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Author`s name Michael Simpson

EXPO-2010: Triumph of Corruption - 4 December, 2002

Russia didn’t participate in backstage bargaining
Russia’s hopes to host the international exhibition EXPO-2010 weren’t justified; Russia dropped out of the voting during the third stage. The jury of the 132nd session of the general assembly of the International Exhibition Bureau held in Monaco decided that the international exhibition would be held, as it had been supposed, in Shanghai in 2010. China, which is currently the world leader regarding the volume of attracted investments and the rate of economic growth, proved to be an adequate candidate to host, not only the 2008 Olympic Games, but also the EXPO-2010 international exhibition.

However, members of the Russian delegation who participated in the voting in Monaco say that the battle for EXPO-2010 wasn’t in vain. Russia’s news agency RIA Novosti quotes Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov as saying that the time and resources Russia spent on the preparation for the international universal exhibition were not wasted at all.

Yury Luzhkov says: “The experience we gained in the exhibition business is the most important thing. Now, we know what we should do for the organization of international exhibitions in Moscow. We established close contacts with the International Exhibition Bureau and learned from the experiences of other countries in organization of exhibitions.”

What is the experience that Moscow gained during the struggle for EXPO-2010? Yury Luzhkov is sure that this is just the matter of “the great financial aid of China and South Korea.” “Wide-scale work was done; much spending was done to persuade and probably to awake the interest of those who voted for China to be the host of the international exhibition,” the Moscow mayor says.

Indeed, countries aiming to host the international exhibition organized special presentations; they were organized with a view to make different promises and preferences to members of the International Exhibition Bureau and prospective participants of EXPO-2010. For instance, China suggested that during the exhibition, developing countries should be exempt from the rent. Koreans promised to appropriate 170 million dollars to support all participants of the international exhibition. Due to this assignment, countries participating in EXPO-2010  also won’t have to pay the rent. The Koreans also promised free food for all members of the delegations participating in the exhibition.

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov tried to be generous as well (generosity is a traditional Russian virtue, which has slightly faded because of the economic reforms in the country). Nevertheless, Luzhkov promised that none of the participants would have to pay for rent, and that all communications would be installed in the exhibition pavilions for free. Which, by the way, is a considerable concession for Moscow, where prices are almost on the same level with  world prices. Probably, the Moscow mayor wasn’t convincing enough with guarantees of security to participants of the exhibition. After the hostage taking crisis in the Moscow theatre, where Russia’s most popular musical Nord Ost was staged, the problem of security is of a top priority. To tell the truth,  after numerous terrorist attacks in different countries of the world, none of the cities of the world can guarantee 100% security.

As the saying goes, this was just the right side of the bargaining for the right to host the international exhibition. According to Russia’s business weekly Kommersant, backstage bargaining with extremely high rates had been held for the past two years. It is rumored that China offered preferential terms to Germans for to build a  Beijing – Shanghai road. Germany, correspondingly, radically corrected its positions concerning the problem. Korea realized very quickly that no less than one-third of the International Exhibition Bureau members were developing countries and promised  lavish investments in the economies of these countries. Certainly, that was offered in exchange for support during the voting. So, in point of fact, the very process of bargaining resembled the very corruption high ranking officials from developed countries and international organizations like to accuse Russian officials of. As was once again proved  with EXPO-2010, Russians need to learn much and hard to achieve the level of corruption prospering on the international scene.     

According to Kommersant, Russia didn’t participate in “the backstage contest.” A member of the Russian delegation who requested anonymity said: “None of the officials in charge of EXPO-2010 discussed possibilities of investments with the member countries of the International Exhibition Bureau.Russia’s Vice-Premier for Social Policy Valentina Matvienko started dealing with the problem too late. If she worked on the problem of EXPO-2010 in Russia from the very beginning, our position in the contest would have been stronger.”
 
In addition, Russia, China, South Korea, Mexico, and Poland also aimed to host EXPO-2010. Before the results of the voting were announced, Valentina Matvienko said that China was the main rival in the contest, while South Korea followed second. That was exactly the result of the voting.

Kira Poznakhirko
PRAVDA.Ru

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