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September 24, 2002

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In Moscow, wealthy Russians pay the government for special privileges like a permit and car siren that allows them to ignore traffic laws. It's common to see Mercedes or Volvos with police sirens honking horns and running red lights. Mafia-types have no-necked bodyguards muscle their way to the front of lines or through a crowd. The motto of Russia - with money you can do anything.
Moscow''s mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, decided the Muscovites could do McDonalds better than Americans, thus was born the first Russian fast food chain called Russkoe Bistro. Here you can order meat filled pirozhki and pelminis (little dumplings) for under $1. Unlike McDonalds, don't expect to find a bathroom or friendly service.
It's not the Sheraton. It's Russia's White House, officially the House of Government of the Russian Federation.