On June 14, the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) started, which will last until the 17th. Despite the fact that after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, world leaders refused to attend the event, they continue to call it "international", and also promise the presence of "high-ranking officials from more than 15 countries", which will include the presidents of Algeria and Armenia, the prime minister of Cuba, and the leader South Ossetia ( after the introduction of troops, Russia recognizes its "independence", Georgia considers this territory occupied ). At the same time, on the first day, not a single president appeared at SPIEF, but officials from the territories of Ukraine occupied by Russia and stands of the “annexed” regions with Rossiysky cheese were lit up. Also, SPIEF participants were shown Russian drones from AliExpress and robots, which actually turned out to be animators in costumes. There was also information in the media about escorts, who traditionally take part in the forum for more than a year. Read more about the first day of SPIEF in The Insider review.
Dance of the delegation from the UAE
For the first time at SPIEF, representatives of the delegation from the UAE decided to perform a national dance. Dates and sweets were distributed to the guests and organizers of the forum as a sign of respect.
Dmitry Orlov, director general of the Agency for Political and Economic Communications (APEC), said that the Kremlin is emphasizing "alternative areas of foreign economic activity" this year. Among such areas that may appear within the current forum is work with Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, Orlov notes. Separately, he stressed that the UAE is among the guest countries of the forum this year.
At SPIEF, you can also see the stands of the regions annexed by Russia. Thus, the Zaporizhia region offers Russian cheese and cherries, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the annexed region Radik Isiakayev personally distributes boxes with Melitopol Cherry, “grown in Russia”. At the same time, the tables of the Kherson region, the "DPR" and "LPR" stand with information booklets.
The Russian-appointed "acting governor" of the Kherson region Vladimir Saldo appeared at the forum and devoted his speech to the catastrophe at the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station. A video with him is published by the Telegram channel of Ksenia Sobchak "Bloody Lady". On the economic form, he also decided to tell reporters about the "Russian warriors."
“They really understood that they would not stop the ongoing events. They don't care about people at all. On those whom they call their own, on ours. All they did was they tried to give us a gift by June 12, so they started to act. The counteroffensive came to naught, pay attention. The Kakhovskaya HPP was destroyed precisely by June 12. We accepted the gift, now we will develop even faster. You can't do that with a Russian soldier, with a Russian warrior, with Russian weapons. It's one thing when, of course, we left Kherson for strategic purposes, it was a strategy, we could not leave it. There is order in the army. Like, dislike, there is an order. Yes, I didn't want to leave. But there was an order. But now we are resisting."
In addition, Saldo told Izvestia that an emergency mode was introduced throughout the Kherson region, and not just in flooded settlements.
The Russian side claims that the hydroelectric dam collapsed after a series of artillery strikes from the Armed Forces of Ukraine. According to Ukrainian intelligence, the station was blown up by the Russian army, Zelensky's adviser Mikhail Podolyak said earlier. OSINT researchers suggested that the destruction of the dam began before its breakthrough on June 6 and the cause of the disaster was the damage received earlier and the improper operation of the hydroelectric power plant by the Russian administration.
"Isolation of Russia"
Officials paid active attention to the discussion of the Bloomberg article on the forum. The agency previously reported in its material that before the start of the war in Ukraine, SPIEF was an international event, however, the list of participants in SPIEF-2023 demonstrates the “increasing isolation of Russia.”
According to the program of the event, the organizers hardly managed to attract major political figures, even some leaders of the CIS countries preferred to stay away. The forum was attended mainly by officials from countries that have remained neutral in relation to the war in Ukraine.
According to journalists of the agency, Russia has to rebuild its economic relations under the pressure of unprecedented sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. At the same time, even many of the Russian tycoons were afraid to appear at SPIEF in 2022 due to the imposed international sanctions. On the SPIEF website, the organizers reminded foreign forum participants of the need to bring cash dollars or euros to St. Petersburg, as the sanctions mean that they will not be able to use their bank cards.
The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, commented on the Bloomberg article on the isolation of Russia to Izvestia correspondent Alexei Lazurenko. According to Zakharova, Bloomberg has long ceased to be what Michael Bloomberg “invested in when he organized this agency.”
