Moscow toasts all things Brit

Observations on Anglomania

Not to be outdone by New York, where the Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating British designers with its show "Anglomania", Moscow has also been showing off its passion for things British. When the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts last month launched its tribute to Norman Foster, the man Russia calls "the Mozart of Modernism", 3,000 people turned up to hear him speak, in the fervent hope that he would reveal details of the Russian projects he is said to be considering.

Foster has already submitted his design for the Russia Tower in western Moscow, a $1.2bn structure which would be the tallest building in Europe and, murmur Muscovites dreamily, could just kick-start a new era in Russian architecture. With a little help from their new British friend, of course.

At the same time, the Russian edition of GQ was unveiling its own tribute: an issue devoted to "London, city of heroes", promising the inside track on "Russian millionaires on the Thames" and "All gourmets and sybarites need to know about London". The biggest cover line? Chelsea, of course, and an exclusive interview with José Mourinho, "trainer to the governor of Chukhotka" (a reference to Roman Abramovich, who rules over the remote Arctic region).

Inside, readers are treated to some unlikely buy-ins from British GQ, which show how well-acquainted Russian readers must be with UK culture: a Piers Morgan interview with Gordon Ramsay (Morgan, a "tabloid legend", gets a half-page picture on the contributors' page) and Rod Liddle on office sex ("Our British colleague researches deep-rooted erotic tendencies at the BBC").

The guide to the capital explores why "150 million Russians are in love with London". The writer Evgeny Kiselev explores his own fascination with the city, admitting that part of it is about debunking some of the Soviet myths he absorbed in his schooldays: "The contrast between the real London and the gloomy city of rain and fog straight out of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel is quite shocking," he writes. He suggests riding on the top of a double-decker bus, visiting a Notting Hill pub ("at night it will be packed with locals") and taking a walk by the river ("which will convince you that London is not one bit less beautiful than Paris").

There are warnings for the Russian reader, too. Do not stay at the Lanesborough unless you want to see half of Moscow. Don't eat at Nobu: you will end up sitting near Boris Berezovsky or Abramovich. Do not shop at Harrods - Selfridges has a wider selection of luxury goods. Do not hire a limousine or a driver - black cabs have sufficient prestige ("and are not expensive").

Finally, a cultural tip. Do not be fooled by British girls who smile and laugh. They are not flirting or inviting your attention; they are just being friendly and polite.