I went to Sankt Peterburg almost 20 times before Russia invaded Ukraine, and many spots there became familiar to me.
If any of you guys know 'Piter', then you can probably visualize Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa (Small Garden Street). It is a one-block pedestrian-only street branching to the left from Nevsky (as you come from the Winter Palace) just past the big Gostiny Dvor shopping center. It has a fountain in which the water levitates a massive stone sphere, allowing it to be easily spun by hand.
I just found a real-estate news item, reporting that Malaya Sadovaya (among the highest-rent spots in St. Peterburg) is rapidly going vacant, even though rents dropped by 15 to 30% in response to the new crisis. One of the most recognizable lost shops, right on the corner, was a shop selling items for fans of Peterburg's beloved football club (FC Zenit).
The story finished by comparing to Moscow, where shops have been exiting for six months now. In the mail retail areas (including Tverskaya street, the famous broad street leading directly into Revolution Square at the northwest end of Red Square), the vacancy increased from 4% to 9% during 2014. In second-tier shopping areas of Moscow, vacancies are about 20%.
The Kremlin's "counter-sanctions," which limited the variety of food in groceries, is given as one contributor to the closing of shops.
Seventy years ago they crushed Nazi Germany together but raging tensions over Ukraine mean Russia's former World War II allies in the West will snub the Kremlin's showcase victory anniversary celebrations.
As top Western leaders give President Vladimir Putin's Red Square parade on May 9 the cold shoulder, the guest list of those likely to be coming -- including China's president and North Korea's reclusive leader -- shows how Moscow's international standing has shifted.
The leaders of Britain and France will not attend the events marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany, and few expect US President Barack Obama to attend the May 9 celebrations either.
The Russian trolls are out on main stream news. They are all over the fact that the rouble made some gains of late. Whatever gains there were, are either temporary or made up. Oil is still less than half of what Russia budgeted. Sanctions are still in place.
yesterday oil touched a point even lower than in 2009. "investment banks" will be loathe to let it go below $38 which a psychological
barrier and at one they will lose out on their huge profits (bets) if it drops below that. many of these "economists" were betting on $70 oil by September.
the Ruble has dropped back to 69.1 as of an hour ago but hopefully the low oil will begin to take its toll on Russia. Putin is somewhat prepared for unrest
due to the economy and the fact that he and his inner circle have stolen about 200 billion of Russian wealth.