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Red Squares

It would have been easy to bookend the trip by visiting the two embalmed leaders, Mao and Lenin, at either end. But we’re not that keen on either leader and preserving someone after their dead is just plain creepy. So we resolve to skip that part of the itinerary and make for St Basil’s – the grand church that is synonymous with Moscow and indeed Russia.

Also known less catchily as Pokrovsky Cathedral, the church was built to celebrate Ivan the Terrible’s victory over the Tartars in the 16th century. As we approach there’s a small parade of old people marching under the hammer and sickle flag singing Soviet songs. There are placards of Lenin held up and some good-natured shouting so it’s hard to work out: are they calling for a return to Soviet rule or are they just nostalgic?

Out the front of the State History Museum, the reminiscing is even cheesier. Lenin, Stalin and Brezhnev impersonators work the area, allowing tourists to snap them waving the Russian flag or downing a Pepsi for a couple of hundred roubles. Old Joe seems far too jolly and Vladimir Ilyich has let himself go with a bit of a paunch.

Red Square is no less impressive for all its surrounds. St Basil’s seems unreal and the Kremlin walls could still be a fortress. There’s a lot of posing in front of Lenin’s tomb but the embalmed version seems less creepy after the impersonators.


  1. George, Moscow looks a bit like Flemington, Victoria, with all those baubled bits on top of the buildings. St Basils could be our post office or court. There's also a campaign to embalm some of our local leaders, although - alas for them - they're still alive. Maybe it's time for a revolution.

    As you can see, I'm trying to make myself feel a tad merrier about not being in Russia. Thanks to your blog, it at least feels like I've seen some places beyond Racecourse Rd. Looking forward to the next instalment.



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