July-September 2017 #3 (19)

Moscow is not a city; it’s a separate country within Russia. A lot of foreigners already know this.

Of course, strictly speaking, it’s not a separate country at all. It’s deeply tied to the rest of Russia. Nevertheless, considering the scale of Moscow in terms of both territory and population, this sentiment has never been more accurate.

See for yourselves. The Moscow agglomeration includes more than 40 cities. Moscow’s population amounts to 20 million people, which accounts for 14 percent of Russia’s total population. It produces 26 percent of Russia’s GDP. Another feature of the Moscow agglomeration is that it’s double the size of the next largest agglomeration in Russia - St. Petersburg!

The Moscow agglomeration is also the largest agglomeration on the European continent and is in the top 20 agglomerations in the world. At the same time, Moscow can’t be compared to any other city in the world in terms of development rates.

Yes, the Russian capital was a bit late to implement radical transformations compared to other cities. Initially, there were a lot of typical mistakes that resulted in problems with transportation and discomfort. However, the situation has changed over the past five or six years. The city has started to develop rapidly and, what’s even more important, sensibly.

This incredible turnaround happened because the Moscow government applied an integrated approach to resolve the city’s problems. The idea is to resolve issues simultaneously, not one at a time: the city is building advanced transportation services, opening new metro stations, establishing more comfortable public spaces, and new construction projects are transforming gloomy industrial zones (which occupy 13 percent of Moscow’s territory) into attractive residential quarters with modern apartments, boutiques, and parks...

“There isn’t another city in the world that is currently changing for the better as quickly as Moscow,” says Jal Gehl, a famous professor of architecture and design from Denmark whose ideas have been applied all over the world, including in the Russian capital.

It’s no surprise that “renovations” is currently one of the most popular words in the city. Renovations aren’t limited to the demolition of residential buildings built during Nikita Khrushchev's time. Let’s not forget that the word “renovation” comes from the Latin renovatio, which means renewal. In Moscow, it applies to expanding the city’s transportation infrastructure, improving streets and courtyards, a grandiose transformation of the Moscow River, and cleaning up multiple historical buildings. The digital revolution, which has already taken place in Moscow, also played a role. A lot of opportunities and services Muscovites are used to, like the wide availability of free Wi-Fi, catch foreign guests by surprise.

Internet accessibility shocked Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Marcelo Crivella, who recently came to Moscow for an official visit, so much that he decided to invite our experts to Brazil to share their experience. By the way, this was Mr. Crivella’s first time in Moscow. During our conversation, he didn’t hide that he was in awe of what he saw in the Russian capital. “I learned about Moscow through movies, mostly Hollywood movies. These films portray Moscow as a grey, dangerous place. I found today’s Moscow to be colorful and welcoming. I can definitely say that my wife and I fell in love with Moscow’s beauty. We ended up on a boat tour of the Moscow River and saw a lot of beautiful buildings, churches, and parks - a lot of light and smiling people. "

Sergo Kukhianidze

Editor in Chief

sergomrk@mail.ru

CAPITAL IDEAS

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Acknowledgements to:

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Published with support from the Department for External Economic and International Relations of the Government of Moscow