Blog: Simon WarburtonGoing underground

Simon Warburton | 19 June 2015

Not your average Metro - Moscow

Not your average Metro - Moscow's Komsomolskaya station

It became clear to me just why the Russians were so twitchy about letting any old foreigner in to Nizhny Novgorod until around 1992, after talking to GAZ CEO, Vadim Sorokin from his eyrie on the 14th floor of the automaker's HQ in the same city this week.

Nizhny was one of Russia's famous 'closed cities' where non-Russians were given a firm "niet" if they wanted to enter and Sorokin reeled off a list of sensitive industries that made it clear why Moscow wanted the shutters pulled down.

Quite apart from the automaker, there was also a MiG fighter aircraft station, nuclear research facility, space control centre and a submarine factory all near the town, a shopping list to make any spook salivate with envy. It appears the submarines were constructed, then floated up the Volga on huge pontoons.

Just an observation, but coming from Moscow this week and now in St Petersburg where I am here for the International Economic Forum, it's remarkable how few Russian cars there are, a fact AvtoVAZ CEO, Bo Andersson agreed with when I interviewed him yesterday, giving his new Vesta and XRay products a real opportunity. 

I've had a few firsts this week - travelling on a Russian train from Moscow to Nizhny - the service comes replete with police on board - and tramping through a Russian forest.

But the one which struck me the most was on the Moscow Metro. I had just got off the train when in the distance I saw a lady carrying something white, which I assumed to be a small dog.

As I got closer however, I suddenly realised the 'small dog' was in fact, a ferret and as I became aware of what it was, it glared at me with its red eyes and I jumped out of my skin much to the woman's amusement.

Ferrets on the Metro? Russia never ceases to surprise.

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