Patriarch's Funeral to Jam the Streets

MTTraffic backing up on the Garden Ring during Patriarch Alexy II's wake at Christ the Savior Cathedral on Monday.
City traffic came to a standstill Monday as streets around the Christ the Savior Cathedral were closed while people paid their respects to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, who died Friday. Tuesday will be worse, when more streets will be closed for Alexy's funeral.

The line of people showing up to say goodbye was more than 1 kilometer long on Monday despite the heavy rain.

Radio shows and Internet forums were full of people complaining that it took them two to three hours to get to work on Monday and that the already-overcrowded metro would be the only option on Tuesday if they wanted to move about within the city.

Traffic jams stretched into the Moscow region on Monday as a result of the street closures, Interfax reported.

The city police have asked drivers to refrain from using their cars in the city center on Tuesday, since the streets leading from Christ the Savior Cathedral to the Epiphany Cathedral, where Alexy will be buried in one of the side chapels, will be closed, Itar-Tass reported.

"We urgently ask drivers to avoid using their cars, especially in central Moscow," a spokesman from the City Police said, Interfax reported.

"Judging from the situation on the city's streets, Muscovites don't listen to recommendations or requests from city authorities," he said. "As a result, they lose their time in the traffic jams instead of saving it by using public transport and the metro."

The requiem service is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Christ the Savior Cathedral, and the procession will set out for the Epiphany Cathedral at 1 p.m. The burial ceremony there is scheduled to last until 4 p.m.

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
People braving the rain while lining up outside Christ the Savior Cathedral late Monday to bid farewell to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, whose casket is on display inside. The traffic police advised people to take public transportation Tuesday to avoid traffic jams connected to the patriarch's burial.
Among the foreign guests expected to attend are Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, Serbian President Boris Tadic and Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has sent a special delegation to the funeral.

Metro officials said Monday that they are expecting a busier Tuesday than usual, but the system is prepared to deal with the extra riders.

"We are not taking any extra measures Tuesday," metro spokesman Pavel Sukharnikov said Monday. "The metro will work at its usual rhythm and can deal with any problems."

The metro carries some 9.5 million passengers daily -- more than those of New York and London combined.

The country's three national, state-controlled television channels -- Rossia, Channel One and NTV -- said Monday that they would not broadcast commercials or entertainment programs from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. in observance of the funeral ceremonies, Interfax reported. Mayor Yury Luzhkov has ordered that all New Year's lighting be turned off until midnight Tuesday, the report said.

Ostozhenka and Prechistenka ulitsas and Soimonovsky Proyezd were closed to traffic Monday and will remain closed through Tuesday. At 6 a.m. Tuesday, City Police will close Maroseika, Pokrovka, Novoryazanskaya, Spartakovskaya, Bakuninskaya and Staraya Basmannaya ulitsas as well as Razgulyai Square and Yelokhovsky Proyezd.

Mokhovaya, Znamenka, Nikitskaya, Tverskaya, Petrovka and Myasnitskaya ulitsas, Okhotny Ryad, Pokrovsky and Chistoprudny bulvars, Teatralny Proyezd, Borovitskaya and Manezh squares and the Garden Ring at the intersection with Ulitsa Pokrovka will be closed for part of the day for the funeral procession.