Whatever your opinion about Russia’s politics, LGBT tolerance, etc., you can’t deny Russian commitment to the great heritage of Russian culture and Russian literature. And the Moscow Metro has pulled off the kind of cultural initiative that many other global metropolises can only envy – free ebook downloads of classic Russian literature for subway passengers, as part of an initiative to introduce free wifi across the network. Access is by scanning a QR code at the station, which then allows access to the virtual library, according to the report in The Guardian., with titles including, perhaps appropriately, Nikolai Gogol’s “Nevsky Prospect” and Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with a Dog,” as well as Mikhail Bulgakov’s “Travels around Crimea.”

According to other sites, the program involves 30 poster placements, with Dinamo, Krasnye Vorota, and Belorusskya stations already displaying them. Some 100 works are already available, with more to come, and further poster designs and locations to follow soon.

Moscow Metro claims to be the world’s busiest subway network by daily passenger volume, and is also famous for the magnificence of some of its stations, conceived as artistic monuments to Stalinist triumphalism from its opening in 1935. The new move is completely in keeping with this added cultural significance. And with Virgin Media pushing London Undergound wifi to its 15oth station, you can only hope for Dickens’s London on the Tube – or Balzac’s Paris on the Paris Metro.


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