No this isn't evidence of an early, unsubtle, attempt by the west to spy on the Russian government, although you never know. This is a photograph from our British Insulated Callendars Cables (BICC) archive and shows the then named British Insulated & Helsby Cables Company installing electricity cables in Moscow.
We're not sure if the cables were for lighting or trams, and we don't know the exact date, although 1908 is written on the back of the photograph. However, it is an interesting photograph so that's a good enough reason to put it on the blog. I especially like the look of the very tall man in the bottom left corner. The large BICC archive contains a lot of photographs, including many street scenes of cable laying in various locations. The catalogue for the collection is available via the National Register of Archives (search for British Insulated Callendars Cables at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra) and to view the records contact the Maritime Archives & Library.
Lead image: British Insulated & Helsby Cables Company installing electricity cables in Moscow, (ref: BICC/VII/4/1/2b)