Moscow

ABOUT THE CITY

Moscow is the capital and the largest city of the Russian Federation. It is also the largest city in Europe, with the Moscow metropolitan area ranking among the largest urban areas in the world. Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural, religious, financial, educational, and transportation center of Russia and the world.

It is home to many scientific and educational institutions, as well as numerous sport facilities. It possesses a complex transport system, including 3 international airports, 9 railroad terminals, and one of the world’s busiest metro systems which is famous for its architecture and artwork.

You will find the gregarious geniality of its people as you find your way around.  And indeed, the most striking aspect of the city today is not Moscow’s much-publicized embrace of Western culture but its self-assured revival of its own traditions. Ancient cathedrals are being restored and opened for religious services, innovative theaters are reclaiming leadership in the arts, and traditional markets are coming back to life.

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    Overview

    Moscow is the capital and largest city of Russia, with its metropolitan area ranking among the largest urban areas in the world.  Moscow is the largest city in Europe. Historically, it was the capital of the former Soviet Union and the Grand Duchy of Moscow, the pre-Imperial Russian state. It is the site of the Kremlin, which now serves as the ceremonial residence of the President of Russia. Moscow is rated as a beta world city for its global influences in media, politics, education, entertainment and fashion. It also remains a major economic centre and is home to a large number of billionaires; in 2007 Moscow was named the world’s most expensive city for the second year in a row.

    It is a city in which one comes face to face with all that is finest and all that is most frustrating in Russia. The gregarious geniality of its people is as evident as the extreme tensions of a city coming to terms with the confusions of rapid social change. More than anywhere else in the country, it is in Moscow where the Soviet past collides with the capitalist future. Lenin’s Mausoleum remains intact, but today it faces the newly chic GUM (pronounced goom), which is becoming ever more akin to Macy’s or Harrod’s.

    Yet, as the new Moscow emerges, it is becoming increasingly clear that any move into the future will be marked by a strong appreciation of the city’s rich and varied heritage–a heritage that vastly predates the era of Soviet rule. Indeed, the most striking aspect of the city today is not Moscow’s much-publicized embrace of Western culture but its self-assured revival of its own traditions. Ancient cathedrals are being restored and opened for religious services, innovative theaters are reclaiming leadership in the arts, and traditional markets are coming back to life. Moscow is once more assuming its position as the capital and mother city of the ancient state of Russia.

    Media

    Russia has close to ninety officially registered television companies, 25,000 newspapers, over 1,500 radio programs and 400 news agencies—over half of them independent, the rest entitled to full or partial government financing.

    Economy

    Russia ended the year 2007 with its ninth straight year of growth, averaging 7% annually since the financial crisis of 1998. Although high oil prices and a relatively cheap ruble initially drove this growth, since 2003 consumer demand and, more recently, investment have played a significant role. Over the last five years, fixed capital investments have averaged real gains greater than 10% per year and personal incomes have achieved real gains more than 12% per year. During this time, poverty has declined steadily and the middle class has continued to expand. Russia has also improved its international financial position since the 1998 financial crisis. The federal budget has run surpluses since 2001 and ended 2006 with a surplus of 9% of GDP. Over the past several years, Russia has used its stabilization fund based on oil taxes to prepay all Soviet-era sovereign debt to Paris Club creditors and the IMF. Foreign debt has decreased to 39% of GDP, mainly due to decreasing state debt, although commercial debt to foreigners has risen strongly. Oil export earnings have allowed Russia to increase its foreign reserves from $12 billion in 1999 to some $315 billion at yearend 2006, the third largest reserves in the world. During Putin’s first administration, a number of important reforms were implemented in the areas of tax, banking, labor, and land codes. These achievements have raised business and investor confidence in Russia’s economic prospects, with foreign direct investment rising from $14.6 billion in 2005 to an estimated $30 billion in 2006. In 2006, Russia’s GDP grew 6.6%, while inflation was below 10% for the first time in the past 10 years. Growth was driven by non-tradable services and goods for the domestic market, as opposed to oil or mineral extraction and exports.

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    Moscow Fast Facts

    Population –  10,462,424

    Area – 417.4 sq mi

    Official Website – www.mos.ru

    Calling code –  77

    Time Zone – GMT+3 hrs, at 1 pm in NYC, it is 9 pm in Moscow

    About Russia

    Fast Facts

    Population – 141,377,752 (July 2007 est.)

    Capital – Moscow

    Government type –  Federation

    Unemployment rate – 6.6% plus considerable underemployment (2006 est.)

