Moscow to spend 700 million to improve its image

Officials have decided to alter the image of Russia’s capital in the eyes of foreigners. With this aim, the government has supported the combined special program for the raising of international prestige and the formation of a positive image for the city of Moscow for 2007-2009. In the next three years, Moscow authorities are planning to spend over 700 million rubles (approximately 26 million dollars) on improving the reputation of the Russian capital. It has been decided to invest 450 million rubles (approximately 17 million dollars) from the budget in this project and a further 250 million rubles (approximately 9 million dollars) is hoped to be obtained from investors. The head of the government’s Department of International Relations for the city Georgi Muradov has explained why the capital needs to publicize itself abroad and what the money will be used for, writes Komsomolskaya Pravda.

As noted by the publication, the need to work on the city’s image comes from the striving to overcome negative approaches and tendencies in the perception of Moscow within the country and abroad. The final blow for Muradov was a rating in July which named Moscow as the most expensive city in the world. The Russian capital beat even such consistent leaders as London and Tokyo . But Muradov believes that the rating agency intentionally distorts or incorrectly compares information and damages Moscow’s reputation, putting off foreign businessmen and tourists.

A mass information campaign has been planned, using traditional media resources as well as internet technology. The aim is to promote Moscow as a favorable city for international collaboration and investment and to create a positive image in the press. According to officials, it is essential to reaffirm a representation of Moscow , in the consciousness of the masses, as a pilot megapolis that is successfully finding solutions the most complicated city problems.

The government believes that the realization of the three year program to increase international prestige in Moscow may lead to a 6-9% increase in foreign investment in the city’s economy. “In 2005, foreign investment in the city’s economy grew by 8% compared to the previous year, thanks to work on improving the international image of Moscow . We very much hope that the realization of an event with a program focusing on the increase of international prestige and the formation of a positive Moscow experience in 2007-2009 will lead to a 6-9% growth in direct investment in the economy of the capital,” said Muradov.

However, for now the official is not prepared to name concrete publishing houses, campaigns or advertising agencies which will take the money shared out for the improvement of Moscow ’s reputation. He has said that contests will take place for each area of work. But first of all, it seems, it is officials who will be doing the work. For example, 15 million rubles (about 560 thousand dollars) are to be allocated to the committee for the reformation of the city’s economy for the creation of a strategy for managing the city’s image. Another 6 million rubles (about 220 thousand dollars) will be invested in the promotion of articles about Moscow in foreign publications, notes Vremya Novostej.

Meanwhile, employees working on the program claim that these measures will, over time, not only bring Muscovites moral satisfaction, but also benefit them. Muradov has produced data from experts, which reveals that every euro invested in increasing the international prestige of the city will bring 10 euros in the form of direct foreign investment.

Officials intend to start from the internet. For example, Moscow does not even have its own portal yet. The domain name was acquired a few years ago by smarter people. “The domain name does not belong to the city at the moment. In the confusion of the mid-90s, we did not manage to make sure that this internet domain fell into our hands. It now belongs to a commercial structure and we are going to carry out negotiations to acquire it,” said Muradov.

In the event of buying the domain, officials intend to create a large English language portal with information on the Russian capital. “The capital does not yet have its own English language portal where all information interesting foreigners would be located. Many foreign colleagues tell me that via the internet address they reach the website of a small American town and are unable to find out information on the Russian capital by any means,” remarked Muradov.

In his opinion, Moscow authorities will need approximately one year to create an effective, high-quality internet portal in English.

Translated by Leila Wilmers

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Author`s name Alex Naumov