Mapping Moscow’s Tolerance

A few days ago the Russian urban lifestyle magazine Afisha commissioned some big data geeks to visualize the percentage of Muscovite landlords specifying “Russians only” (“Slavs only,” “No Caucasians,” etc.) in their home rental listings.

Here is the resulting map (red is more “xenophobic”):


The range of landlords making ethnic requirements varied from 0% in the center and west of the city to up to a third in the outskirts, especially the east and south. (The district where I come from is around 22%).

What do they tend to have in common?

Here is a map of rental prices in 2013 (red is more expensive):


Here is a map of the percentage of ethnic Russians from 1993-2003 on the basis of local birth records (red is more ethnically Russian):



And finally here is a map of the official candidate Sobyanin’s and the pro-Western liberal opposition candidate Navalny’s share of the vote in the 2013 Moscow city elections (bluer regions strongly favored Sobynian, while greener regions saw Navalny do relatively better):


In other words, a typical limousine liberals vs. Putintariat story.

Although the lack of “Russians only” criteria in the richer, more liberal areas is probably substantially on account of their greater progressivism (even though Navalny is somewhat of an ethnic nationalism himself) the purely economic reasons are probably more important. If you can pay the rental rates in the center, which are twice as high as in the outskirts, chances are you’ll be better behaved regardless of your ethnicity and won’t mess up the place. Landlords in the outskirts however might have greater incentives to play it safe.

Or this happens.


Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. Liberals always want to live in city centre so they party party 24/7 easier and keep living their parasitical single life.

  2. If you can pay the rental rates in the center, which are twice as high as in the outskirts, chances are you’ll be better behaved regardless of your ethnicity and won’t mess up the place.

    It can get more complicated than that. People I know who rent very expensive places refuse to rent to Russians, also, and prefer foreigners. Russians with a lot of money likely also have certain connections that may enable them to get away with non-payment or even to try to take the place. Of course Caucasians are out of the question though.

  3. Erik Sieven says

    funny that even within Moscow the western part of the city is seems to me more western.

  4. I grew up on the eastern edge of Moscow, within sight of the MKAD, which then formed the city limit. We never called it the MKAD though – it was always “the encircling road” (okruzhnaya doroga) instead.

    At that time the social distance between the city’s center and its commie blocks (which seems to be the English term for mikrorayony) was probably greater than the social distance between Moscow’s commie blocks and the rest of the country. I remember my mom saying things like “what are you wearing, we’re going to the Center, you can’t wear THAT to the center”. Like peasants going into town.

    There was a children’s quiz show in Moscow in late Soviet times whose name I now forget. In the final rounds you always saw school number 3 (or whatever) compete with school number 5 (or whatever). Those low numbers came from “the center”. Where I grew up all the school numbers were in the 400s or the 600s.

    I’m curious about why the western part of Moscow outside of the center is now wealthier than the eastern part where I grew up. The University and the Moscow City business district are in the western part. That might have something to do with it.

    I’m guessing that most of the rich people on the western side of town live in luxury high-rises that were built after the dissolution of the USSR. Maybe in late Soviet times the western part outside of the center was emptier, so more new high-rises could fit in it in the 90s and 00s than in the east? I’m just guessing here.

  5. Anatoly Karlin says

    I remember my mom saying things like “what are you wearing, we’re going to the Center, you can’t wear THAT to the center”. Like peasants going into town.

    There is a reason Moscow is called a “big village.” 😉

  6. Immigrant from former USSR says

    Recollections, sweet recollections !
    In Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry Olympiads the students (shkol’niki) from “specialized” school #2 [near modern day “Dvoretz Pionerov” and MGU (University)] and “specialized” school #57 [center of the city] were prominently represented. I did not attend any of those, and my older son did not attend any of them. Still, each has won once the same Olympiad, with interval 30 years. One of my nephews attended school #57, which was quite distant from the place he lived with his parents; no knowledge about his participation in Olympiads. However, he met there his future wife. This nephew got his Ph.D. in Quantum Chemistry from University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

  7. A friend who lives in Yugozapadnaya told me the wind travels from west to east, so the air is fresher in the western than the eastern part of the city (conversely water tends to travel in the opposite direction, the only drinkable natural spring is in the city’s northeast). We lived right on Tverskaya and I always found those “outskirts” to be rather dreary, until the pine-forested dacha regions beyond the city.

  8. On one level I understand that commie blocks are ugly. Of all the aesthetic decisions that have ever been made in architecture, these are some of the worst. But on a different, emotional level I feel warm when I look at them. I had a great childhood, it was an innocent world that’s gone forever, not just from my life, but from the world in general, and the sight of these neighborhoods reminds me of it.

  9. Wow “unfree” Russia actually has freedom of association

  10. West and southwest, both the city and the suburbs, are prestigious because the wind blows from that direction and manufacturing was mainly centered in the east and north during Soviet times.

  11. AP and JL, I did not know about the wind. I guess that explains why all of those Soviet-era writers settled in Peredelkino too.

  12. LondonBob says

    Prevailing wind direction determines the expensive areas, was especially important when factories and coal fires heated houses.

  13. It’s obviously the same in each town in the world.
    Correlation between low prices and xenophobic behavior is sure.