Then there is the city itself. Quite wealthy through trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, the centre of Perm is laid out on a grid, with what were mainly two-storey wooden and brick built mansions, now fallen into decay. Around this are masses of poorly built and now also crumbling Soviet housing blocks. Still, it feels a lively city (for some reason I kept being reminded of Birmingham) with - in this last autumn moments - many people out and about.
What I saw actually happening was some renovation going on to some of the older brick buildings, and a small amount of miscellaneous additions of street furniture and public art. Hardly enough to scratch the surface of general shabbiness and dereliction, but just enough to make people cross.