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Ufa: Soviet Cafeterias and IKEA Furniture

Published: October 19, 2011 (Issue # 1679)



  • Attracting investors to Ufa is a priority for Bashkortostan, whose finances were supported by its oil-refining and mining industries before tax law changes.
    Photo: FOR SPT

  • The striking Lya Lya Tyulipan mosque.
    Photo: FOR SPT

  • Eat at Akbuzat restaurant while watching races at Ufas hippodrome.
    Photo: FOR SPT

  • Many Ufa men wear black workers hats, popular in the Soviet Union.
    Photo: KHRISTINA NARIZHNAYA / SPT

  • The 10-meter-high Yulayev statue.
    Photo: FOR SPT

UFA Ufa is best seen fromthe window ofa landing airplane inthe early fall. Theconcrete center is surrounded bymulti-colored cottage roofs sprinkled onrolling hills, covered inyellow, green, orange andred trees, cut byrivers andlakes as still as glass.

Despite being amanufacturing andoil-refining center, thecapital ofBashkortostan has some ofthe best-preserved nature inRussia. Nearby are hundreds ofkilometers ofvirgin forest andmountains where some ofthe worlds finest honey is produced bywild honeybees.

Not surprisingly, customs fromthe long-gone Soviet era remain preserved along with thepristine nature. Government officials serve inan imposing white block ofa building with endless hallways ofcreaking lacquered parquet floors covered inred carpets. They dine ata real Soviet cafeteria, with white cloth-covered tables andtraditional Russian food.

Journalists andother visitors ofthe government a reporter for The Moscow Times, the sister newspaper of The St. Petersburg Times, visited Ufa ona government-organized press tour are accompanied bya member ofthe government atall times andare told not tomeet with anyone or go anywhere alone. Themain hotel forout-of-towners is located far fromthe city center, ina wooded area near ariver.

Themajority ofthe Ufa men wear black workers hats, wildly popular inthe U.S.S.R. andubiquitously worn byformer Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov.

But modernity is starting tocreep intothe republic. Swedish furniture giant IKEA opened its first store inthe republic inAugust. French supermarket chain Auchan opened its first Bashkortostan location earlier this month.

Since President Dmitry Medvedev appointed atop RosHydro manager, Rustem Khamitov, as Bashkortostans president in2009, great strides have been taken tomodernize therepublic. Attracting investors became apriority toreplenish therepublics budget, which had been supported byrevenue fromits oil-refining andmining industries prior tochanges infederal tax law during themid-2000s.

Therepublics government, previously closed tooutsiders politically andfinancially, has set up adevelopment corporation tohelp investors realize their local projects.

Traveling businessmen fromother regions said thebusiness climate has grown more open since therepublics former president, Murtaza Rakhimov, who held thepost fornearly 20 years, was replaced.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 1


Bikers from all around the world will gather to take part in a parade, extreme shows and rock concerts during the International Biker Festival that revs its engines today and runs through Aug. 3 near Olgino Hotel, 4/2 Primorskogo Shosse.


The Peter and Paul Fortress will be turned into an open-air cinema today and tomorrow as part of the 5th International Short and Animation Film Festival. A huge screen across the fortress walls will air short films non-stop with board games, photo sessions and other activities also on offer for visitors. For more information, visit www.opencinemafest.ru



Saturday, Aug. 2


Gatchina Palace Park Museum will host its second annual Night of Light, an impressive audio-visual show across the night sky. Tickets are 600 rubles ($16).


If graphic design is more your thing then check out Illustration Day, where you will be able to visit an exhibition, attend lectures by professionals and even show experts some of your own work. The event starts at noon at Zona Deystvia, 73 Ligovsky Prospekt. The entrance fee is 350 rubles ($10).



Sunday, Aug. 3


History lovers shouldnt miss the chance to see reenactments of World War I battles in Pushkin at noon. Besides exciting war scenes, visitors can enjoy live music, historical costumes, an equestrian show and a fancy-dress parade starting from the Moscow gates.


Garage Sale, the popular and growing flea market where nothing is priced over 500 rubles ($14.11), starts today at noon in Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt. Be sure to get in early to score a bargain. Entry costs 50 rubles ($1.40)



Monday, Aug. 4


Continue the working week with a calm and steady mind with a free yoga lesson at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoyed store at 23A Vladimirsky Prospekt.



Tuesday, Aug. 5


Visit The Romanov Dynasty doll exhibition today, where more than fifty porcelain dolls depicting Russian rulers, and made by Olina Ventzel, will be on show. The exhibition continues through Aug. 31 in Sheremetyev Palace, 34 Fontanka Naberezhnaya.



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