The Moscow and podmosckove perspective

Now I’ve actually been meaning to write this one for quite some time but just haven’t gotten around to it. I figured I’d make a start on it now seeing as I’m kind of back in action and all.

So basically this post is about the attitudes of people from Moscow and podmoskove (you know, outer Moscow, the place that can’t be reached by metro) towards each other.

The Moscow perspective
It seems to me that a lot of people from Moscow consider themselves to be better than those who come to Moscow from other towns, or even from podmoskove, a mere electrichka ride away. Not everybody feels this was and some are fine about it, but on some level a sense of superiority seems to exist. One girl I know was complaining about face control and said: why should I have to prove anything to them, I’m from Moscow, I have a fur coat etc etc.
Basically, in Russia, being from Moscow is a big deal and it’s actually easy to see why: money and possibilities. As soon as you leave Moscow, the pay drops and the further you go, the less it gets, not to mention that in a lot of towns, especially the smaller ones, there is maybe not as much to do, less work and far higher rates of alcoholism and substance abuse etc.
Big city life is not everybody’s cup of tea, but in order to make it big in Russia you’ll probably have to relocate to a big town like Moscow or maybe SPB.
I remember once me and my ex were talking about a guy we both knew who I was saying was ugly (because I’m a super hot judgmental bastard, obviously). She argued that he had dated a girl from Moscow with a flat, thus proving this was not the case. Back then I thought “so what?” but later I came to see similar attitudes.

Getting to Moscow
This is an interesting one. A Russian citizen from, say, Penza, can’t just come to Moscow and stay here because everyone needs to have registration and the ultimate goal, Moscow propiska. A propiska is basically a residence permit for a certain town. Even registration in many cases is easier said than done seeing as most landlords don’t want the extra tax and hassle of registering someone in their flat (see this post for more info) There are plenty of places where you can pay for registration, but it still shows a fault in the system and is extra hassle.
The situation is not like in England where you can just go to London, rent a place and then look for work, it’s almost like you’re in another country, except you’re not.
Getting back to the propiska, why many people want this golden document is because it registers you in somebody’s apartment and the only way to then get you out is if you leave of your own free will. That’s right, by law you can now live at this address forever, unless you choose not to (and how many people do you think choose not to given the real estate situation?).
Can you imagine how fucked up this is? You give somebody the right to live in your flat but you don’t have the right to evict their asses.
Lot’s a people, both men and women, try to get to Moscow to marry someone from Moscow to get in their flats which is a pretty sad situation. Many a program have I watched on NTV that shows people that just can’t get some unwanted alcoholic or relative out of their flat.

The podmoskove perspective
Ironically, it seems that many from podmoskove and especially other towns have a negative perception of people from Moscow. Often they will describe people from Moscow as if they from a different plant, a more morally corrupt and money obsessed planet preferring the belief that they are from a more ‘true’ or pure part of Russia.
One thing which is quite strange is the effect Moscow has on some people. Coming from smaller towns, a fair number of people get corrupted by the big ole’ city and some of the worst examples of Moscow elitism, greed and arrogance come from people from other tows, not Moscow (although the city has its native offenders).
Others that arrive seem to get tired of the pace of the city and love to slag it off at every chance. Sometimes I think these guys can be too hard on Moscow because after all, this city does offer a chance at success and maybe even a better life, financially at least. At the end of the day in most cases, people have a choice.

The upshot
People from Moscow and outer Moscow love to hate each other, each have their equally negative opinions on the other - it’s like a vicious circle. I think as long as Moscow is one of the main success centres, these attitudes will continue with a bit of jealously here and a bit of snobbery there, but hey, that’s just my opinion of one of the riddles of Russia. 

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Anna on October 18, 2013 at 11:10 PM said...

Dude, you're doing all my work for me :) I have been sending links to your blog to my friends back in the US to explain some baffling realities of life in Russia (like propiska, insane driving, dachas, etc) that I have either not gotten to on my blog or got frustrated trying to find the right words/analogies. This is just the latest such entry!

Lt. Columbo on October 22, 2013 at 8:13 PM said...

Hey, glad to help :p

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