Moscow: Cold nights, nuclear energy and the famous red square

Children visiting the Kremlin area last week. Millions of tourists visit the Kremlin every year. / Eugène Kwibuka

My trip to Russia recently was a great input towards my thirsty for travel and constant quest to understand world affairs.

Well, the excitement for the trip to Russia was intense right from when my editor asked me whether I would be happy to travel there for a meeting about nuclear technologies.

Being in President Vladimir Putin’s country, and attending a forum about nuclear energy were equally exciting.

I have always wanted to go to Russia because I have heard a lot about the country, including being one of the toughest opponents of America’s policies in the world and having some of the coldest cities on earth.

In Moscow, people drive posh cars, especially those of German or Japanese make. / Eugène Kwibuka

A few years back when I was living as a student in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, I would hear from conversations about tough winters there that the city is one of the coldest capitals of the world along with Moscow and Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.

So, this time around I was ready to face the Russian winter and I reached out deep into my bags to make sure I carry a scarf with me and a few warm clothes.

I was also excited about the trip to Russia given the topic of nuclear energy that was to be deeply discussed at a forum on atomic energy in the Russian Southern city of Sochi under the auspices of ROSATOM, one of the world’s most experienced providers of nuclear energy services.

Before I went to this meeting, I had been unaware that nuclear technology is actually useful for peaceful purposes such as in medicine, agriculture and food processing, manufacturing, and electricity generation.

All I had grown up hearing is the lethal power of nuclear bombs and I would relate anything to do with nuclear technology with plans to destroy.

The forum in Sochi, dubbed XI International Forum and Atomexpo 2019, was an eye opener in the sense that I now see nuclear technology as a useful knowledge to acquire with a purpose to improve lives.\

Moscow is a beautiful and livable city despite its cold weather. / Eugène Kwibuka

After the meeting here, I boarded a plane for a two-hour flight to Moscow where I spent a night and the whole following day exploring the city.

Cold? Yes it is. Do people here wear warm clothes to keep warm? Yes they do.

Does Moscow strive to keep Russia original and against foreign influence? Yes it does. That explains why very few people in this city speak English and why American dollars are not accepted by traders even at internationally sensitive places like airport restaurants.

That said, Moscow is a beautiful place with all its gorgeous buildings, great roads plied by posh cars  of mostly German and Japanese make, historical museums and Russian leaders’ mausoleums around Putin’s office building called the Kremlin, as well as friendlyy people who seem eager to directly respond to your questions as soon as you ask.

The Kremlin

The Kremlin, President Putin’s office, is a walled complex in the centre of the Russian capital Moscow, which overlooks a river named Moskva to the South, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and a place called Red Square to the East, as well as the Alexander Garden to the West.

A security officer on duty guarding the Kremlin in Moscow last week. / Eugène Kwibuka

It includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers. In addition, within this complex is the Grand Kremlin Palace which serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation and as a museum visited by millions of citizens and tourists every year.

The Red Square

One of the places I had a chance to visit near by the Kremlin is the Red Square. It is a social place where people come for a walk and an open space used during celebrations of different important days in Russia.

One of the days is May 9, which is the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. Red Square means ‘nice square’ because in Russian language red may as well mean beautiful.

The writer in the middle of Red Square area in Moscow last week. / Courtesy

On 9th of May, tanks are paraded here to celebrate Russian victory. Concerts happen here and the country’s President normally gives a speech in front of the mausoleum where Lenin, a great Russian revolutionary, is buried. Lenin was the first socialist revolutionary to be buried here but this is where Stalin, another revolutionary, is also buried.

In this area, Putin’s speeches are normally about the importance of patriotism and the importance of preserving peace in the world.

As I boarded a plane back to Rwanda, ready for a twelve-hour flight to Kigali, I felt thankful to my journalism career that I finally got a chance to visit remarkable Russia and witness her beauty and power.