St Petersburg;

THE OTHER St Petersburg: a book

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A few curious facts

First, a few facts.

Maps and official statistics give St Petersburg the appearance of a large city with a population of almost five million. This is misleading: St Petersburg is essentially small. Its true population, after deduction of tourists and foreign businessmen and visiting Caucasian and Asian market traders and guesting mafiosi and banditi, is nearer to 900 thousand. Of this figure, which is still too high, about a third are suburbians, living in the white multi-storey coffins built by the Great Soviet Undertaker on the city's edges. Another third are home-grown millionaires or businessmen, existing in this city only notionally (or for purposes of tax evasion) - being in fact already Volvo- or Mercedes-owning citizens of the International Capitalist Community. Which leaves only 300 thousand or so ordinary citizens of St Petersburg. This figure is probably still too high.

The city's cartographical profile is similarly in need of correction. Take a map of St Petersburg and a large pair of scissors and snip off all districts of the city north of Petrogradskaya Storona, east of the eastern arc of the Neva, south of Ligovsky Prospekt on one side of Nevsky and of Suvorovsky Prospekt on the other. In addition, enlarge and emphasize the following structural pivots: Nevsky Prospekt, Mikhailovsky Garden, the embankments of the Moika, House No. 10 on Pushkinskaya Street. Next, take a map of the Crimea, identify and cut out Koktebel (on the Black Sea coast) and paste onto the city's southern boundary, next to Ligovsky Prospekt. Koktebel, as every sun-loving native of this city knows, is St Petersburg's southernmost point. St Petersburg should now look something like this (see map on next page).