    Internet country code:   .ru  (.su reserved)

    Currency (code) –  Ruble (RUB)

    Official language(s) – Russian

    Religion – Russian Orthodox 15-20%, Muslim 10-15%, other Christian 2% (2006 est.)

    note: estimates are of practicing worshipers; Russia has large populations of non-practicing believers and non-believers, a legacy of over seven decades of Soviet rule

    Largest Cities –  Moscow, Saint Petersburg

    Calling code –  7

    Area

    total: 17,075,200 sq km

    land: 16,995,800 sq km

    water: 79,400 sq km

    Elevation

    lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m

    highest point: Gora El’brus 5,633 m

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    Driving In Moscow

    Moscow’s road system is centered roughly around the heart of the city, the Moscow Kremlin. From there, the roads in general radiate out to intersect with a sequence of circular roads or “rings” focused at the Kremlin.

    A foreigner may also bring one car, duty-free, for the period of their stay. The car cannot be sold or transferred to any other person.

    Public Transportation

    Moscow Metro

    http://engl.mosmetro.ru/

    Moscow’s most popular form of public transportation is its world-famous Metro. For foreign urbanites accustomed to the subway systems of their homelands, riding the Moscow Metro and visiting its opulent stations is an attraction in itself.

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    Air Travel

    There are five primary commercial airports serving Moscow: Sheremetyevo International Airport, Domodedovo International Airport, Bykovo Airport, Ostafievo International Airport and Vnukovo International Airport. Sheremetyevo International Airport is the most common entry point for foreign passengers, handling sixty percent of all international flights.

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    Moscow Sights

    Red Square and the Kremlin

    +7 95 202 37 76

    www.kreml.ru

    The Kremlin is a powerful mix of church and state, of European and Russian styling, and of historic and modern Russia. The Red square is an impressive, and famous, city square separating the Kremlin from the city’s merchant center. Entering from the north end past the State Historical Museum you will see the instantly recognizable multi-colored onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral (Sobor Vasiliia Blazhennogo) looming on the far side of the square. To the left of the square is the vast edifice that is GUM department store and down the right are the towering walls of the Kremlin. Beneath sits Lenin’s Mausoleum, a step-pyramid structure housing the embalmed remains of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

    St. Basil’s Cathedral

    4 Krasnaya Ploshchad

    Moscow 103012 Russia

    +7 95 298 5880

    Possibly the most widely-recognized of Russia’s architectural monuments, St. Basil’s looms at the southern end of Red Square in all its multi-colored, multi-coned glory. The cathedral’s real name is the Cathedral of the Intercession. It was built between 1555 and 1561 to commemorate the victory of Ivan the Terrible over the Tatars in Kazan.

    Monument to Peter the Great

    Krmyskii bridge North

    Moscow 109072

    The idea for this monument was conceived by Mayor Luzhkov and created with the help of city-sponsored artist Tsereteli. The monument has courted extensive controversy. For a start, Peter the Great’s enthusiasm for his northern capital St. Petersburg was motivated at least in part by his hatred for Moscow. Putting aside historical politics though, others complain that the monument is just plain ugly.

    Gorky Park

    Krymskii Val, 9

    Moscow 117049

    The park became known to the Western public thanks to a blockbuster movie based on Martin Cruz Smith’s best-selling book, ‘Gorky Park,’ and the Scorpions’ famous song. Laid down in 1928, the original ornamental gardens are now accompanied by an entertainment zone, hosting everything from science lectures to rock concerts in its auditorium.

    Museums

    Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

    Prospekt Mira, 111

    Moscow 101300

    +7 95 283 7914

    This museum is located under a stunning 100-meter high titanium monument, built in 1964 and dedicated to the first artificial satellite launched from Earth. Six main displays illustrate the major events in Russian astronautic history. You can see the first satellites, a vehicle for research on the surface of the moon, landing apparatus, space suits, and even food for the astronauts.

    Tretiakov Gallery

    Lavrushinskii pereulok, 10

    Moscow 109017

    +7 95 951 1362

    www.tretyakov.ru

    Pavel Tretiakov, who collected the best work of contemporary painters in Moscow and St. Petersburg, founded this gallery in 1856.

    Education

    Anglo-American School of Moscow

    US Embassy, Box M, 00140 Helsinki, Finland

    7 095 913 9676

    e-mail : aasoffice@glasnet.ru

    British International School

    BR1 177, BO Bow 289, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8WJ, UK

    7 095 425 5100

    e-mail : bisprincipal@glasnet.ru

    Moscow International School

    111123 3rd Vladimirskaya str. House 5, Moscow

    7 095 304 3794 fax 7 095 304 3639

    e-mail : sc1509@grsc1509.msk.su

    (US$ 5 200 – 7 000 per annum)

    Anglo-American School of St Petersburg

    AAS-US Consulat, St Petersburg, PSC 78, APO-AE 09723

    7 812 325 6247

    e-mail : aassp@glas.apc.org

    Currency & Banking

    All payments in Russia are made in rubbles. However, in many shop prices are often indicated in German marks are U.S. dollars. The rate of the rubble changes all the time (decreases, mainly), which is why standard units are used.

