A Moscow metro station named after the famously gloomy Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky opened in June despite fears that its murals, considered "depressing" by some, will turn it into a "suicide mecca".
The murals depict scenes from some of Dostoevsky's best-known novels. On one wall, a Crime and Punishment character, Rodion Raskolnikov, wields an axe over the elderly pawnbroker Alyona Ivanovna, who he chops to death in the novel. Nearby, a character from Demons holds a gun to his temple.
Several prominent Russian psychologists have expressed concern that the station could attract depressed or suicidal people looking for an "appropriate" place to commit suicide.
The station's inauguration was mysteriously postponed for over a month amid speculation that the transport system's chief himself had voiced concern over the decor after visiting the station in May. However, when the Dostoevskaya (as it is called in Russian) station opened on June 19, the murals remained unchanged.
The artist responsible for the gloomy decor was unapologetic, telling Russian daily Izvestia that he didn't understand the mural's critics. "What did you want? Scenes of dancing? Dostoevsky [novels] don't have them," he quipped.
So far, no suicides have been attempted in the controversial station.
Video posted on Youtube by moskvaminsk, June 19 2010.
The controversial murals in Moscow's Dostoevsky metro station.
“The murals add a little spice to daily routine”
I didn't find Dostoevskaya gloomy or macabre. In fact, I liked it. It's light, beautiful and original, like many other Moscow metro stations. I think this kind of decoration adds a little spice to passengers' daily routines.
The writer the station is named after isn't a cheerful author, period. It would not make sense to have a cheerful, colourful Dostoevsky station.
Anything can provoke suicidal thoughts in depressed or mentally unstable people - including a little "Dead End" or "No Exit" sign. It's a psychologist's job to deal with that problem, not an architect's."
“The atmosphere down there is really oppressing”
The station is really frightening. I'd heard of it, but I thought people were joking or exaggerating the problem. Then I went down there myself and realised the critics were right. The atmosphere down there is really oppressing. The murals are macabre, there's a vast empty space, and a heavy silence ... It really weighs on you. It wouldn't surprise me that mentally unstable or depressed people might be inspired to commit suicide in such a negative atmosphere."