We took a detour up the Volga river to Yaroslavl, one of the 'Golden Ring' cities in the country side outside Moscow.  in 2010 it will celebrate its 1000th anniversary.  The city center looked reasonably prosperous.  They were proud of their square that had a Lenin statue that seemed to have survived.
Here's the efforts of the garden club.  I think they are loath to cut anything because the growing season is so short.    They probably want to enjoy it as much as possible.
Our first stop was at what seemed to be a former social club for the Communist Party. 

On the walls, there was an array of photos of the Commie Greats.  Each of the images was suitably framed with a matte of Russian Red.  Note the ornamentation on the molding above the door.  This building must have been important for something.  Now it's a tourist trap. 

A treasure in one of the display cases.  The local athletic club' medals and trophies were displayed there. 
Yaroslavl was known as having a big tire factory.  Perhaps it was the only tire factory in the country.  I guess this was a trophy for 50 years of tires and missiles.  Missiles top blow up Americans and tires for the tractors for the workers, because a busy worker is a happy worker in the worker's paradise.
The style of this painting reminded me of the depression-era WPA murals.  Here comes the Red Army to save the day. 
A musical troupe did a whole song and dance routine for us.  It was quite enjoyable, affording a sense of the local culture and music.
Back on the bus to Sovietskaya Square, built around a church.  This is the Church of the Prophet Elijah.  There are some beautiful frescoes inside.  Services were in session at the time of our visit, so no interior photos.  After the 1917 revolution, the church was deemed to be property of the state, and it was used as a warehouse.   The Soviets stored boots in the church.  The felt of the boots absorbed the moisture from the air, creating a dry environment inside.  The dry air is the main reason the frescoes are in such good shape.  Was this a deliberate choice on the part of some bureaucrat to perhaps save the frescoes? Likely not.  But still, another story on how the religious artifacts weathered the Soviet era in what seems to be reasonably good condition.  Certainly better than what I had expected to see.
There was some fun ornamentation around the perimeter of the church:
Owl with Goatee Looks like that animal the exorcist girl drew.
Bambi The Russian two-headed eagle, rendered in chocolate
Some critter not very happy about being ridden. Bird with grapes.
Surrounding the square were several Soviet-era government buildings.
The Duma for the region
A detail of the ornamentation at the top of the facade.
Across from the Duma was a large building that I recall being mentioned as a university.
Some details from that building.  We were told the bear is representative of the region.
Yaroslavl had numerous parks throughout the city, all well kept, and reasonably well groomed, given their inclination not to trim anything.
We were taken to a monastery along the river.
An interesting sculpture on the wall.
Note the eclectic architectural styles of one building constructed in phases.
A dash of color.  Lots of flower plantings everywhere.  Also, not trimmed back or hemmed in like a British garden.
A delivery truck that caught my eye.
Want to know more?
The regional government's site:
An academic site: