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10 July 2010
It's a typical day in the Moscow metro, passengers ride the escalator down into the depths, beneath Russia's biggest city. One can see businessmen and women
But somehow, this station is different. As passengers arrive inside the newly-opened Dostoevsky stop, it's eerily quiet. Some people even stop dead in their tracks, so they can stare at the newly unveiled murals that have been created on the station's walls.
Right there, in black and white, are giant, floor to ceiling mosaics depicting death and suicide.
In one, a character from Dostoevsky's The Demons is raising a gun to his temple.
The renderings were so controversial that some critics blamed the disturbing images for the station's delayed by one-month opening.
Vladimir Supkin, a professor of Russian literature at the International University in Moscow, says he is completely against the murals.
He says the station is not a happy one. He says when he saw it, he was very scared because the station isn't light, it's very dark. He says the murals aren't calming and that they are very strange, and he adds that they put people in very bad moods.
Supkin goes on to say that he doesn't understand why the author was even chosen to be the face of the new station.
He says that first of all, people don't read as much as they used to and people know his name, but they don't read his novels. He says he thinks that Dostoevsky isn't a very popular author now and that people like to read Tolstoy more.
Some mental health practitioners have even gone so far as to say that the morbid murals could convince some to take their own lives.
Jayla Siklinskaya, a psychiatrist in private practice in Moscow, says the pictures could play a role but one would have to be in a predisposed state then one may see the morbid murals with very different eyes, which could adversely affect someone.
Siklinkskaya goes on to say she doubts that the average person would be adversely affected by seeing the images on a daily basis. She says there are a lot of graphic images that people see every day, even on the news and those images don't drive people to commit suicide.
Pros and cons
This is the local station for Vera Gallavina, 63. She says although the pictures might be depressing, Dostoevsky is an important part of Russian history.
"The pictures, the style itself, I think it's just wonderful. It's his face, it's his nature, it's his soul. I think it's absolutely genius," she said.
Oleg Boraxov, 65, says he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. He says not everyone likes the images, some do, some don't. He says he's just happy that the station was finally built. He says he's been waiting years for it to open because it makes his life much easier to have a metro station right around the corner.