by Olivia Kroth
Russia's easternmost city, Vladivostok, on the beautiful Golden Horn Bay, is coming into focus these days with the opening of the 24th APEC summit which will take place from the 2nd to 9th September 2012 in the Russian Far East. Vladivostok has seen many delegations come and go during its long history since it was settled during the Qing Dynasty.
Vladivostok, a very old city, has seen many delegations come and go in the course of its long history. It was settled by the Chinese during the Qing Dynasty. The Russians took over in the 19th century and built an elaborate system of fortifications around the place in the 1870s. In 1880, it was granted town status, and in 1883, it received its coat of arms showing a Siberian tiger.
The first Russian secondary school opened in 1889. With the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway, from Moscow to Vladivostok, the city's economy witnessed an enormous boost. During Soviet times, the city was the main naval base of the Soviet Pacific Fleet and remained closed to foreigners for security reasons.
During recent years, Vladivostok has undergone great changes to get ready for the APEC summit on Russky Island. The new campus of the Far Eastern Federal University was completed and a new opera house constructed. Resorts, dinner and entertainment facilities were built, the International Airport was renovated and upgraded, but most spectacular of all is the new cable-stayed bridge which spans across the Eastern Bosporus Strait, connecting the Nazimov Peninsula with Russky Island.
The bridge was completed just in time and opened for traffic on the 1st of August this year. It is the world's largest cable-stayed bridge with a length of 3.100 meters and a width of almost 30 meters. The longest span measures 1.100 meters. The construction was tested for severe climate conditions, typical for Russia's Far East: temperatures from minus 30 to plus 35 degrees, storm wind velocity up to 36 m/s, storm wave height up to 6 meters and ice formation in winter up to 70 centimeters thick.
The shape of the span cross-sections was determined based on aerodynamic design. The cable-stayed system assumes all static and dynamic loads. Cable stays have the best possible protection from natural disasters and other adverse impacts.
Vladivostok's Mayor, Igor Pushkaryov, said with pride, "I regard this bridge as a symbol of the new Russia. At present, so-called technical tourism is coming into fashion." People want to test the Golden Horn Bridge as one of the new seven wonders of the world.
A powerful hydro-meteorological satellite service has been launched for the APEC summit. The website "APEC - 2012 Weather, Climate, Ecology" publishes weather forecasts for Vladivostok, Russky Island, the Eastern Bosporus Strait and Peter the Great Bay.
The city issued a commemorative postage stamp depicting the new cable-stayed bridge with the APEC emblem and the inscription "Asia Pacific Cooperation Summit Vladivostok." The city authorities also created commemorative envelopes and postcards showing the main sights of the city.
The summit gets very tight security to discourage potential terrorists of being tempted to operate there. The reliability of the security measures are checked regularly. The Russian Federal Security Service Director, Alexander Bortnikov, said: "We have developed algorithms for prompt reactions to terrorist threats. There is maximum concentration of efforts."
Special attention is given to the protection of objects with a high level of technological danger, to transport infrastructure and to public places. On duty are 10.000 police officers and thousands of special service men for the APEC summit.
Furthermore, the Russian Federation is deploying a regiment of its new generation S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems near Vladivostok, in the city of Nakhoda. The S-400 regiment provides air safety for the summit and will remain stationed in the Russian Far East on a permanent basis.
A naval squadron of the Russian Pacific Fleet is heading to Vladivostok as well: the antisubmarine ship "Admiral Panteleev," the fuel tanker "Boris Butoma" and the rescue ship "Fotiy Krylov."
To help the 7.000 participants during the APEC summit, 2.000 staff have been employed . Young volunteers from Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Chita, Astrakhan, Chelyabinsk, Blagoveshchensk, Khabarov and other cities have come to Vladivostok, where they will assist media accreditation, provide badges to summit participants, accompany Russian and foreign delegations, help organize cultural events, translate, guide sightseeing tours and work at the International Airport of Vladivostok.
A cultural highlight is the "Week of Music APEC - 2012." Old and young music stars have gathered to entertain the guests. Among the oldest and most prominent are the grannies from Buranovo in the Republic of Udmurtia. The "Buranovskiye Babushki" are an amateur group of female folklore singers who won \second place in this year's Eurovision contest.
Ekaterina Shklyaeva, a soloist of the ensemble, commented, "We are ordinary grandmothers. After the concerts, we take off our costumes, change into working clothes and go to the vegetable garden. We continue to live as we did before."
The APEC week will end with great, festive fireworks over Vladivostok and Russky Island on the 9th of September.
Meanwhile, the Russian Government is hoping for economic and political success at the APEC gathering, which should give a boost to the Russian Far East and increase its importance as a transit region.
APEC consumer spending power is expected to double by 2021. Trade between APEC countries is set to triple until then. Russia and China will certainly be among the APEC countries profiting from this trend.
The Chinese leader, Hu Jintao, and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, will be present in Vladivostok from the 6th to the 9th of September to discuss economic and political topics.
Russia and China are not only APEC members, they also form the core of SCO, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China show the strong will of cooperating closely in a wide range of matters, from economy and trade to regional and global politics, as well as common defense.
Russia and China are building up a network of defense facilities in their stronghold, the Asian Pacific region. Seen in this light, the APEC summit in Vladivostok is of great importance for both nations. Mr. Jintao and Mr. Putin will certainly discuss developments in Syria, too. World peace may depend on the outcome of their talks.
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