Oscar-Winning Russian Director Lends His Voice to Moscow Metro

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Nikita Mikhalkov is going underground to mark the subway system's 80th anniversary.

Oscar winning Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov has taken on a new job: voicing public announcements on the Moscow Metro.

Mikhalkov is one of a host of Russian celebrities roped in to celebrate the subway system's 80th anniversary. 

Many Russians remember when Mikhalkov took to the stars, appearing as an astronaut in a political TV commercial in 1995 warning of the dangers of a return to Communism. Now he has gone underground in support of the Russian capital's mass transit system.

 

Mikhalkov's smooth-as-a-single malt baritone can be heard on metro cars running clockwise on the system's circle line, announcing the next station and reminding passengers to "be kind to one another and give up seats for the elderly, invalids and, of course, pregnant women." The dulcet tones of actress and singer Kristina Orbakaite, the daughter of Russia's famous pop diva Alla Pugacheva, can be heard making similar announcements on trains traveling counter-clockwise.

The system of male/female announcers was devised to help the blind navigate their way round the Moscow metro. Trains running on radial lines into the center have male announcers; those going back out to the suburbs have female. Muscovites joke that an easy way to remember this is that "your boss calls you to work; your wife calls you home."

Others among the two dozen Russian celebrities involved in the 80th anniversary celebrations include singer Alexander Rozenbaum and Josef Kobzon, the veteran crooner known as the "Soviet Frank Sinatra," who has been banned from the U.S for 20 years because of suspected mob links and was put on the EU's sanctions list earlier this year due to his support for the Kremlin's seizure of the Crimea.

Mikhalkov, known for his staunchly nationalistic films and for his support of President Vladimir Putin's policies toward Ukraine, won the best foreign language Academy Award in 1995 for Burnt by the Sun. Two recent sequels to that film, taking the action forward from the purges of Stalin's Russia in the 1930s to the war years, were box-office flops, both in Russia and abroad.

The first Moscow metro line, taking passengers from Sokolniki station to Park Kultury, the station adjacent to Moscow's famous Gorky Park, opened May 15, 1935.

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