* Consider the symbolism of the “ancient” capital as the “heart” of Russia. This city has traditionally been the seat of the Russian church, even when the capital moved to St. Petersburg.
* How might you describe the significance of the Kremlin as a symbol of political power during the Soviet Period and the Cold War?
* The reconstruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was a major and top priority project of the Mayor of Moscow. What is the significance of this building and its reconstruction?
* Knowing what you do, now, about the symbolism of Moscow as one of two historical urban centers of Russia, do you feel that this city with its Oriental, Asiatic and Eastern orientation is a good symbol for Russia today?
* The capital of a country represents the nation’s cultural values in concentrated form. Think of London as a symbol of English culture, Paris — of French culture, Rome — of Italian, Madrid — of Spanish. Is Washington, DC, a good, effective symbol of US culture? Is Moscow a good symbol of Russian culture?
Reflections on St. Petersburg
* Major revolutions in Russian culture have been accomplished by the transfer of capitals: Peter the Great created St. Petersburg and moved the capital there from Moscow in his effort to accomplish Westernizing reforms; the fledgling Soviet State moved the capital from St. Petersburg to Moscow in an effort to distance itself from the habits and sources of power of the monarchy and bureaucracy. However, in the revolution that Russia has just experienced (beginning in 1991) after the fall of the Soviet Union, there has been no transfer of the capital. Has this made the revolution more difficult, or less “revolutionary”?
* Would the introduction of Western-style capitalism and democracy have been more effective if the capital of Russia had been moved to St. Petersburg in 1991?
* Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) as an urban setting and site of beautiful architectural structures and ensembles was largely ignored during the Soviet period, and the city still suffers from neglect. Moscow has been, and continues to be much richer, there is more money for urban needs. Is this discrimination based only on the fact that Moscow is now the capital? Or is there perhaps a cultural and/or spiritual reason for the denigration of Leningrad/St. Petersburg?