Moscow's mayor wants to paint the town red - and green and purple
the Russian capital throws a rainbow cloak over the grim buildings left by the Soviet regime
Saturday 07 December 1996
Among the buildings due to receive the Luzhkov treatment, according to the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets, is the famous House on the Embankment. The grey constructivist monster was built for top Bolshevik leaders but gradually emptied in the Thirties as Stalin's secret police arrived night after night to drag the residents away to labour camps. Now it houses rich Russian and foreign tenants.
The newspaper did not say what colour had been chosen for the grim building but the cost of its redecoration alone would be one billion roubles or $180,000, it said.
In Soviet times, the Kremlin, with its red walls and golden-domed cathedrals inside, provided virtually the only colour in Moscow.
Mr Luzhkov, a practical and energetic politician, has already done much to brighten up the city, restoring the Christ the Saviour Cathedral which was demolished under Stalin, renovating the zoo and opening new shopping complexes. On Manege Square, just under the Kremlin wall, a huge new mall is being built.
Already fountains and sculptures depicting scenes from Russian fairy tales are drawing the crowds.
Conservationists may dislike Mr Luzhkov but he is generally popular among Muscovites, who returned him with a resounding vote of confidence in city elections earlier this year. He is tipped as a possible successor to President Boris Yeltsin.
Apart from the efforts of Mr Luzhkov, capitalism itself is helping to make Moscow a more cheerful city.
Neon now lights up the winter sky and advertising bill boards make more amusing reading than the Communist slogans of the past. Lately, Muscovites have been puzzled by giant pictures of a young woman and the message "I love you". What was this selling? It turned out that a rich businessman simply wanted to flatter his wife.
But despite improvements in the centre, the outskirts remain relentlessly drab.
Where the metro stops, crowds of sullen people clutching string bags wait for overloaded buses to take them to the grey, high-rise flats in the suburbs.
The rich may have renovated flats in pastel-coloured former palaces on the inner boulevard, only a walk away from their favourite restaurants and night clubs.
But extreme poverty is the lot of most. Yesterday, the same newspaper reported that an old man had hanged himself because he could not afford to pay for his wife's funeral.
The danger is that Mr Luzhkov will be compared to Catherine the Great's lover, Grigory Potemkin, famous for his stage-set villages with nothing solid behind the facade.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Yemen crisis: Meet the child soldiers who have forsaken books for Kalashnikovs
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...