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Are We Still in the Dark Ages and Why?

Ten years ago this month, I came to Moscow to join my husband.

Down the path of all good expatriates I go, My how the place has changed.

There was not a word of English anywhere, the streets were drab and grey. All the shop fronts had tumbling folds of dirty grey net curtains. Mind you this could also be said of office blocks, there was actually no distinguishing factors between the two.

Then it was the time to celebrate the big birthday of the city, the year escapes me for now.

Buildings were being painted, pinks, yellows blues, and greens mostly pastel shades. We could now distinguish the beauty in the architecture of the buildings as the details were highlighted in contrasting whites. Stunning. We started getting flower beds and the park gardens were transformed into places people actually wanted to stroll around or gather and socialize in during the warmer months. All the big names came into town, shop fronts cleaned up and opened up, and we could now pass off as being a magnificent city anywhere in Europe.

Still everything is being improved, a long list of new buildings and improvements are being made today.

So now we have the beauty and still to some degree the safety that a lot of major cities in the world lack.


Why have attitudes not changed and especially regarding people in authority?

Which leads me to a dark age issue.

Very recently and by no means the only case, a good friend was put into a taxi to go home and in some part of the journey, the police came into the picture, the taxi driver disappeared and my friend ended up in some de-tox clinic in the centre of Moscow. I understand fully that a person on their own who is drunk is a vulnerable target, but why from the city police force? Even the clinics are mostly unaware of where these victims, or maybe we should say patients, come from. This seems to be an opportunity for the police to extract money or any other valuables from their victim? Why, on all accounts, are charges not being made? Someone should be accountable for this. Everyone is aware that this is the best place in the world for the story to be altered and/or denied.

Is there anyone out there who can make a difference?

Can we make this a concern for the public and have the situation improved, I guess obliterating it will never happen?

Why would a government NOT want to improve their services to the public?

If a city can change so much let people now smell flowers and appreciate their value, surely they, together with their city, can move into a new age.

Something to think about.

Bridget Woodhouse

I welcome any contacts, leads and personal accounts such as this that can be used to substantiate a good feature article on this subject later in the year.


I love Passport Magazine.

But the recent Hong Kong travelogue was too offtopic for Passport, I felt. Too far, too foreign. The North Korea feature is more apt because it alludes to Russia's still-recent ethos. And about Georgia, right on!

On topic: in the Dec. 2005 issue editorial, you stated, "I have been struggling to acquire all the many pieces of paper necessary for application for a residence permit." AHA!

That's what I will be needing either this sojourn in Moscow, or the next. (I've alreary married a Russian woman.) I have chased all over the city this winter for a Pravo Na Zhitelstvo certificate, as advised by my wife, only to find there is no such thing.

So, how about that residence permit? What is it? How does one obtain it? What was your experience?

Brad Young

Dear Brad,
Pravo Na Zhitelstvo, which would translate as a residency permit exists and several foreigners have them! I myself did manage to gather all the pieces of paper necessary to apply in December 2005. The application experience was quite difficult, not because Russian officials want to make the process difficult, but because there are so few westerners applying for this; we are unaware of the right procedures. As a result, this procedure took me about 3 months. I have enough experience to pass on to fill at least 4 pages of this magazine, and intend to do so when and if I finally get my permit. For starters though; if you own a flat go to your local Passportny Stol they will explain the procedure to you. If you rent, go to OVIR. If you dont have a lot of time and a few thousand dollars, use a legal firm. Above all, try and estabish clearly whether you need a residency permit at all.


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