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Russian Mega Projects

Published: May 23, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Expected to cost $20 billion, the 2018 World Cup will see matches played in stadiums such as Kazan Arena.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Russia has a history of attempting to use vast infrastructure mega-projects to boost its economy. The

St. Petersburg Times looked at some past, present and future highlights of Russias propensity to dream big.

Past

Winter Olympics, Sochi, 2014

Price tag: $51 billion

A matter of national pride and a great image booster, the Sochi Olympics were as smooth as could be sports-wise but less so financially. Whistleblowers spoke of embezzlement reaching up to 50 percent of the Games budget, though officials denied such claims. Three months after the Games, neither businesses nor the state have much use for the Olympic venues, and local administration and hoteliers admitted the city will struggle to make full use of the infrastructure constructed for the event. Ironically, Russias public relations gains were almost immediately nullified by Russias meddling in Ukraines political crisis, while the newly annexed Crimean peninsula will now compete with Sochi for tourists and state support.

Present

World Cup, 2018

Where: 12 Russian cities.

Price tag: $20 billion

The football fiesta is a step up from previous sporting mega-projects in Russia, which were concentrated around a single location. Twelve Russian cities will host World Cup matches in 2018. The building spree could do a lot for the transportation and hotel industries, but mega-projects have a tendency to exceed the initial price tag Sochi was originally billed at $12 billion, implying that World Cup costs could spiral as high as $80 billion. Brazilians actually rioted recently against the high costs of hosting the 2014 World Cup, and it remains to be seen whether Russians would be more enthusiastic about the sport than football-mad Brazil.

Future

Nuclear Power Plant

Where: Hanhikivi, Finland.

Completion date: 2024.

Price tag: $8.4 billion

The most expensive item on the list of seven mega-projects currently being considered for financing from Russias oil-revenue funded piggy-bank, the National Welfare Fund, the plan would see Russias state-run Rosatom corporation build a nuclear power plant in Finland, an energy-strapped nation that was the first in the world to commission a new nuclear plant after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. The payback period for Rosatom is estimated at about 20 years.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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