In legislation somewhat reminiscent of Mike Bloomberg's restaurant smoking ban, Vladimir Putin is shutting down all casinos in Russia, effective tonight. (They have the option to move to the remote areas of Siberia.) This will be a big change for Moscow, especially on the Novy Arbat, the city's central artery and casino strip. It's cheap, glitzy, shiny, and tawdry, just like the Vegas street that is its model. The whole avenue is rightly an eyesore, a Soviet-era gash cut through the historic heart of the city, lined with undistinguished towers. Even Robert Moses would be appalled. It's worth noting that Putin drives through it regularly (and at immense speed) on his way to and from the Kremlin, so maybe it's not such a surprise that he'd like to see it cleaned up.
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