The Union: Then and Now

Nearly 20 years after being expelled, a TIME correspondent returns to discover what is new -- and not new -- in Moscow

Seen again from the air, Moscow is unchanged. The city squats as always on the steppes like an ungainly old hulk, beached and abandoned, its Stalin-era spires so many masts thrusting into the gloom, and the nearest sea hundreds of miles away. Fair warning, neo-Napoleons! Even with glasnost, perestroika and the Pepsi Revolution, Moscow the impregnable lives on, isolated and forbidding, a dour reminder of what it means to be Russian.

On the ground it is much the same at first. Behind the hard eyes of a young passport officer lurk the ghosts of his country's history: Ivan the Terrible, Peter...

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