Wrapped In Cotton Wool

Faced with shortages and squabbling reformers, the mayor of Leningrad discovers the difficulty of getting things done

By 5 p.m., streetlamps flicker on in front of Leningrad's palatial city hall and a blanket of luminescent mist settles over the gilded dome of St. Isaac's Cathedral, just across the square. Night and fog come early now to the far northern city, built on islands in the Neva River. But the workday is far from over for Leningrad Mayor Anatoli Sobchak. In his elegant second-floor office, once used by the Czars, he reflects on the problems of this metropolis of 5 million, famed as the cradle of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. "I feel as if I am wrapped in cotton...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!