No more strangers on Patriarch's Ponds?

July 28, 2016

The visitors to this site know the Patriarch's Ponds in Moscow as the place where the story of The Master and Margarita begins and where Woland introduces himself to Mikhail Berlioz and Ivan Bezdomny. For fans of the work of Bulgakov, it is one of the places where you should have been on a visit to Moscow. Some residents of the neighborhood, however, are not so keen on «foreigners» and are even dreaming of closing the area with barriers.

Today, quite some very well-off citizens - businessmen, bankers, architects, expats - are living near the ponds, and some of them are not pleased with the night life in Malaya Bronnaya, one of the four streets bordering the Patriarch's Ponds - perhaps you remember that Berlioz feared to get a brick on his head there. Anyway, the restaurants and cafes in Malaya Bronnaya would attract too many «low level» people, so the peace of the neighbours got disturbed. Daria Lisichenko, owner of the upscale trendy natural food store Город-Сад [Gorod-Sad] or City Garden in the Bolshoi Patriarshy pereulok on the ponds, called them «locusts from Biryulyovo». Biryulyovo is a low reputation district in the south of Moscow. Lisichenko's description is somewhat reminiscent of the term «vermin», which was often used by the Soviet regime to describe opponents.

The malcontents booked one victory already. Through the efforts of, among others, local resident Aleksandr Gafin, businessman and former vice-president of Alfa Bank, the Moscow city government decided that, starting this month, all restaurants and cafes in the Patriarch area should close at 23:00.

On July 27, 2016, Афиша Daily [Afisha Daily] or Daily Poster, a popular lifestyle website with more than 4.5 million readers, organized a debate with some local residents which was moderated by Anna Mongait, a journalist with the independent TV station Дождь [Dozhd ] or Rain. It showed that the area is not so united.

According to local resident Yevgeny Ass, architect and rector of the Московская Архитектурная школа [Moskovskaya Architekturnaya Shkola] or the Moscow Architecture School, the defensive reflexes of his neighbours go a bit too far. «I'm one of the oldest residents here,» he said. «I live in the house that my father built. The Patriarch's area where I grew up was a community of poor people. That changed when the communists built two houses for senior party members here. Now they are among the most expensive houses in the city. But the finance people should understand how a city lives. A city does not belong to individual residents, it is an entire urban community. Some want to close the Patriarch's Ponds, but people will keep coming. And that’s fine with me.»

Also Elena Kotova, a writer and architect who used to work for the VTB Bank, is more balanced in her point of view. «I also want to be able to sleep at 23:00,» she said, «but we have chosen to come and live in an area that can be compared to the Kreuzberg in Berlin, or Soho in London. Therefore, we should not be hypocritical. Moscow is for all Muscovites, and we have to get along with all of them.»

Meanwhile, the debate continues on the social media. We will keep you informed.

Lisichenko and Gafin
Yevgeny Ass
Elena Kotova
Lisichenko and Gafin
Yevgeny Ass
Elena Kotova



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