    Exchange rate rubbles per US dollar:

    33.5299 (2008)

    29.3684 (2007)

    You can exchange your money for rubbles at commercial banks, exchange offices, and hotels. Look for a board with the sign (tk Cyrillic). It the currency exchange office is a small one, it will only accept dollars or marks. You can also reconvert rubbles at the offices.

    Most hotels, shops, and restaurants, especially those near the city center, accept all major credit cards. Sometimes you may be asked to show your passport or identifying documents.

    Dining

    Russian cuisine derives its rich and varied character from the vast and multicultural expanse of Russia. Its foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, poultry, game, mushrooms, berries, and honey. Crops of rye, wheat, barley, and millet provided the ingredients for a plethora of breads, pancakes, cereals, kvass, beer, and vodka. Flavorful soups and stews centered on seasonal or storable produce, fish, and meats.

    Original and varied, Russian cuisine is famous for exotic soups, cabbage schi and solyanka, which is made of assorted meats. Russians are great lovers of pelmeni, small Siberian meat pies boiled in broth. “No dinner without bread,” goes the Russian saying. Wheat loaves have dozens of varieties. As to rye bread, Russians eat more of it than any nation in the world–a peculiarity of the Russian diet.  As the Russian custom has it, a festive table isn’t worth this name without a bottle of vodka. Russians are traditionally hearty drinkers: as good whiskey shall come from Scotland, and port from Portugal, so Russian wheat vodka is the worlds best.

    Electricity

    The nominal voltage in Russia is 220 Volts with the mains frequency of 50 Hz. The plug type: two round pins (similar to the ones in Europe, but a little thinner). Make sure to bring an adaptor if your appliances are different. There are plenty of places where such adaptors are absolutely not available.

    Business Hours

    Government offices and other service offices open Monday trough Friday from 9 am to 6 pm.

    Shopping hours are 9 am to 9-10 pm Monday to Saturday. Department stores and supermarkets are open throughout lunchtime. Stores which are open 24 hours a day are becoming more common.

    Embassy & Visa

    The Embassy of the Russian Federation

    2650 Wisconsin Avenue

    Washington, D.C. 20007

    (202) 298-5700

    The Consular Division of the Russian Federation in Washington, D.C.

    2641 Tunlaw Road, N.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20007

    (202) 939-8907

    www.russianembassy.org

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    Etiguette

    Businessmen in Russia usually wear suits that are dark and well tailored along with good dress shoes. A businessman’s wardrobe demonstrates the individual’s image as a professional. Men often do not take off their jackets in negotiations.

    Women dress rather conservatively, avoiding overly flashy or gaudy outfits. Women should always cover their heads when entering into any Russian Orthodox Churches.  Skirts should be worn rather than pants.

    As a foreigner, you are expected to be on time to all business appointments. However, your Russian counterpart may be late, as this may be a test of your patience.

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    Postal Service

    The postal service in Russia is quite inexpensive and reasonably reliable. You can always rely on the government registered mail service, which is slightly more expensive. It normally takes 3 or 4 working days for mail to be delivered at distances less than 500 kilometers and up to 2 weeks if the letter travels all the way across Russia, say, from one remote and isolated place near Murmansk to another next to Magadan.  A letter sent by Air Mail from the USA would reach Moscow within 4 or 7 days. The express mail delivery services (FedEx, EMS, DHL and all their relatives) are widely available in Russia, but are significantly more expensive and, unfortunately, are not always that much faster or reliable.

    Telephone & Time Zone

    011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of U.S.A., when placing the call in the US.

    7 is the international code used to dial to Russia.

    495 is the local area or city code used to dial to Moscow.

    810 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of Russia.

    1 is the international code used to dial to U.S.A.

    Time Zone

    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Moscow and New York City at 12:00 UTC when daylight saving time is not in effect:

    Moscow Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC + 3:00 hours = 9:00 pm

    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 5:00 hours = 1:00 pm

    Taxes

    If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien living or traveling outside the United States, you generally are required to file income tax returns, estate tax returns, and gift tax returns and pay estimated tax in the same way as those residing in the United States. Your income, filing status, and age generally determine whether you must file a return. Generally, you must file a return if your gross income from worldwide sources is at least the amount shown for your filing status in the Filing Requirements table in Chapter 1 of Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad (available at www.irs.gov). The IRS web site has a wealth of information available for the overseas taxpayer. Follow the ‘Individuals’ and ‘International Taxpayers’ links, or search for IRS Publication 54.

    U.S. Tax Information

    Internal Revenue Service

    P.O. Box 920

    Bensalem, PA 19020

    (215) 516-2000 (not toll-free)

    Phone service available from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm (EST) M-F