Russia, Moscow Mid-winter (12.03.12)

The recent presidential election in Russia may have heated the political landscape, but with Vladimir Putin heading towards a Brezhnev length innings I wonder if winters in Moscow will remain old style … or head towards a new Arab-style spring?

British Airways are certainly feeling positive as it launches a long-haul service from London to Moscow later this month, making the flights to Russia the shortest any airline offers as a premium service will fully flat beds. Similarly the International Hotel Investment Forum is also feeling bullish as they too have just identified Russia as one of the key markets for growth in the hotel sector for 2012.

These photographs are a selection of ‘old style’ Moscow images I took during a mid-winter visit in 1985: Mikhail Gorbachev had just been voted General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Age 54 he was the youngest member of the Politburo. As he planned his new policy of perestroika, the tourism landscape was very different with secret police, money changers and official Intourist guides following one’s every move. Whilst you could visit the Bolshoi Ballet or Moscow State Circus for under £5, staying in a broken state-run hotel cost over £200 per night.

Although much has changed since, the Muscovites sense of welcome, fun and ability to party remain firmly in tact.