The Vasilievsky Slope place is an extension of the Red Square also pitched from St Basil’s Cathedral parallel to the Kremlin Walls reaching the quay at the bottom. It’s a relatively new element of the map of Moscow appeared only after the eviction of the Napoleonic troops in 1812 followed by the city center reshaping. For a long time the area was covered with private houses, but they were demolished in the 1830s according to the city development plans in connection with the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge construction that now looms over the Slope. The city has never really found a good use for this piece of ground, and it became a place for outdoor events such as military parades and rock concerts.
On May 28, 1987 19-year-old amateur pilot Matthias Rust landed his Cessna 172B Skyhawk plane directly on the Vasilievsky Slope place having driven the USSR into panic. Setting off from Hamburg, he flew at first to Helsinki, where he dropped to a very low altitude to avoid radars. He told air traffic control he headed to Stockholm, but then he set a course for Moscow.
Rust told the press that he’d wanted to make a gesture for peace. Moscow authorities interpreted his misconduct otherwise and said it was an act of hooliganism and violation of the soviet border. He was convicted and received a four-year sentence, but served only 15 months before he was amnestied.
Cynics began to refer to the spot where he had landed as Sheremetievo 3 (Moscow International Airport Terminal non-existent at the time).
After so-called “emergency” landing of Matthias Rust on the Red Square a joke came into common use:
“A foreign tourist is walking on the Red Square and lights up a cigarette. A Moscow cop comes up to the tourist and asks him to put the cigarette out.”