State Duma deputy Svetlana Zhurova, who was also present at the forum, did not bypass this topic. She said that those people who come "friendly" continue to communicate and interact with the Russian Federation - "they do not care about Bloomberg and everyone else," she told Izvestia.
Deputy Prime Minister Novak, a permanent participant of SPIEF, did not come to the forum this year due to illness, his representative told RIA Novosti.
"Don't Overwhelm Us"
At the Tambov stand, the SPIEF was reminded not only of the composer Sergei Rachmaninov, a native of the region. Representatives of the stand exhibited a roly-poly doll, whose birthplace is Tambov, they just depicted on it one of the symbols of the war in Ukraine, used by propaganda - “Z”.
On the first day, a large number of robots appeared at SPIEF, which, according to the organizers, should demonstrate a “technological breakthrough”. However, the growth robots turned out to be animators in plastic suits. They imitated the movements of cars while moving, journalist Ilya Shepelin drew attention to the RIA Novosti story:
In addition to fake robots, there was a HyperDog robotic dog at the exhibition, it was shown by the team of the Skoltech Intelligent Space Robotics Laboratory.
According to Fontanka, the SPIEF is discussing the replacement of last year's Dunyasha. In 2022, the governor of the Perm Territory, Dmitry Makhonin, presented the Dunyasha service robot at SPIEF, which then became the subject of discussion in social networks and the media. The humanoid android was selling ice cream and coffee:
This year, a new ice cream robot puts ice cream into cups and sends it to guests on a miniature of the new Moscow metro car.
Several Russian media even before the start of SPIEF published materials that escorts were going to take part in the St. Petersburg forum. Novye Izvestia wrote that in 2023, a special hashtag #SPIEF2023 appeared on a thematic website with girls' profiles. It is used in the profiles of girls who are ready to work at the event; in total, journalists found about a hundred such forms. Telegram channels with escorts, according to the publication, also published screenshots from private chats where girls are offered jobs during the forum.
Separately, the material says that it is difficult to enter the building where SPIEF is being held without an invitation. Visitors are registered and checked in advance, and there are restricted areas inside the expo center. You can buy a ticket as an individual entrepreneur for 1.2 million rubles, but the girls are included in the staff of specialized agencies, which then take away part of their profits, the publication claims. The girls also try to get into private parties.
In 2021, SPIEF also had a scandal on this topic. TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak filmed the guests and drew attention to the girls, asking one of them: “Which panel did you come to?”. Later it turned out that the girl is a lawyer, she went to court demanding that the fragment with her participation be removed from the Sobchak film about “VIP hunters”. The journalist claimed that there were no insults in the video, and there were indeed panels at SPIEF, so only commentators had allusions. “I am now also going to the panels. Here everyone walks on different panels. This is a good word, ”Sobchak commented then. As a result, the court refused the lawyer.
Russian drones were presented at SPIEF, photos of which were published by RBC.
Layout journalists drew attention to the fact that SPIEF showed a new Patriot K30T drone among the UAVs, but almost identical drones are sold by the Chinese company Autel Robotics. The video with the drone was published by the propaganda Telegram channel Readovka, noting that it was intended “for the Russian army.”
In the Chinese company's device catalog, there is an EVO II Pro V3 drone, the body of which is completely identical to the K30T - both devices have characteristic front and side sensors and radiator holes.
The drones differ only in the cameras installed on them, but the cameras of both have the same 16x zoom, the same working time of 40 minutes, and a communication range of 15 km. On Amazon, the EVO II Pro V3 drone kit costs $2,500. On AliExpress, a discounted drone costs more than 172 thousand rubles. Journalists note that the price of Patriot K30T with SPIEF is still unknown.
The Insider previously wrote how the anniversary SPIEF in 2022 drew a line under the transformation of the event. For a quarter of a century, an attempt to create a platform for the exchange of views and informal meetings between businessmen and politicians has grown into a strange mixture of a meeting of a party activist and a session of collective psychotherapy. The participation of the Taliban and the leadership of the republics of Donbass only highlighted the decorative nature of the forum, but the end was put on it a long time ago. "Russian Davos" from the hope of domestic capitalism has turned into a theater of one actor with decorative admiration of the audience subordinate to him. About the degradation of the main exhibition site of the country - in the material of The Insider.