Supermarkets in Russia have come a long way since the days of long lines and empty shelves so common during the Soviet period.
These days, the third largest supermarket chain almost has a southern feel, at least in the name, “Dixie” (Дикси). Admittedly, the similarities with the American south ends there.
Specializing in food and home products, Dixie is based in Moscow as part of the Mercury Group and is traded on the Russian stock exchange (MCX) under the symbol DIXY.
The company operates approximately three supermarket chains in 756 Russian communities, with the Dixie brand being the largest with over 2500 stores. Dixie also operates the upscale supermarket chain “Viktoriya” (Виктория) with 63 stores mainly in Moscow, Kaliningrad, and Saint Petersburg, and the “Megamart” group. The Megamart chain consists of 36 stores, including 24 Megamart compact hypermarkets and 12 Minimart economy supermarkets.
Founded in 1992 in Saint Petersburg, the second city for expansion was Moscow as the chain began to grow in key Russian cities. Now headquartered in Moscow, Dixie operates 8 distributions centers with their own transport fleet.
As of December 2015, Dixie’s growth has been the envy of the Russian food world as a new store is opened almost every day under one of the three brand names.
During rush hours, Moscow’s Taganskaya Square is one of the most congested points in Moscow with a multi-junction intersection with six lanes of traffic in each direction.At the far right you can make out the Golden Arch of a McDonald’s cafe and below it is the logo of a KFC restaurant.
The beautiful onion domes call attention to the Church of Saint Nikolas on Bolvanovka at Taganskaya Square with a view of the electric tram & trolleybus cables overhead.
The sign is in Russian Cyrillic and reads “stop.” Seen in the lower part of the photo is the red “M” denoting a Metro subway station, the Taganskaya station.
The Church holds a special place in Moscow history, not only because it is a Bulgarian Orthodox Church, but construction was barely completed in the year 1712, just before Peter the Great’s order than no stone buildings could be built in Russia outside of his great capital city, St. Petersburg.
During the oppressive Soviet period the Communists closed the church and used it as a warehouse. It was returned to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in 1990 and today it is an active parish.
The beautiful Novospassky Monastery (Новоспасский монастырь) in Moscow. The monastery itself dates to the 14th century. It is considered to be the oldest monastery in Moscow. It was originally located inside the walls of the Kremlin.
Most of the surviving structures were completed when Mikhail Romanov became Tsar in 1612. of Several members of the early Romanov dynasty are interred in the basement of the main Cathedral which dates to 1645.
The photo below caught a scene of onion domes in the snow while an unknown girl was spending a moment of silence to pray. The main Cathedral features an area where visitors can light candles and pray for cancer victims.
Napoleon’s troops ransacked the monastery but it was restored after the French were driven out of Russia. The Communists closed the monastery and turned it into a political prison during much of the Soviet period.
In 1991 the government returned the property to the Russian Orthodox Church.
We understand that the modern Western world is consumed by political correctness. Drowning in it to be blunt. So, please pardon our use of terms like handicapped, physically challenged, disabled, and the like. We will make no apologies for stating the obvious.
This topic is introduced with the hope that perhaps someday Russia will join the rest of the modern world in caring about, and making it easier for her citizens with physical challenges to enjoy life with the same privileges as everyone else.
Visitors do not see a lot of folk with physical disabilities in everyday Russia. Apartment buildings, many of which are older buildings with no elevators, simply leave this segment of the population out in the cold. Or, locked up in an apartment with no access to leave other than family and friends who come to carry a wheelchair down several flights of stairs.
The Metro systems in Russia are some of the most efficient, carrying millions of passengers daily. But only recently have new Metro stations been equipped with public elevators. Despite promises from the government, those are so few, in a system with 200 stations in Moscow alone, to hardly be worth counting.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev had begun a programme to modernize Russian facilities and to adopt laws that would make it easier for the disabled to enjoy greater access to life in Russia. Just prior to leaving office May 2012, Medvedev signed into law the legislation that ratified Russia’s compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.
Regrettably, the current presidential administration seems to have no time for such matters and the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.
The issue of access is further complicated by the fact that there is more concern for families with baby strollers than for individuals who are restricted from using public services for lack of access. It is understandable that a baby stroller is pushed by someone who is an active consumer, but frankly those in wheelchairs could be active consumers too–if they had the mobility to become more involved in the day to day economy.
Lack of mobility can be a prison for those who have no way to move more freely in their neighborhoods. Those whose apartments are accessible only by stairs can be practically trapped inside their homes for long periods of time.
Sometimes the large institutions that might be expected to serve the entire community, such as banks and medical facilities, either provide no access at all, or something so restrictive as to make it almost useless.
Moscow is not the only Russian city with such pathetic conditions; and in fact is one of the more accessible cities across Russia. That in itself is depressing. To be sure, some commercial and state enterprises have made attempts to provide more convenient access to those with physical disabilities, but they are a minority.
In Saint Petersburg the State museums such as the Hermitage, Catherine’s Palace, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, and the Mariinsky Theatre have made accessibility a priority in more recent years. Those facilities have added elevators, wide doors, and special bathroom stalls for handicapped access.
Hotels and other tourist oriented facilities seem to be taking the lead in introducing Russia to the ideas of providing greater access to handicapped visitors, but frankly those are facilities not often frequented by Russian citizens.
Local businesses, those which might benefit from attracting a wider clientele, seem hardly interested at all. It is understandable when those with disabilities might wonder as to what is the point?
Russians with limited mobility face tremendous restrictions not only via physical access, but in what can only be described as medieval attitudes from some Russians. In late 2015, one Russian apartment owner’s association blocked developers from adding a wheelchair ramp out of fears the ramp would decrease real estate valuations.
John Morris, writing for WheelchairTravel.org, recalls the infamous expression of “There are no invalids in the U.S.S.R.!” Sadly, that insane and cruel pronouncement was made by a Soviet official when refusing to host the Paralympic Games alongside the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow. Instead, the Paralympics were hosted in The Netherlands, a nation with more civilized attitudes on the issue.
When it comes to accessibility, Russia remains out in the cold.