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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mayor Luzhkov Plans to Paint the Town Bright

The best known administrative and residential urban buildings will be presented in a new light to inhabitants and guests of the capital. The Moscow city government has recently launched an all-city program called "Bright Facade" and "Historical Color."

The very idea of "Bright Facade" came about, as is often the case, on the initiative of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov. On one of his travels around the city, the mayor said he thought that the it looked too gray and gloomy. After this, the city's architects were charged with "cheering up" the urban landscape.

Without a doubt, the most dismal buildings of the capital belong to the Stalinist epoch. The lion's share of the Bright Facade program will be devoted to the famous House on the Embankment. Its dark gray color will be painted over in bright tones. (It has not yet been decided which ones.) According to architects, the color spectrum should be in harmony with the Christ the Savior Church, which is situated opposite it, on the other side of the Moskva River. One billion rubles will be spent on brightening the house on 2 Ulitsa Serafimovich.

The Bright Facade program envisages repainting five buildings on Kutuzovsky Prospekt, three on Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Ulitsa and the Central Telegraph on Tverskaya Ulitsa.

The idea of "Historical Colors" includes returning to the original color schemes of the capital's most famous buildings. There are plans to completely repaint the buildings on the square of Belorussky Station. The post office on Chisty Prudye Bulvar, the Yeliseyevsky Gastronom and the Mayakovsky Theater will all be restored to their historical colors. Scientific research on the earlier colors of these buildings will be conducted before the work is carried out.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, Dec. 6.

Fare Beaters

At the Prospekt Mira metro station, I noticed something unusual about the turnstile. There were two slots on the panels -- one for magnetic cards, the other for microprocessing ones. Dmitry Gayev, head of the Moscow Metropolitan Authority, told me they were experimental turnstiles which are now being used by metro workers.

The cards are expected to appear next spring alongside tokens and magnetic cards. The keys will first be distributed to "privileged persons," those who ride at a reduced fare. Within about three years, there are plans to fully go over to a card system. The microprocessing cards will give the metro workers the opportunity to keep track of passenger flows, make it easier to catch fare beaters and follow the trips of citizens who belong to the privileged category.

Gayev likes the London system of metro payment, the so-called zonal system. Such a system could come to Moscow within three years.

The metro management figures that the computer chip cards will allow for a higher collection of fares. It appears that only 43 percent of metro riders pay for their trips. Between 10 and 15 percent of passengers enter the metro using false documents. Introducing a more progressive system of payment, as the experience of Bucharest has proven, can raise revenues by 18 to 20 percent.

Commersant Daily, Dec. 6.

Mafia Geography

The main capital of the country is divided not only into spheres of influence but zones of rest and entertainment among the city's thieves.

The guests of the city barely leave airport customs and passport control before they find themselves in another zone, which is far better controlled and protected. One out of every thousand rubles that is paid for lottery tickets at the kiosks of Sheremetyevo 2 airport ends up in the coffers of the not very law-abiding inhabitants of Solntsevo and Dolgoprudny.

Don't be too offended at the Moscow taxis around train stations, who ask exorbitant sums and in hard currency. They are working not only for themselves but for the "Azerbaijanis" around the Kursk and Paveletsky stations and for the "Dagestanis" around the Belorussky Station.

In most of the capital's hotels you will be greeted by someone with a Caucasus accent. Take your pick. "Dagestanis" are residents in the Molodyozhnaya, Severnaya and Sport hotels. The Chechen community occupies the Rossia, Golden Ring, Ostankino and Altai. And we should not forget the Radisson Slavjanskaya which some evil tongues refer to as the Radisson Chechenskaya.

Obshchaya Gazeta, Dec. 5-10.