mobile phone manufacturer. Happily translation devices were provided leaving the predominately Russian audience reaching for their earpieces like a visiting UN delegation when the dialogue kicked in.
Having the good fortune to find entertainment and enjoyment in a place you least expect it is a rare and satisfying experience. Neither too long nor too abstract, this introduction to film shorts was just such an event, made all the more gratifying by the contrast with my recent less successful dabbles with cinema. I have no idea how they survive, but that there are studios all over the world producing material of this sort of quality is a cause for celebration. Therefore my advice would be - when Hollywood dross leaves you feeling bitter, try a little something short and sweet.
321.Click  
Click
Directed by Frank Coraci. Written by: Mark O'Keefe, Adam Sandler, Steve Koren. Starring: Adam Sandler, Kate Beckinsale, David Hasselhoff, Sophie Monk, Christopher Walken. 107 min. USA.
By Matt Siegel
Review Top Sheet: Adam Sandler plays a shlubby working stiff with a heart of gold whose wishes for a quick fix for his existential angst are answered in the form of a universal remote control that - get this - really controls the Universe. I would love to be able to say that hilarity ensues. In reality, though, what ensues is a sorry procession of fart jokes and scenes of dogs humping stuffed animals, leading our hero to realize that what really matters most in life isn’t money or fame but rather the simple joys of familial domesticity.
Also, there are a lot of jokes based on 1930’s-era racial stereotypes, but not in a post-ironic way, more like in a post-post-post ironic way, which my flat mate (an Oxford grad, no less) tells me is the point at which something stops being ironic and becomes merely embarrassing. However, after watching this film I am prepared to say (and you heard it here first, if you’re thinking about stealing credit when it comes true): Adam Sandler will be the next Tom Hanks. However, the approximately 1 minute 30 seconds of the film in which this is apparent are not worth the 105 minutes 30 seconds of the aforementioned fart/bestiality humor that constitute its bulk.
Will you like this film?
Yes if: You loved that horrifically precocious little girl who used to appear in the Pepsi adverts, and think that fart jokes are really, really funny.
No if: You are 14 years or older.
Maybe if: You’re into dogs humping stuffed animals. You know, in that way.
Comments: Click is a typical example of the new, “grown-up” Adam Sandler film. While Sandler’s classic characters were pot-smoking alcoholics (Billy Madison) or violence-prone oddballs (Happy Gilmore), Click’s Michael Newman is a hard working architect and family man with nary a vice to speak of, save the odd Twinkie. This follows a trajectory that Sandler has been charting since the release of 1999’s Big Daddy, from down-market clown to wholesome American everyman.
Click is a perfect example of the perils of a “down-the-middle” approach. By appealing to an adult market he abandons the raunchy humor that endeared him to an earlier generation of fans, yet the jokes are so juvenile that no serious adult will want to sit through the endless deluge of scatological humor. The jokes feel phoned in; the delivery of the one liners that used to be his forte falls achingly flat, ostensibly because he doesn’t seem to know to whom he is supposed to be directing them. Is he laughing with you or with your middle-aged father? Sandler’s special charm used to shine through in his ability to, with a nod and a wink, make you think he was speaking just to you, that you were sharing an inside joke. In Click, though, he comes across not like your obnoxiously witty pal, but more like that obnoxious guy on the metro who just doesn’t get why you don’t want to talk to him about “the rack on that chick there.”
After watching Click, it seems to me that the time has come for Adam Sandler to pick his poison: either he’s going to be your pal or he’s going to be your dad’s pal. This in-between stuff just isn’t working for anyone involved.
Out-of-five star ratings:
Story: *
Dialogue: *
Substance: **
FilmCraft: *
Story Comments: As mentioned above, the main plot point of the film centers around a generally likeable middle-class guy who, struggling to balance the crush of the workaday week with a (ridiculously hot and perfect) wife and two (horrifically precious) children, stumbles into a deal with the “you know who,” who provides him with a universal remote control that allows him to manipulate the powers of time and space. As things slowly spiral out of control he’s forced to learn a painful life lesson: how much more likeable and middle-class he has to become to find true happiness.
This is not a story that covers any creative ground that hasn’t been previously covered about a thousand times before, but to be fair, it does manage to retread that same ground in a relatively unimaginative and offensive manner. By the end of the film the moral of the story is painfully clear: as long as you’re married to Kate Beckinsale and can be happy with just being married to Kate Beckinsale, you too can have a wonderful life.
Dialogue Comments: I have to be honest: it’s so impossibly difficult to imagine that Kate Beckinsale would actually be married to a guy that looked like Adam Sandler that I couldn’t pay attention to a word that passed between them. I might as well have been in a coma the whole time they were together onscreen, except that I’ve heard that people in comas can actually remember some of the things that people around them said, so maybe it’s not an apt metaphor after all. No, wait, that’s actually not 100% true. I do remember that there was some embarrassingly trite phrase that they kept repeating to each other about how they would always be in love, but again, it was so unbelievable that it carries all the weight of a malarial fever-dream in my memory.
