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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rossiya, Where Roaches and Rodents Play

Alevtina, a floor attendant at the massive Rossiya hotel, was a little nervous about discussing the establishment's plague of cockroaches, but graphic enough. "I see all kinds of things running down the corridor," she said, worrying that she might be fired for talking to the press. "I have to shake off roaches in order not to bring them home with me." Sanitation officials confirmed Wednesday that they have ordered the management of the Rossiya, one of the world's largest hotels, to close the entire 3,200-room complex by July 1 for a clean-up, following an infestation of cockroaches and mice. "I have a mouse living in my room. I left a piece of bread for it the other night and it was gone by morning," said Margarita Galbich, 29, a hotel guest. "But it doesn't do me any harm. I don't see why they should close the hotel." Galbich, who came to Moscow a week ago from Kishinyov, Moldova, said she had seen a few roaches in her room, too. "And they were real big ones," she added with a smile. Alevtina and Galbich's eyewitness accounts of the Rossiya's status as a roach hotel were echoed in a frank report from the city's sanitation service. "The state of the hotel complex is extremely unsatisfactory," said the report. "In the basements, walls are covered with fungus and partially destroyed, which creates conditions for the proliferation of insects and rodents ... and their constant migration to the upper floors." The deputy chief sanitation doctor, Alexander Ivanenko, said the Rossiya was infested with cockroaches and had not undergone proper repairs since it was built 18 years ago. The hotel manager was fined 1 million rubles ($507) and told to stop admitting guests starting June 18. The remaining guests will have to move out before the clean-up.None of the hotel staff interviewed Wednesday said they knew of the impending closure. But they acknowledged that sanitary problems existed. The hotel management refused to comment. Vasily Kuznetsov, the deputy manager in charge of sanitation, answered questions with a curt "No comment" in English. There was no other sign of management presence at the Rossiya Wednesday. Old ladies wearing faded blue robes vacuumed threadbare carpeting in the corridors. In some places, paint was peeling off the walls in one of Moscow's least-loved monuments. Yekaterina Nagayeva, the maitre-d' of the restaurant on the eastern side of the enormous, high-rise hotel, said her restaurant would close for just three to five days. She said the management was planning to close only parts of the hotel at a time to avoid heavy financial loss. But Dr. Ivanenko, who was aware of the management's plan, was skeptical about its efficiency. "If you close it stage by stage, the roaches will just swarm to the parts that are not being cleaned," he said. According to Ivanenko, the hotel would not be reopened until sanitation officials were satisfied. "The clean-up could last five days or they could stretch it out for a month," Ivanenko said. The Rossiya has beds for 5,377 guests. According to the hotel's reception service, about 5,000 of them were filled Wednesday. Because of its central location within sight of the Kremlin, the Rossiya has often been used to house parliamentary deputies and foreign delegations. Delegates to Communist Party and later Russian congresses also stayed there. Despite the mice and roaches, numerous visitors still find it attractive because of the cheap rates. A single room at the Rossiya costs 25,000 rubles ($12.50) a night, and a double room 45,000 rubles for Russian citizens. Tatyana Litoshko, the day manager of the Manhattan Express disco, located in the hotel, said the closure order did not affect her establishment. "Unlike the hotel management, we deal with insects and other wildlife on a regular basis," she said.