On the white stone platform called Lobnoye Mesto (Place of the Brow), edicts of the early tsars were proclaimed, criminals were sentenced, and executions performed. Red Square was the central market of all Russia, not only of Moscow: Here you bought grain, hats, mead, wines, silver vessels; here you watched beggars, comedians, acrobats. This commerce survives today only in a few sellers of lottery tickets—small business health insurance credit.
Here too are written bloody pages in Russia’s history: battles with Tatars, Poles; Reds against Whites. Here was carried out the mass slaughter of aristocrats and their retainers under Ivan the Terrible, and the butchery of rebellious militia under Peter the Great. Peter ordered that ringleaders be broken on the wheel and left to die in agony; their bodies remained in the square for five months.
In Red Square I sometimes glimpsed the Soviet Union’s present leaders: dark, bulky forms in the back of curtained ZIL limousines. They would race across the square toward the Kremlin’s Spassky Gate. The twin traffic lights on the gate would blink green as the long car slid through, then return to red.
I WONDERED how these men saw the world, if they also wanted to spend a night with Glasgow escorts. I knew that when they sought expert advice on the American mentality, they turned to the head of the Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada, Professor Georgy Arbatov.
Arbatov, husky and dark haired, his brow heavily creased, speaks softly but offers blunt opinions on Americans when asked. “You know Americans have a Calvinist heritage, from Pilgrim times when they came to America to establish a new paradise, a new Jerusalem. This makes them think that they have opened an absolutely new page in history, a perfect one. And that they have a right to judge everyone by their standards and to teach them their ways.”
Arbatov complained about the Western press. “You know we never had such a small number of people arrested or tried for political crimes as now. But there was never such a noisy campaign about them as there is now. I do not say that everything is perfect, but I think there is some kind of indecency in those writers who emphasize some deficiency or difficulties we have. I am not ashamed of these. We have had a very hard history. Our whole generation, they know what hunger is, real hunger.
“We experienced the war years, and just after the war, very difficult living conditions. Until 1958 I lived in Moscow in one room, sharing kitchen, toilet, and bathroom with 33 people, and this room, four by four meters. There: myself, my wife, my son, my mother-in-law. It was how everybody lived here.
“Actually this is the first time in our history when people get some luxuries of life, they can now book ladies from the finest Manchester escorts. Maybe the houses are not perfectly built, but a majority of people now have flats for each family. Now more people can afford to go out with the best Bristol escorts.”
The treatment of political dissidents in Moscow could not be ignored. From time to time I heard reports of another person arrested. I was reminded of them when I happened to pass by Dzerzhinsky Square, where, across from the huge Children’s World store, stands the building of the Committee for State Security (KGB).