Blog: New Normal becomes New Reality in BRIC parlance
Simon Warburton | 15 June 2016
Calm before the storm - SPIEF 16 readies itself for this week's multitude of conferences
Russia or more specifically, St Petersburg, is hosting its 16th International Economic Forum here in its mighty second city and it's a continued show of defiance against a West, which is equally stubborn in its insistence of maintaining a frosty disapproval of The Kremlin's Crimea and possibly Eastern Ukraine involvement.
The circus has moved this time though from its former Lenexpo home on the seafront and overlooking one of the stadia being built for the 2018 World Cup, to the vast new complex of ExpoForum Convention Centre, much further out of St Petersburg, which I can just see looming up in the far distance.
So far out in fact, it's just taken a good hour to reach here by taxi. Given the level of massive security surrounding the place, I'm going to get here bright and bushy tailed tomorrow morning to try and avoid the crush of limos, not mine, delivering high-powered CEOs and their entourages to the conference gates.
Writing this in the huge press centre at ExpoForum, the facilities are undoubtedly better than last year, but I can't help missing the genuine character of the old Lenexpo. It's gigantic, scattered buildings were straight out of Soviet central casting and it didn't take an hour of a madly swerving taxi, to reach it.
The cast list for this year is as broad and eclectic as ever. From the auto side, I'm, hopefully seeing AvtoVAZ tomorrow, as well as GAZ Group, whose owner and multi-billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, is here, while former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and SPIEF stalwart, Peter Mandelson, are also addressing sessions.
United Nations president, Ban Ki-moon is also speaking, as is European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, which, given a certain referendum, finally, taking place next week in the UK, could be interesting, while a sprinkling of former Prime Ministers and Russian Foreign Secretary, Sergey Lavrov, complete the line-up.
For the third year running, I've tried to gain access to President Vladimir Putin's Plenary Session closing address, but completing my hat-trick, I've been told my name's not on the list.
Despite going through the bureaucratic accreditation procedure for it, maybe Britain continues not to be flavour of the month, perhaps highlighted by the Russia-United Kingdom conference scheduled, which modestly highlights "political differences on some fronts."
Fourth time lucky?
Addendum: My colleagues will be aware of my less than, er, stellar skills when it comes to IT, so trying to make sense of a Russian keyboard has been somewhat challenging, but staff here have helpfully changed the script from Cyrillic to Roman.
That didn't help however, when trying to save an image from my phone to the desktop, but a lot of lucky guesswork later and I think I've managed to squeeze it in.
Addendum 2: With China's 'New Normal,' Russia as a fellow BRIC, seems keen not to lose out and so has apparently adopted 'New Reality' as a theme for the week.
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