Having said that, Christopher Walken was, as always, a pleasure to watch during his unfortunately minimal screen time. His visual language of paroxysmal gesticulation, coupled with his dialogue, which was twisted into a awkwardly comic cocktail of mispronounced words and purposefully (?) mistimed syllabic stresses, evoke the memory of jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie. If Dizzy Gillespie did fart jokes, that is.
And, to be fair, every word that drips from the golden tongue of Hasselhoff resounds with a glory almost too great for human ears. He did drive Kit and personally tear down the Berlin Wall for God’s sake. That has to count for something.
Substance Comments: Ok. Truth time. There is a point during the film, which I won’t reveal for fear of spoiling, during which I kind of misted up. Maybe it has more to do with my own failed relationship with my father than the actual substance of the film, but it kind of got me there for a moment, like one of those Hallmark commercials they have on TV where the kid comes back from his first year at college and hugs his parents and his dad chucks him on the shoulder and they go outside to play basketball and live happily ever after in the dull haze of middle-America, but not before his father gives him a greeting card telling him just how proud he is of his little boy who’s now become a man. It’s not exactly the stuff that great literature is made of, but it is good for tug on the old heartstrings, and that’s exactly what the self-consciously dramatic portions of this film are designed to do.
Having said that, I felt twice as dirty after succumbing to this film’s manipulation than any Hallmark advert I’ve ever seen. But then again, no Hallmark advert ever had Kate Beckinsale in it (to my knowledge), and she just kind of makes me feel dirty in general. You know, in that way.
Filmcraft comments: This film features perhaps the most disturbing use of digital effects I’ve ever seen. Anywhere. Ever. It makes those creepy Hoover commercials with Fred Astaire dancing with a vacuum cleaner from beyond the grave seem as comforting as warm apple pie on a Sunday afternoon. It makes the scenes with Jabba The Hut from the digital remake of Star Wars seem brilliant in comparison. It made me not like Julie Kavner (playing Newman’s mother), and, for the love of God, she’s Marge Simpson. Remember the plastic surgery lady from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil? Well, compared to Kavner she looks like, well, Kate Beckinsale.
Otherwise the direction and cinematography were relatively inoffensive, aside from the odd nausea-inducing rapid pan across the New York skyline.
A taste of the story: Suburban family man uses his newfound omnipotence to speed through traffic jams and view breasts in slow motion. Hilarity ensues?
322.Oui Oui  
Oui Oui
Walking into Zheltoye More, the first thing that struck me was how much pink there was. The whole courtyard was submerged in neon pink light, which enhanced the pink roses that had been liberally strewn around. Geisha girls attired in pink silk kimonos proffered ornately carved miniature boats packed with succulent pink sushi, while display cases of pink china dolls lined up down one wall. The overall impression was that the entire room had been dipped in candyfloss, with the exception perhaps of the groups of models distributing free cigarettes, who were incongruously dressed as Greek goddesses.
This saccharine environment was created as a backdrop to a gig by curious Japanese trio Oui Oui. Put together on an ad hoc basis to play at fashion events and clubs, Oui Oui consist of two almost identical vocalists – Maki Nomiya (a former member of the slightly better known retro-popsters Pizzicato Five) and Rieko Teramoto, who are backed up by DJ Noboru on the decks. A true Renaissance man, DJ Noburo also does the girls’ matching hair and makeup. They’re not a group that I was familiar with beforehand, and given that the crowd was largely comprised of bull-necked biznezmen and their gamine, teetering 20-yr old girlfriends I doubt they had too many longstanding fans in the audience.
The event was however so well prepared that there was a palpable sense of excitement in the room when DJ Noboru strutted out on stage in his red velvet pimp suit. As he broke out the first tune (a remix of Buggles’ ‘video killed the radiostar’) the girls came on in identical kimonos, twirled their parasols and sang in shrill Japanese while performing a sychronised dance routine. The effect was total kitsch, and the trouble with kitsch is that, no matter how well it’s put together, it’s got as much substance as the soap bubbles that blow out into the crowd while Oui Oui perfom.
After a couple of very similar tunes the novelty wore off and the biznezmen went back to fumbling with their chopsticks and comparing ostentatious watches. Sensing this dissipation Maki and Rieko appeared to give up too, and spent much of the remainder of their set standing listlessly behind the decks while DJ Noboru cheerfully leapt around blowing a whistle.
Uniquely for a pop group, Oui Oui have yet to release any recordings. This is probably a good thing, since listening to their music for a protracted period of time was almost as painful as having to pay 500r for a drink at Zheltoye More’s bar. Despite this, I would definitely recommend checking out one if their infrequent gigs should you get the chance – the meticulously prepared surroundings made for an entirely unique event, and Oui Oui’s performance was original and entertaining… for ten minutes. So long as you concentrate on your sushi rather than the music you should have an enjoyable evening!
323.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.
324.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.
325.Mouse On Mars  
Mouse On Mars
Returning to Russia for their second time, the avant-garde electronic group Mouse on Mars hypnotized the crowd and left the house screaming for more at a packed B2. The show was incredible, and the Expat Site was also lucky enough to talk with one of the most intellectual and humble bands to ever come out of Germany. The members, Jan St.Werner and Andi Toma, took a break from recording their upcoming album to play an energy saturated set in Moscow, and their coming has pushed the club scene here one step closer to what it should be.
