PanaTimes

Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023

Russia Begins Its Flagship Economic Forum Despite Pandemic

Russia Begins Its Flagship Economic Forum Despite Pandemic

The Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), which was cancelled last year, is Russia's main showcase for investors.
A flagship economic forum has returned to Saint Petersburg, with Russia aiming to signal it has moved beyond the coronavirus pandemic and is open for business despite political tensions.

The Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), often dubbed the Russian Davos, officially starts on Thursday and is the country's main showcase for investors, attracting political and business leaders from around the world.

It has been hosted every year since 1997 -- cancelled only in 2020 due to the pandemic -- in the hometown of President Vladimir Putin, who is expected to speak at the forum in person on Friday.

"The forum is very important for the image of the city, the restoration of the economy's growth and the revival of tourism," Saint Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov told the RIA Novosti news agency.

The scale of the forum will be smaller than previous years, with the number of participants capped at 5,000. In comparison, the 2019 SPIEF was attended by over 19,000 people from 145 countries, according to organisers.

At the forum previously attended by leaders of China, France and India, Putin will be joined via video link by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, which has sent one of the biggest delegations this year.

The reduced attendance also comes after a turbulent year for Russian diplomacy, as relations with the West -- which have been deteriorating since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 -- reached a new low following the poisoning and imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

But Russian officials now say that "bad politics should not be allowed to interfere with good business", said Chris Weafer, analyst and founder of Macro-Advisory consultancy firm.

According to Weafer, one of the messages at this year's SPIEF is that "Russia has turned a corner and has learned from the last seven years" characterised by low oil prices and sanctions.

Handshakes, no masks

The forum comes almost a year after Russia lifted its strict lockdown that was imposed last spring when the coronavirus swept across the country.

Since late summer most virus restrictions have been lifted with authorities opting to protect the economy and pin hopes on Russia's Sputnik V jab that was registered in August.

The country still continues to record an average of 9,000 new infections every day.

To ensure virus safety at the forum, all participants this year are required to test negative for the coronavirus before they enter the site. Inside, masks are required at all times.

Julius Bakazarov, a 19-year-old forum volunteer, told AFP that participants "never ignore requests" to wear masks or observe other measures.

But the reality is different, with few people wearing face coverings, handshakes among participants and large crowds gathering at the forum venues, an AFP journalist reported.

Saint Petersburg, Russia's second largest city, has struggled to contain the spread of the virus, especially after a boom in domestic tourism made the former capital a popular travel destination.

Just days after the forum, the city will also host several matches of the postponed Euro 2020 football tournament that will bring together thousands of fans, both from Russia and abroad.

SPIEF volunteer Yekaterina Bolkhovskaya, who lives in Saint Petersburg, said holding an event such as the economic forum can only have a "positive effect".

"This will remind people that if they want to participate in big events then they need to... observe the rules of personal hygiene and safety," the 19-year-old said.
Newsletter

Related Articles

PanaTimes
Close
0:00
0:00
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will block Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman.
Yellen hints at ‘national security’ probe into Twitter purchase
Elon Musk reinstates Donald Trump's Twitter account.
Good news: US moves to shield Saudi crown prince in journalist killing
×