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