Sir, That no Russian leader was born in Moscow provides a perfect answer to Simon Kuper’s article “Why small cities can generate big ideas” (Opening Shot, June 8). Our great writer Pushkin noticed that people in big cities become as indistinguishable as hats, while those in the provinces develop an ingenuity of character.
Not being distracted by city lights may play a role. When I moved to the Russian capital in 1989 from a small Siberian town, many Muscovites were surprised at my habit of listening to the BBC World Service on short-wave radio and reading The Morning Star and other British papers legally available to any Russian by post through subscription. Perhaps that my idea of learning your language wasn’t that big at all, but the truth is that had I been living in a huge city spending two hours a day commuting I would have been too busy to . . . well, to generate any.
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