Business, Politics and Culture in Saint Petersburg

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Business, Politics and Culture in Saint Petersburg

Originally appeared at A-specto, translated by Borislav exclusively for SouthFront

This year the International Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg (from the 16th to the 18th of June) will be observed with particular interest. Strong curiosity cause not only the economic issues but also the political implications. It is certain that the forum will be attended by Jean-Claude Juncker. When the unofficial information appeared for the first time, about the possible visit of the head of the European Commission in St. Petersburg, reactions were diametrically opposed. Some welcomed this idea because they saw in it, the possibility of improving relations between Russia and the EU. Others by contrast, were very negative, because they thought that Russia should be held as long as possible in a regime of sanctions and isolation. When Juncker’s visit was officially confirmed, several countries audibly expressed their protest. The most active among them were the US, UK and Lithuania. Bulgaria this time, was not listed in the Russophobic menu. Perhaps President Plevneliev and other staff defamers of Russia were distracted and therefore missed the opportunity to demonstrate their upright Atlanticism. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Plevneliev is reminded of this distraction when he tries getting some international sinecure post.

But back to the forum. It is entirely possible that exactly there will be conducted a meeting behind closed doors between Jean-Claude Juncker and Russian President Putin. Such a meeting could be a clear sign of improved relations between Russia and the EU. In Brussels’s offices there are already openly saying that the next person who will visit Moscow will be the leader of the European diplomacy Federica Mogherini. Officially confirmed and arriving in St. Petersburg is Italian Prime minister Matteo Renzi. Together with Vladimir Putin and the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Renzi will attend the plenary session on the 17th of September. Many analysts consider the involvement of the Italian Prime minister on forum, as a good sign of warming relations between the EU with Russia. Half a year ago Renzi stated that the sanctions against Moscow should be removed. So Italy is closer to the position of countries like Hungary, Cyprus, Greece and Slovakia, according to which, from the penalties suffer not only Russia but also the European countries. The forum will be attended by other senior officials such as the Vice Chancellor of Austria Reinhold Miterlener. Naturally, the economic part of the event is particularly important. Besides the hundreds of bosses from the largest Russian companies, present in St. Petersburg will also be around 200 chiefs from the largest foreign companies such as Siemens, Total, Glencore, Mitsubishi, Mitsui. The organizers have spared no expense, not least because of the fact that it is a twentieth anniversary edition of the forum.

Because of that, the three-day event will have a very rich cultural program. This is completely understandable, since St. Petersburg is famous not only for its imperial past, but also with its present as an important European cultural center. On Palace Square there will be a symphony concert of the Mariinsky Theatre, under the baton of world famous conductor Valery Gergiev. The Maestro was recently back in world news, because he conducted the concert in the Syrian city of Palmyra, shortly after it was liberated from Isis. This concert is dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Prokofiev, whose music will be performed against a background footage from the films of Sergei Eisenstein. We should also mention that at the forum will be screened very interesting movies. Viewers will be able to see the documentary-play creation “Rudolf Nureyev. Leap to freedom.” Nureyev, one of the brightest stars of the Soviet opera scene in 1961, decided not to return to the USSR and received political asylum in France. There will be another world-famous Russian immigrant to be honored during the cultural program at the economic forum in St. Petersburg. The poems, letters and memories of Joseph Brodsky will be read at a special evening. The musical accompaniment will consist of works by Astor Piazzolla and Charlie Chaplin.

With its economic, political and cultural program, the forum in St. Petersburg aims to show that regardless of the situation, it remains a unique event. Over the last decade this event has gained the reputation of a place where the key issues of our time are discussed, important not only to Russia but also to the whole world.

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