Moscow: polarities

A city of transitions
A city of transitions

There are few cities in the world where the obvious signs of polarity in ideologies, culture and politics come are reflected on the way of life than in that of Moscow.

Once the cold beacon of Soviet authoritarianism, today the traces of its past remain – broad boulevards, imposing buildings and Stalinist towers which dot the cityscape. Yet the city in itself is evolving in the emergence of western brands and outlet stores, the streets clogged with Porsche’s and Audi’s and the largest business district in Europe is nearing completion. These are not just signs of the economic resurgence of the post-soviet era but of the localised wealth which acts as the concentration of material wealth within an urban core. A fact which is polarised by the city’s and state’s inherently orthodox approach to public life, where religion still plays a key role in defining and explaining action.

This eclectic mix of old, new and the spiritual is what forms the ethos of the city as regional development frays against conservatism – this abrasion is what builds present day Moscow, a city on the move yet one which retains its old traditions.

On a political level in adhering to the old “east” and “west” Moscow has become the amalgamation of the two on an economic and to an extent on a social level. Whilst culturally and politically it’s still very much rooted in the central Asian plateau both in demographics, laws and the way it shapes its policies in facing east. A fact symbolised by the vast swathes of Central Asian workers on its streets and the flow of Mongolian and Chinese tourists among them.

The global shift of economics and influence is retained between Asia and the west – with Russia sitting between said poles – allowing it to project influence whilst remaining autonomous to its neighbours. Hence why future economic developments will be most fascinating to watch in how an old union of states seek to affirm their place upon the international marketplace.

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