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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

On a Deputy's Life, After Hours

It is 9: 45 P. M. in the lobby of the Rossiya Hotel and People's Deputy Bronislav Babayev has just returned from the opera "The Stone Guest" at the Bolshoi Theater.

"It's a wonderful opera", he said Wednesday night. "But you really must see Faust. I saw that one last night".

As the People's Deputy from Ivanova, a city located about 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow, Babayev is taking full advantage of his right to buy discount tickets at the Kremlin Palace.

But in terms of perks, the good old days of being a People's Deputy ended with the death of Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko in 1985. Hotel employees say that these days deputies sometimes work until 3 A. M. yet receive slip-shod service from the staff that once rolled out the red carpet for them.

To see the truth of this you need to look no further than the treatment deputies now receive inside the 5, 300-bed Rossiya, the world's largest hotel, where most are staying during the present session of the Congress which opened Wednesday.

"Truthfully, nobody really wants to serve the deputies", whispered the hotel's head waiter, Konstantin Konstantinov, in an interview in the main dining room Wednesday. "Because they are deputies, they expect to pay very low prices for everything".

Such low-key enthusiasm for the Congress is a far cry from the hoopla that once surrounded these international events in the days of the Soviet Union. In those times, when a Congress was in session, the entire hotel would be occupied by deputies, their families and representatives from East Bloc and even capitalist countries.

The sprawling square-shaped hotel, one kilometer to a side, was built near St. Basil's Cathedral in 1971 especially for the visiting People's Deputies of the U. S. S. R. and their entourage. "When the Congress was in session, there were so many different languages you could hear", said the head waiter in the Severny Restaurant, who has worked in the hotel for 21 years. "It was really exciting. Now, it's no big deal".

In the past, the waiter recalled, the premier perk for deputies was the right to shop in a store, located on the hotel's second-floor, which was specially stocked with the best Soviet-made goods from each republic.

"There were fur hats from Kazakhstan, televisions from the Baltics, rugs from Azerbaijan and cognac from Georgia", he said. "Deputies could take home wonderful presents".

The present living conditions for deputies in the Rossiya Hotel are somewhat less luxurious.

Just 1, 300 rooms are presently assigned to deputies. A visitor to the hotel would barely notice anything out of the ordinary if not for the abundance of security guards. A special travel bureau for city tours for deputies was canceled because no one was willing to operate it for the low prices deputies expect to pay, according to Rogovoy, head of the hotel's motor pool.

As in the past, there are special menus for the deputies in the hotel restaurants, but the only thing different is that the prices are lower.

"The food is exactly the same as usual", said Konstantinov. "Compared to the food we served when the Irish House had their banquet here, what the deputies eat is garbage".

"How can I feel sorry for them? " he continued. "It's the way the country is now. Everything depends on money. Why should it be any different for them? "

Deputy Babayev agreed.

"It's just the way things are in the country now", he said. "We were once a rich country. Now we are a poor country. Today is worse than yesterday. Tomorrow will be worse than today. That's just the way it is".