It is rather pleasant to walk and drive about St.Petersburg now. First of all, you can notice immaculately clean streets and buildings. Central streets and avenues are washed three times a day. Secondly, it has become green even in those streets where there was no vegetation before. Now there are green lawns, beautiful flowerbeds and flowerpots. Finally, there are no traffic jams. All that seemed unimaginable only a week ago. Police officers dressed in white shirts say that the number of cars has dramatically decreased in the city because of the holiday season. But that is true only to a certain extent. Many enterprises made their employees go on vacation ahead of schedule. In addition, many universities and colleges had to move exam dates from July to June so that students could all be free in July.
St.Petersburg has become a whole new city on the threshold of the Group of Eight summit. Taking a walk in the city has become absolutely safe even in the middle of the night. The police patrol all neighborhoods 24/7. Over 5,000 police officers from other towns arrived in St.Petersburg shortly before the summit to help their colleagues establish the reign of law and order in the city. The number of petty crimes has decreased by one-third, whereas the quantity of severe crimes has dropped by 50 percent. No one has been murdered in St.Petersburg during this week.
St.Petersburg has turned into a city of dreams. You can leave your apartment at 3 a.m., ask a police officer the way to the nearest library and receive a very kind and detailed answer. All the officers have been given brochures of the city’s maps, metro system, addresses of most important monuments, museums, etc. To crown it all, the officers, who came to St.Pete from other towns, have finished special course of St.Petersburg history and passed exams on the basic knowledge of English, German, French languages and even speech standards.
The city has become unrecognizable, even the people have become more beautiful. They say that there was a special decree issued by governor Valentina Matvienko. It has become much more interesting to live in the city. Every day brings very curious news. Navigation on the Neva River has been shut down; the bridges across the river will not be lifted for a week. However, Europe’s biggest musical fountain that was installed in St.Petersburg in May stays on almost all the time.
The Gulf of Finland has become the guardian platform for the city: naval vessels carefully watch the air, the land and the sea ready to show resistance to a potential enemy.
The key events will take place in St.Petersburg nearest suburb, Strelna. All official meetings will be held at the Konstantinovsky Palace. It used to be a godforsaken place only five years ago. Nowadays it has become a piece of paradise on Earth: the roads, the lawns, the buildings and fences are strikingly immaculate in Strelna now. The settlement is apparently inhabited by extremely taciturn people too: “We can’t tell you anything, it is a state secret,” this is a typical phrase that they use in their “conversations” with journalists.
All 800 residents of the settlements, including children, have received special passes for the time of the G8 summit. The authorities kindly asked the people not to invite any guests. There were no scandals in the town: the people treated the official requests with understanding.
The results of the recent opinion poll conducted in the countries of the Group of Eight showed that 86 percent of Russians know where the summit is going to be held. Twenty-five percent of US citizens said that they heard nothing about it. Four percent of British nationals know about the summit, but they have no idea of the hosting city. The majority of the polled people said that the issues of terrorism and dangerous infectious diseases should be put on top of the summit agenda.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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