Category Archives: Moscow

2018 Xmas: The Terrifying Beauty of Industrialisation


This was the view from my window a few days ago. I wrote once that I had always been presented with a difficult choice between some lovely scenery of my district and the ugly industrial sites overshadowing it.

Looking at this photo that came out rather well made me recall George Orwell’s admitting that industry can, in fact, be designed to look beautiful, in order to conceal everything that is unwholesome about it. And indeed, many plants and factories today are built to be pleasing to the eye. They are no longer those terrifying gigantic blocks of brick or steel; instead, they are often light in both colour and shape to look elegant and inviting. To the younger generations industry has nothing to do with unhealthy vapours, low pay and child labour. 

The picture thus illustrates my favourite topic of what we choose to focus on. Considering this is the view I am most likely to see from my window, the question is: what do I look at? Do I look at the thermal electric station in the distance and pity myself, or do I look at the trees, the vast terrain and the sunset and enjoy the natural beauty? 

I am pretty sure you know my answer.

The BBC Shopping Centre in Moscow

I was recently near Otradnoe metro station in Moscow’s North when a shopping centre caught my eye. And it did for no other reason than its name. It is called in Russian “торговый центр ВВС”. While ” торговый центр” literally means “shopping centre”, it’s less clear as to the meaning of “BBC”. And I dare say meaning is not the most important thing. The font is. Because the font is almost identical to the one the British Broadcasting Corporation uses.

World War One Memorial Park In Moscow

Until recently Russia celebrated the victory in the Patriotic War against Napoleon in 1812 and in the Great Patriotic War against Hitler in 1945. I spent 7 years in the country that faithfully celebrates the Armistice Day on November 11 that marks the end of one of the most tragic conflicts in world history in the 20th c., the First World War.

Although the Second World War was by many accounts more devastating, it is generally regarded as the outcome of the World War One and as such it was not unexpected. World War One also did not come out of the blue, being the consequence of the collapse of the Viennese system established in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. And yet, whereas the nations tried to prevent the Second World War, the World War One was received with cheers, as if Europe was one huge playground where kids with rifles were going to enjoy themselves. Sadly, it immediately became obvious that there would be no quick results, and Europe slid down into one long killing spree.

European, British in paritcular, cities and towns are planted with cenotaphs commemorating the war effort, the victims, and the eventual victory of the Entente powers in the World War One. The victory was ridden with ambiguity, as all countries, France in particular, attempted to get the better out of Germany to solve their own post-war problems – forgetting along the way that Germany was just as penniless and devasted by war, as the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, Germany remained to be seen as an aggressor and a war-wager, and the  World War One continues to be regarded as a glorious page in European history, rather than a story of human folly.

Russia withdrew from the war following the Bolshevik Revolution, with a separate peace treaty signed by Russia and Germany in Brest-Litovsk in March 1918. Since the World War One was imperialist by nature, it is little wonder that in Soviet times it was given by a passing mention. The novels like And Quiet Flows the Don by Mikhail Sholokhov detailed the Russian part in the war, along with the growing disdain for the imperial power and the obligation to fight. But even then ordinary soldiers who fought in the war were barely remembered, as the war belonged to the tsarist, pre-Socialist part that had to be forgotten, and the sooner the better.

Now the situation has changed. The park dedicated to World War One in Moscow is located in the territory of 11,5 hectares in a walking distance from Sokol metro station. Presently there are many green stretches, and commemorative monuments have been pleasantly incorporated into the landscape. There is a small chapel on a hill and a few cenotaphs. A monument at the park’s entry (from Sokol metro station) reminds us that in the park’s grounds the first common cemetery to the soldiers and medical sisters who died in the war had been created as early  as 1915. Those graves had been subsequently moved to another cemetery, but the present park is located in the cemetery grounds. It is a peaceful and solemn place where one can’t help but meditate on life and death, war and peace.

World War One Park in Moscow – Entry Memorial

 

World War One Park in Moscow –
To the Victims of the World War 1914-1919

 

World War One Park in Moscow –
A Memorial Close-Up

 

World War One Park in Moscow –
Aviators Memorial
World War One Park in Moscow –
One of the cenotaphs

 

World War One Park in Moscow –
One of the cenotaphs

 

World War One Park in Moscow – A Chapel

 

World War One Park in Moscow –
Moscow To the Dead Russian Soldiers

 

World War One Park in Moscow –
A Second World War Memorial

 

World War One Park in Moscow –
A Church Monument

 

World War One Park in Moscow –
One of the cenotaphs, featuring the symbols
of principal military awards
World War One Park in Moscow –
A commemorative stone on the former location
of the common cemetery for soldiers and
medical sisters from Moscow communities
who died in the World War One

The Gandhi Angel In the Heart of Moscow

You may have heard of the heavy snowfalls that came down on Moscow in the last few days. While such snowfalls usually play a few tricks with the appearances of people and buildings, this year’s award doubtless goes to the bust of Mohandas Gandhi that stands in the inner yard of the Foreign Literature Library in Moscow. From the side the heap of snow on his head makes him look like wearing a Phrygian cap, whereas from the front he appears like an angel, complete with wings. The Gandhi Angel, no less.

Moscow Winter Events

Not long after I came back from Tarusa a chain of various events ensued, mostly pleasant. I attended the opening of two exhibitions at the Central House of the Artist and previewed the other two there; met with a few friends at various lovely places, and finally attended the first night of Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin stages by Nikolai Kolyada and performed as part of Kolyada Festival at the theatre centre “Na Strastnom”. Presently I’m sitting in one of my favourite cafes after a good productive afternoon at the Foreign Literature Library where I have been working on one of the projects I mentioned last year. And frankly, little can put you into the right working mood than the following sights that you see immediately upon leaving the house.

As a matter of fact, two girls who sit behind me chat about movies, one of them boasting that she can “predict” the twists and turns of the characters’ destinies. Both also discover their shared longing for the beauty and simplicity of the old films, namely The Breakfast at Tiffany’s.