Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

When West meets East, is Moscow really ready?

Not so long ago I was invited to visit a friend at her office and, emerging from the metro at the Kievsky Vokzal stop, headed toward the Slavjanskaya Hotel.

It was on that beautiful June day that I saw the hotel for the first time, although I have lived in Moscow my whole life.

Just imagine the scene. The square outside the train station, filled with a sea of humanity. People with suitcases, baskets, sacks, children, some of whom can't leave for the moment for all sorts of rail-related reasons: The train did not arrive, or had already left, or will not be available today at all, there are no tickets, or there are tickets to the wrong place.

And there is nowhere to spend the night, so people are rushing about Moscow looking for a hotel. But right nearby looms this colossus like a petrified Titanic, filled with marble, mirrors, a fountain and where the quiet is disturbed only by a pianist playing Chopin.

I started wondering how it had been possible to build a hotel next to the train station that nobody from this country could use - not only now, but for decades to come.

Of course, the economy is developing according to its own laws. But can this take place while ignoring the "human factor"? Indeed, sometimes this "factor" has nowhere to stay at night.

In my opinion the first step should be to build something for the majority, and only then for people who make a lot of money and want to live more comfortably.

The fact that there is now a McDonalds in Moscow is a good thing. It has been working fine for over a year and the lines to get in are as they used to be outside the Mausoleum; the people standing in line don't feel like unwelcome guests there, even though it's a bit expensive.

But the Slavjanskaya stands beside the train station like an exhibit from another civilization - and the people rushing about outside have only one thought in mind: where to spend the night?

I understand of course that foreign businessmen coming to Moscow prefer to live in the comfort to which they are accustomed. But considering the extremely unstable situation in this country, one must ask whether the comfort is worth what many Russians must perceive as a form of social injustice.

Maybe in Budapest, Prague or Warsaw such a hotel would fit in better, it would blend with the landscape of these cities and be of more use. But in my opinion, at least, Moscow is not ready for this.