In case you haven’t heard their music, you may have a hard time imagining what exactly Mouse on Mars is like. Explained Toma: “There’s something going on with non-linear dynamics order from chaos. Trying to understand forms and structures, and building it all up. It's music that feeds the music. We don’t have a clue what music is, but it's so complex that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it just slips away.” In other words, Mouse on Mars can’t easily be put into any category. “Maybe there’s a file for what we do, but we don’t know” added St.Werner.
At midnight exactly Mouse on Mars took the stage. Hunched over their table, side by side, a cigarette dangling from St.Werner's mouth, they began their set with sounds like a distorted and undulating Moog Keyboard. For several minutes there was nothing but that particular sound of controlled chaos as the audience seemed to size up what would happen next. Booming bass frequencies swelled up from oblivion while Toma whispered and clicked into a small microphone. His voice came back from a sampler as crisp as a snare drum sonically and repeating hypnotically as a quick and spontaneous drum line. True to the bands philosophy, their set at B2 was pure experimentation; a manifestation of music as stream of consciousness.
They performed standing over a single table that overflowed with samplers, synthesizers, drum machines and a laptop computer all wired together into a swirling mass of synchronization. Their first song ended as ethereally as it had begun. They didn’t play their way through a predetermined set, but simply let the sounds take shape and evolve spontaneously. When I had asked if they felt that their music was more intellectual or more emotional they responded that ‘life is physical and immediate and the music is about that. We don’t really compose, we just let things out… our music is immediate.’ What this meant for the audience was a set not of songs in the traditional sense, but of a process of trying to take in the building, layering, progression, and regression that the band spontaneously creates.
The music of Mouse on Mars was unique in its honesty, and the mostly young and male audience demonstrated their intellect by cheering for encores that kept the show going until just before two in the morning. The impressive sound system at B2, one of the best in Moscow, did the music justice throughout all of its sonic u-turns from scream to whisper, low-pitch to high, and the visuals projected behind the band were mesmerizing. A hip audience, a daring band, and a great venue made for the type of concert that Moscow needs to see more often.
326.Captain Comatose  
Captain Comatose
Enjoying the beautiful weather in the courtyard of Art Garbage on Friday evening, I was standing in the corner waiting for a friend when two exuberant characters spilled out of the building and started motioning to the crowd to make there way towards the stage inside. When your correspondent failed to respond immediately by running inside to secure a front-row position, a sinister character toting a bucket of champagne grabbed her by the hand clearing up any confusion by showing her the door to the stage. Clearly the show was about to begin. And what a show it was!
Captain Comatose, the duo of DJ Snax from New York, and Khan from Berlin treated an enthusiastic crowd to a truly spectacular performance- or should I say spectacle. Captain Comatose are not your run-of-the-mill house DJs. The duo prides itself on its interactive performances - they like to bring the party to the people.
Jumping into the crowd at several points, walking across tables, and even joking with the stone-faced security guards - the performance was pure fun. As Khan says, "We're definitely a disco band, in the true sense." Snax cites his influences as DC go-go and 80s R & B, both of which are very performance-oriented.
In fact, the group at points was more reminiscent of the Village People than house music, with a construction hat replaced by Khan's paper Burger King crown and Snax looking disco fabulous sporting a 70s Afro hairstyle.
Khan and Snax opened with Mr. Monkey followed by Comatose Captain. The energy level began high and only increased throughout the show. $100, a hit single from their most recent album, Going Out was tailored to the Moscow crowd as 100 rubles/dollars.
A sleazy mix of electro, disco and house, Captain Comatose fuses sounds from the different worlds of music into an irresistible groove that is only enhanced by the entertainment qualities of these talented performers. At points soulful, at others highly sexual, Khan and Snax quickly transition from one genre to another, with a lively house beat throughout.
The duo appear to be constantly upping the tempo on themselves, bringing something exciting and different to the crowd every minute. They seem to generate their own energy and radiate it to the audience, wading through the crowd at several points - thereby dissolving that imaginary line between stage and dance floor, artist and audience.
The energy and dynamism of Captain Comatose was as integral to the show as the music itself. The audience felt like it had gained entry into the studio of two rambunctious kids excitedly playing with their noisemaking toys - which ranged from the more traditional keyboard to a cow bell.
Not wanting to end even their own show, Khan and Snax invited all present to accompany them to Mio for their live DJ set later in the evening. Unfortunately your correspondent missed the second act from this energetic duo, but has no doubt that it was every bit as captivating as the first to which she was treated at Art Garbage.
Khan and Snax met in Berlin in 1996 when Snax was DJ'ing at a 3000 Fashion Show, at which point they realized that they were practically neighbors in New York City. They began recording together in 2000 and have made 5 albums together. In 2002 they relocated to Berlin, capital of electronic music, where they began their live act.
327.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. www.tretyakovgallery.ru.
328.The Forgotten / By J.Ruben /  
The Forgotten / By J.Ruben /
A friend told me once before that if a movie runs exactly at t