According to the locals it's a warm day today. It's minus 7. I'm in Moscow in mid-December. The snow is floating by horizontally. And I'm sitting here bewildered by how wrong I can be.
I grew up in Western Europe at the time of Khrushchev's and Brezhnev's Soviet Union, The Cuban missile crisis, the Cold War. I was fed visions of a bleak and unforgiving society, faceless grey concrete monoliths and the Chernobyl disaster. Even after the fall of the USSR there were stories of the growth of mafia control on the streets of the major cities and more recently Putin's heavy-handed autocracy. It was not a place I had much of a desire to visit. My mind's eye said bleak and grey and a people who were cold and uncommunicative.
So when I was invited to speak at a conference in Moscow this week I wasn't exactly jumping for joy at the prospect of a winter trip to the Russian Federation.
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