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We visited the Kremlin, that Communist bastion that has turned into a bustling tourist attraction. How would Stalin feel if he knew thousands of capitalist tourists strolled past his grave, walked through the Kremlin walls, and snapped photos of the Supreme Soviet each day? By all acounts he wouldn't recognize 21st century Moscow. The city reflects Russia's quickly changing culture. Muscovites believe their home is Russia's only real city, even St. Petersburg is considered provincial. More Western stores, advertisements, and restaurants stand in Moscow than any other Russian city. Whereas the Communist Regime frowned on overt displays of wealth, Russia's 'new rich' flaunt their wealth by driving mercedes and wearing Italian clothes. Moscow breathes with a mute tension between the rich and poor. The vast majority of Russians live without extra money or savings accounts. These people see the luxury enjoyed by a few extremely rich Russians, as well as the evidence of great wealth shown by tourists or in foreign media and film. Our Russian host families revealed a sense of their frustations in wan smiles and lukewarm sentiments about a free market system. "I guess it's [capitalism] good for the young people," was the best thing one man said to us. Almost every Russian who discussed politics was upset that the formerly all-powerful Soviet Union had fallen into impotence on the world political stage. Moscow has an air of recklessness leftover from the anarchistic days that followed immediately after the fall of Communism. The reckless air exists today in the form of open parties, frequent public drunkeness, and flashy 24-hour nightclubs. Multiple padlocks and double reinforced doors show how serious our hosts believe in Russia's current instability. Yet the menace of this instability lies hidden in most instances. The streets are alive with people. Progress manifests itself in many construction sites around the city. As tourists we enjoy the Moscow scene; it's an engaging mix between exciting big city, Western comforts, and Eastern influences like in the turban spires of Russian Orthodox churches.
Comrade Jillovna (Jill Lizovna) before the Kremlin
Weslovich on Red Square
Literally an underground music scene. In the metro and street underpasses we heard heavy metal rock bands, violin concertos, or one-man accordian shows. They all sounded great with tunnel acoustics.