Donald Trump delivers his first address as the 45th American president in a broadcast carried by Russian state television network RT on Jan. 20, 2017. A portrait of Vladimir Lenin hangs on the wall of the photographer's home.
Donald Trump delivers his first address as the 45th American president in a broadcast carried by Russian state television network RT on Jan. 20, 2017. A portrait of Vladimir Lenin hangs on the wall of the photographer's home.Davide Monteleone for TIME
Donald Trump delivers his first address as the 45th American president in a broadcast carried by Russian state television network RT on Jan. 20, 2017. A portrait of Vladimir Lenin hangs on the wall of the photographer's home.
The shop "Armia Rassia" offers a 10% discount to all U.S. citizens in Moscow on the occasion of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.
A spread of Russian collectible dolls for sale around Moscow's Red Square depict President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 20, 2017.
A drawing of Donald Trump is depicted on a Superman-like body on the occasion of his inauguration at an event organized by Maria Katasonova and TzarGrad TV in Moscow on Jan. 20, 2017. Katasonova was a candidate MP in the last Duma elections.
A portrait of U.S. President Donald Trump at an event organized by Maria Katasonova and TzarGrad TV on the occasion of Trump's inauguration in Moscow on Jan. 20, 2017. Katasonova, was a candidate MP in the last Duma election.
A crowd watches Donald Trump's swearing-in ceremony at his presidential inauguration at an event in Moscow on Jan. 20, 2017. The event was organized by Maria Katasonova, a candidate MP in the last Duma elections, and TzarGrad TV.
A small gaggle of American expatriates await the televised inaugural ceremonies for Donald Trump at H2 Bar in central Moscow on Jan. 20, 2017.
A man watches U.S. President Donald Trump deliver his first address on his Inauguration Day in Moscow on Jan. 20, 2017.
Donald Trump delivers his first address as the 45th American president in a broadcast carried by Russian state televisio
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Davide Monteleone for TIME
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Donald Trump's Inauguration: The View From Moscow

Jan 21, 2017

Midnight in Moscow. It's been four hours since Donald Trump became the new President of United States. Over the past two days, I sought out scenes that could represent the feeling for the event in Moscow and perhaps illustrate the connection between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months. My research was pretty disappointing: most of the people I know here refuse to watch TV, nor did they have any intention of following the inauguration ceremonies in Washington.

Around the Red Square, there were some Russian souvenir dolls that depict Trump, sold alongside others of Putin, but nobody seemed to be interested in the topic when I asked. I did find three events via social networks. At 7 p.m. (11 a.m. in D.C.) at the first event, the H2 bar around Belorusskaya, a central metro station, is pretty empty with a few American and Canadian expats drinking beers. I move to a huge loft not far from the Ritz-Carlton on Tverskaya Street. That’s the same luxury hotel where an uncorroborated dossier claimed Trump was at the center of compromising and salacious behavior during a previous trip.

Here, Maria Katasonova, a young parliamentary candidate who ran to represent the nationalist party Rodina in the last Duma elections, organized a gathering, a book presentation (a political biography of Donald Trump) and conference on future U.S.-Russia relations. The place is not particularly full, and a big triptych portraying Putin, Trump and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen attracted plenty of attention from the media.

The ceremony is projected on a large screen but everybody seems more interested in chatting than following the inauguration. Surely there is some genuine interest and support for Trump, but the appearance is more that of a PR event. Not so different, in fact, from the discount day offered to “U.S. citizens only” at Armia Russia, a private company that sells army-branded clothing and accessories, on Trump’s big day. Some Russians, and surely the leadership of the country, may have some real interest in the conduct of the new U.S. President and their future relations, but as for the view from this part of Moscow on Jan. 20, it seemed to be just another day to do some business.

Davide Monteleone is a photographer based in Moscow. Follow him on Instagram @davidemonteleonestudio.

Andrew Katz, who edited this photo essay, is TIME's International Multimedia Editor. Follow him on Twitter @katz.

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