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One thing hasn't changed about Moscow: strong police presence. Although most travel restrictions are gone, the government requires that all people 'register' their presence in a newly visited city within three business days. Actually this rule applies everywhere in Russia, but only Moscow seems to follow it strictly. We registered with our host: to register means to have your visa stamped at a special government office or by someone qualified to do it. We still don't know where the special office is located - the entire process is not clearly understood even by Russian citizens. We ran into the 'state machine' today. Without provocation, a Russian police officer stopped us on the street and said, "Show me your papers." We watched him solemnly examine our passports and visas. He proclaimed we had a problem and threatened us with the word "station." He motioned us to his car. Apparently he wanted to take us down to the police station. We had heard from other tourists and locals that the best thing to do in this situation was offer a bribe (300 roubles or $10). Since we had time on our hands, and typical American naivete about the sanctity of individual rights, we decided to try something else. While the police officer acted like an angry defender of justice, we acted like dim-witted tourists. Careful to be pleasant and polite, we wore down our adversary with blank looks, shoulder shrugs and dull smiles. After 30 minutes of this treatment he let us go. This method worked again when we were stopped another time by a different policeman. As Americans we found it strange to be randomly stopped and asked to show papers; we guess it's a small insight into the living conditions of a totalitarian state.
"Your papers, comrade?"
Russian churches make a great skyline
The ominous buildings are pillars of communist rule - built by Stalin, six of these towers stand over the city and say - "big brother is watching!"
Russian tourists - the Orthodox women wear headcovers - at the Cannon of the Kremlin; this cannon was a great achievement - biggest in the world - but it never fired a shot. It's next to the biggest bell in the world that never once rang. Big things that don't work, very Russian.