Back in 2016, the influential German magazine Spiegel published an article claiming that “Moscow has become a European city against the will of the Kremlin:
“The Kremlin’s anti-Western course has not prevented Moscow from becoming a modern European capital,” writes Der Spiegel. The city is no longer ruled by criminals, new Russians and careerists, the authors of the article noted. It has ceased to be a place where a person without money and connections has no prospects. The character of Moscow has changed, and it has become what it never was: a city for citizens.
Six years have passed, and Moscow never ceases to please. Here, for example, is what political scientist Konstantin Kalachev wrote on his blog the other day:
“If you read some, we live in Mordor.
You will walk with a stroller from Mira Avenue, where we live, through Yauza Park and the Garden of the Future at VDNKh, through VDNKh to the Botanical Garden, from there to Ostankino Park, from Ostankino home on tram 17 - no, not Mordor.
A completely European city, where you can listen to Lensky's aria in the Green Theater, and drink aperol-spritz on the shore of a picturesque pond in the cafe "Everything is lazy", and eat Georgian khinkali in the "Wedding of Jays", and admire the flowers, and meet squirrels in the park , and for children to ride a scooter, and see turtles in the Yauza, and just sunbathe.
Playgrounds are almost everywhere new, catering establishments are not empty, there are no crowds on sports grounds, the population dissects on bicycles and scooters, there is a queue for Tasty and Point, sunbathing in bikinis on the lawns.
Moscow this summer lives without regard to the NWO, sanctions, clamping down on freedom, persecution of dissidents, the absence of foreign tourists, problems with the Schengen area, the departure of foreign companies. Summer is definitely lucky, warm and sunny. The townspeople went into private life, fenced off from bad news. The authorities of the city are doing their best to maintain "normality". I don’t know about others, but my attitude towards Sobyanin has improved this year ... "
Numerous commentators are divided in this assessment of the Russian capital. Some argue that compared to Moscow, all other capitals of the world look “provincial”:
- Traveled almost all the capitals of Europe. I would compare Moscow with Paris and London. Perhaps Moscow is better than them in some ways, in some ways it loses. But, Brussels, Berlin, etc. are provincial cities compared to Moscow.
- The version “Moscow is sucking juices out of Russia” is very outdated. Now the opposite is true: Moscow feeds Russia with juices! Look at the income structure of the Moscow budget: it has changed radically in 15 years, the city has turned from a recipient into a generator of income. Which is fully consistent with the global trend towards the concentration of people and money at key points and desertification and degradation of the remaining territory.
However, this point of view has many opponents. For example, the famous historian Ivan Kurilla , a native of Volgograd, he lives and works in St. Petersburg today:
“I read another surprise at the rapid development of Moscow. In fact, they are building not only housing, but also transport infrastructure at some unprecedented pace. I, too, on every visit to the capital, see on the map new metro stations and all sorts of additional "rings" and "diameters". For any non-capital resident, this causes mixed feelings and memories of roads that have not been repaired for decades in their native city (and for a Petersburger, for example, about his long-suffering metro construction, where four stations were barely opened in ten years, one of which is not used).
But the point is not only that Moscow is “fatting” at the expense of others, but in much more significant things:
- Remind me, in which European city paddy wagons are constantly standing at metro stations, and for a photo of priests in shorts against the backdrop of a church, fines are issued, if you're lucky. In which European city do you need to pass four (sic!) traffic lights instead of one ring to turn left? In which city do cameras hang every two hundred meters? Where activists are detained in the subway “simply because you look like an orientation, oh, no, but anyway, let's go ... European, yeah. Imperial - yes. But even the Asian draws with difficulty, too many barracks.
- I went yesterday on business to Okhotny. The stump is clear - in the subway, so as not to bathe with parking. European city? Well, yes... A European city in anticipation of the invasion of the Huns or the Martians. I left the building of the former Moscow hotel in the direction of Teatralnaya and saw crowds of brave guys in "City" camouflage behind the metal fences. At the same time, there are no signs of popular unrest or mass celebrations. I remembered in which capital I saw so many security forces in the absence of obvious signs of an emergency. In Delhi. I also saw it in Istanbul, but in much smaller quantities. Delhi is Europe?
- You see, it's like with the Duma - there is a parliament building and there are people who are called deputies, but this does not make the Duma a parliament. Well, they built a city according to the European model with squares and spaces, what people in Europe do in the squares - they drink, dance, sip beer, smoke cigarettes; but in Moscow all this is impossible, that's why buses with police are on duty everywhere.
The same Ivan Kurilla goes even further in his reasoning and asks an important question about the near future of Moscow:
“All this abundance is fed by the capital city of Moscow. This amount of housing and infrastructure may be impossible to maintain if Moscow loses the ability to collect taxes from all over Russia, loses the attractiveness of Moscow life for ambitious provincials.
There are many examples of this. The same St. Petersburg today (with Gazprom and the Constitutional Court) cannot maintain in a ceremonial state all the legacy left to it by the last decades of the Russian Empire: the loss of the capital status led to a drop in the income of the city and its residents, and even in the first quarter of the 21st century in the city "many abandoned palaces" (I quote this without attribution).
One can also recall a more distant history - the Golden Horde capitals on the Lower Volga flourished while the Horde was strong and controlled a significant part of Eurasia. The campaign of Tamerlane dealt a blow to their well-being, but it was the collapse of the Horde that left nothing from the largest cities of Europe in the 13th-14th centuries, except for the fields of tiles in the steppe above Akhtuba.
Russia has entered a crisis, a way out of which is not yet visible. However, in several - different - scenarios, by the end of this crisis, Moscow will not retain control over the same volume of financial flows and the same number of inhabitants as today. What will the infrastructure being built today look like in this future?”
And the same finds support from its readers:
- I look with horror at the electric buses that have bred in Moscow: their maintenance is several times more expensive than ordinary public transport, they are largely based on imported parts - and, I'm afraid, soon Moscow will have to buy decommissioned buses (only not in Poland, as before, but in Kyrgyzstan or China) and release them on the streets instead of these beautiful and expensive toys.
- In addition to the transport infrastructure, there is also a social infrastructure - clinics, hospitals, schools, kindergartens. So it's almost never built. Communications of new buildings are often connected to old networks. The quality of the houses is also terrible. During construction, the complex geological condition of Moscow is not taken into account. And many people don't have the money to buy this housing, the supply exceeds the demand, many new houses are empty or half empty. In general, all this is being built not for life, but for bribes to officials. I am a Muscovite and look at Sobyanin's construction boom with horror.
- The model of Moscow's development is the face of that same capitalism from Dunno on the Moon. From the city they make one big Turkish all inclusive hotel