When one thinks of Russia, one thinks of spies. Its president is one of them, after all. This association comes to mind especially vividly in the light of the spy novels I’ve been listening to lately. Their well-developed Moscow plot is centred around Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, with the headquarters in Yasenevo.
Yasenevo is one of the districts in the south of Moscow, at the very end of the orange line. The office where I used to work happens to be located on the same line, so, by default, it was very often in the centre of my attention. Whenever I saw “Novoyasenevskaya” on the metro plan, I was thinking of the spies, the plots and the secret operations I had read about. Then, one day, I went there – and the reality turned out to be much more mundane than I expected.
Novoyasenevskaya is one of the simple, symmetrical stations that could have been built at any point in the post-Stalinist Soviet Union. Its tile-covered walls bring to mind a beer bottle more than a secret agents’ bunker. Once again, the expectations failed to conform to reality.