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U.S. State Department Cracks Putin 'Only Tourist in Crimea'

Published: August 17, 2014 (Issue # 1824)



  • U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf.
    Photo: Twitter

A wisecrack from U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman saying President Vladimir Putin is the only tourist to have visited Crimea this year conflicts with reports of millions of Russian tourists traveling to the Black Sea resort.

Asked during a daily briefing what she thought about Putin's visit to Crimea earlier this week, Marie Harf replied: "From what I hear, he's the only tourist that's actually gone there this summer."

Harf said she had been waiting to use the line ever since the start of the meeting, according to a transcript of her comments on the State Department website.

She then added, on a more serious note, that Crimea's "tourism industry has completely plummeted since the Russian invasion."

"Their economy is faltering because of it, which is a huge burden, actually, on Russia, who has annexed it," Harf said.

Her comments overlook reports of about 2 million people traveling to Crimea this year, according to the coastal peninsula's Tourism and Resorts Ministry, cited by Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily. The ministry said it expected the figure to reach 3 million by the end of the year.

The report has not been independently confirmed.

Last year, tourist inflow into Crimea — known for its warm sea temperatures and cheap prices, but shunned by some for its notoriously subpar Soviet customer service — stood at 5.9 million, the ministry said in late December, Segodnya.ua reported.

Russians made up about a third of last year's vacationers in Crimea, the remainder being accounted for by Ukrainians — most of whom have stayed clear of the region after Russia annexed it in March following a hasty referendum held under Russian supervision.

Crimea is not connected by land to Russia and is only accessible by plane or ferry. Some 2,300 vehicles were queuing up for the ferry as of Friday, constituting a 30-hour wait for those wanting to make the crossing, RIA Novosti reported.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaac’s Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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