At a recent committee meeting (picking up on the actions of Part 3, Chapter 23), Karenin scores a political victory over his rivals in the state when a government report provides data to support Karenin's views on racial minorities in Russia.
Stremov (remember, Karenin's stated enemy in their political lives) then adopts the clever tactic of proposing measures that follow the same lines as Karenin's but that are so extreme that they're ridiculous. This turns everyone against the guy with the original ideas: Karenin.
Karenin refuses to give in, but instead proposes that he take a trip out to the provinces to examine for himself the lives of rational minorities.
On his way to the provinces, Karenin stops for three days in Moscow.
In Moscow, Karenin hears his name being called on the street. It's Oblonsky and Dolly with their children Tanya and Grisha.
Oblonsky and Dolly express astonishment that Karenin has not stopped by for a visit. They insist that he come to dinner. Karenin is chilly and awkward the whole time.