Russia Celebrates Itself While Taking Digs at West

Expo precedes election in which Putin could seek another term
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 4, 2023 12:50 PM CDT
Russia Celebrates Itself While Taking Digs at West
Visitors walk through a display of the "Achievements of Russia" on Saturday in Moscow.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

With pointed disdain for the West, Russia on Saturday unveiled a sprawling exposition highlighting the nation's accomplishments, which will run through the months leading to the presidential election in which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to seek a new term. Putin issued a decree in March to hold the exposition, the AP reports, and some observers have seen it as aimed at creating an ideological framework for his reelection. News reports had suggested he might use the opening to announce his candidacy for the March election, but his spokesman later said he would not attend the event.

The event is held at VDNKh, the vast exposition grounds in northern Moscow that was established by Josef Stalin and is renowned for its collection of elaborate Soviet Gothic-style pavilions. The setting plays to many Russians' nostalgia for the Soviet era and echoes Putin's drive to restore Russia as a superpower. Thematically, the exposition focuses on Russia as a country of diverse ethnic groups and cultures unified by a sense of national purpose. It includes displays from each of Russia's regions, as well as from the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed, along with an array of presentations on industry, education, and technology will be on offer. It also draws on the view of Russia being in a civilizational battle, a concept in the forefront of official discourse since Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022.

"Any provocations and aggressive actions directed against Russia are doomed to failure. Because we are a single people, bound by a common history, fraternal bonds of friendship and mutual understanding," Putin said in a message marking the opening of the exposition, per the AP. In a speech at opening day, Putin ally Nikolai Patrushev, head of the national security council, amplified the idea. "In contrast to the West, Russia has offered a civilizational choice based on preserving national sovereignty, mutual respect, equal partnership, traditional family values, protection of religious foundations and the rights of believers, as well as generally accepted norms of morality, ethics, and social behavior," he said. Putin has led Russia as president or prime minister since 2000, and reelection would extend his term until 2030.

(More Russia stories.)

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