Thursday, May 22, 2008

from russia, with love--again.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

We've discussed the Champions League final ad nauseum, and I can't guarantee we won't cover it again, but we haven't discussed the city that hosted this year's final--Moscow.
Now officially the largest city in Europe (well, I guess determining what Europe is exactly is relative), Moscow was not able to handle all of the visas that fans were going to want to come into the country to watch the game. The finalists happened to both be English teams--and England and Russia aren't exactly on speaking terms. Fans were told to stay away from the nation because they wouldn't be allowed in if they didn't have a visa, even though Russia admitted that it couldn't handle the number of fans that were coming.

So, why exactly was the city allowed to host the final if it wasn't going to be able to process the visas of the supporters? Shouldn't one of the main planning issues been "well, can we get everyone into the city?"
Additionally, the city did not have enough hotel rooms. Fans were told not to come if they did not have somewhere to stay. Some people flew into Belarus and Slovakia and drove into Moscow--not a fun trek. Many stayed on party boats converted to house fans. And the traditional pre-game match for British fans of fish and chips? It cost 50 GBP. Yes. One hundred dollars.

Finally, though, the Kremlin relented and allowed groups of "special people" to enter the county
visa free. And, yes, soccer fans were included. "We have acted like a civilized state," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said of the temporary visa-free regime. "The attitude of a country towards the conditions on which participants in international events may visit it shows how civilized it is.

What a great quote. "We have acted like a civilized state"--it's like admitting you deny freedoms and human rights. "I have acted like a respectable human being" will soon be the new catchphrase of men hitting on women at bars.

And, lastly, the Russian military will be getting a makeover. No, they're not getting new commanders--they're actually getting new uniforms.

Quite an interesting read, actually--and the best part is this quote:
"Thank God the army now understands that image is just as important as technical issues," Valentin Yudashkin says. Yes. Form over function--spoken like a true clothing designer.