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Moscow To Pay a Price for Not Celebrating

Published: November 29, 2002 (Issue # 824)


MOSCOW - First there was Scrooge, the Dickens character who banned holiday celebrations at work. Now there's Mayor Yury Luzhkov, Moscow's own anti-scrooge.

The Moscow mayor's love of holidays has him insisting "forcing, actually, on pain of fine" that every single shop dress itself up for this year's winter celebrations.

Long known for his passion for decorating the city streets lavishly ahead of every holiday, Luzhkov has ordered all stores, restaurants, cafes and markets to adorn their shop windows and interiors with decorations ahead of the winter holiday season, and has even given a Dec. 1 deadline to do so.

Those who do not comply with the mayor's order will face fines of up to 200 rubles, Zhanna Artyomova, deputy head of City Hall's consumer-goods department, said Thursday. She said public institutions, like post offices and banks, have until Dec. 15 to put up decorations.

Artyomova said she sees nothing wrong in forcing companies to get into the holiday spirit.

"As of next week, our inspectors will be out checking whether people comply with the order," Artyomova said, adding that she does not expect many people to resist the idea of creating a festive atmosphere.

"People who, for example, operate a store, must understand that it is not their house but a kind of public place. After all, their mission is to please consumers and to keep them in good spirits," she said.

Forcing people to celebrate may be an unusual way to govern, but the Moscow mayor is not the first to try his hand at it. Peter the Great is known to have ordered everyone to have fun over the Christmas period. But the winner for drawing forced smiles and gritted teeth has to go the Chinese government, which encouraged Tibetans to take part in celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Communist rule under threat of pay and pension cuts. Luzhkov still has a long way to go.

Artyomova said the city will not impose strict guidelines for the decorations, only that they should be done in a certain style.

Tiny stores or kiosks will be not be obliged to spend a fortune on expensive trees and decorations. "Of course, everything will depend on their wallets and imagination," she said.

The city has at least one hard-and-fast rule, however. Every business must make sure its windows are illuminated from 4.30 p.m. until 1 a.m. "Those who fail to switch the lights on will be considered violators and subject to fines," Artyomova said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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