Everything is ready for the opening of the Russia-Africa Summit at Expoforum St. Petersburg


On July 25, at the Expoforum in St. Petersburg, everything was ready for the opening of the Russia-Africa summit and the forum of the same name. Special Correspondent “Kommersant” Andrey Kolesnikov checked this readiness. And something impressed him.

I was not at all surprised when I learned that the African Women’s Forum was held in Moscow. After all, in St. Petersburg, the men’s one is about to begin, with the participation of Vladimir Putin. Of course, the husbands flew to Moscow, left their wives, and they themselves went to St. Petersburg, further on a business trip. No, it’s all clear.

The Corinthia Hotel is hosting a meeting of the Valdai Club for the second day. Discussions, says co-chair Andrey Bystritsky, do not cease.

– And what, – he honestly says in the hotel lobby, where I come to do a PCR test in an accredited medical center, – cool! It still needs to be figured out who is interested in whom: we are them or they are us. Who are we for them, Africans? I think it’s a kind of reserve currency.

– So they are insured by us? I try to understand.

— Yes, for balance we suit them. They are cool too! And we are looking forward to more!

The hotel is full of Africans. They come to take a PCR test – and don’t leave. That is, if there is one African in the queue, know that there will still be three, and when three are almost gone, six more will definitely come up. This line is destined for you forever.

I must say, there are many Africans in the city. Forum “Russia – Africa” ​​threatens to overshadow the SPIEF (St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.— “b”). By the level of nervousness in the city – certainly.

The festival of youth and students is something simple. Already, just in case, the streets are blocked, a special traffic regime is on the outskirts of the Expoforum, where Africans have their own stands. Now, unlike SPIEF, you can’t take a taxi directly to the checkpoints (checkpoints) for pedestrian participants: cars without accreditation are stopped far from Expoforum, and then, in theory, shuttles should go. And maybe it’s better not to even start: I mean your own cars.

This is due to the fact that, as the organizers explained to me, Expoforum hosts not only a forum, but also a summit (and vice versa). It would seem that it is all the more worth organizing a stop for a taxi, but no, and it is better not to think why it is so, and not otherwise: it is, I want to believe, it is about safety, and one is somehow connected with the other and will not be different, and that’s it.

On July 25, at 3 pm, Expoforum was opened after inspections for civilians. We were the first civilians. It was not possible to pass the checkpoint on an accredited car without any problems: it turned out that the test passed the day before, according to the system, was not the same person who now pretended to be our driver. And we had to transfer to another car at the checkpoint, to a new Exeed, whose driver admitted to us at 15:30 that we had been his first customers since eight in the morning. And this did credit, I think, to the organizers: after all, he waited for us, his clients, after all. And for the first time in a long time I felt my need, my demand.

The driver, meanwhile, changed his accreditation in an hour (I personally received it by crossing the threshold of the accreditation center in two and a half minutes), in which everything was now correct: he passed the test, and not someone ambiguous.

On the street in front of the Expoforum buildings there is an exhibition of equipment. This is done especially for Africans. Apparently, it is believed that this can not interest anyone at SPIEF.

Indeed, here is a Rostselmash combine, here is a Kirovets tractor, as well as KamAZ “as a gift to the Republic of Uganda from the Russian Federation” (“Kirovets” seems to be in no hurry to give).

Stands are located in two pavilions. In pavilion “H” – Russian stands. What is striking is what is not at SPIEF (that is, the pavilion of Tatarstan is not striking: it is here in exactly the same form as at SPIEF), that is, the pavilion of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Here everything is explained to those who came, or rather, to the parishioners, in great detail, with the involvement of a large number of photographs. “Patriarchal Exarchate of Africa”. “The Consecration of the Antimensions”. The “Sacrament of Baptism in Cape Town”, as well as the “First Meeting of the Deanery in Burundi” attracts special attention. It explains in detail how and on what grounds “African clerics participate in the restoration of Russian Orthodox churches.” The “Nun Matrona (in the world of Dzhepchirchir)” is captured. Of particular interest is the “First Divine Liturgy in the Togolese Republic”.

Several stands are dedicated to Russian regions. You will not pass by the stand of the Tambov region without taking off your headgear, if you have one. And if not, then just respectfully stand in mournful and respectful silence. The fact is that a huge, full-length, black-and-gray portrait of the composer Sergei Rachmaninov, the son of a native of the region, was made as a tombstone; all formalities are observed: the color of cold sad granite, the epitaph “Play like Rachmaninov” carved on it … The composition is complemented by a monument to Ivan Michurin, who, as you know, was also not indifferent to the earth. Yes, here, at the stand of the Tambov region, there is a small cemetery. Don’t pass by.

But the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation is responsible for the Healthy Life cluster. Here, languid girls are chirping about something.

“Come in,” they call, “we will show you how a woman gives birth!”

There, in the depths of the booth, is indeed a couch, equipped with all sorts of special devices.

– Right now? I ask incredulously.

– Of course, let’s come in! .. Only now … Not right now. Electrician, in short, we are waiting. Need an electrician!

What am I, I agree: of course, every woman needs at least an electrician to give birth. Or at least a plumber.

We walk past the Plant Quarantine Center (they have taken on the plants now), past the stands of large Russian companies such as Almaz-Antey (even the models of its products look like real ones), to the eternal and unchanging stand of the Russian Football Union, standing in the same place as in June, at the economic forum. Then the footballer Alexander Mostovoy was signing autographs here. And it seems, judging by how deserted around him, that he is still offering his services somewhere around here.

On another stand in the corridor there are documents, witnesses of the era. Decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU of June 9, 1965: “On the dispatch of Soviet military specialists to Algeria …” Crossed out: “… by a special board of the Air Force.”

“Accept the proposal of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR and…” (this is crossed out) “Approve the proposed draft Order of the Council of Ministers on this issue… Suslov, Kosygin, Biryukov, Gromyko, Stepanov…”.

And here is the Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense of the Republic of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, sending a telegram “To His Excellency the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union: In the face of the threat hanging over the neutrality of the Republic of the Congo from Belgium and some Western countries that support the Belgian plot against our independence, we ask you to watch the situation in the Congo every hour. We may be forced to ask for the intervention of the Soviet Union if the Western camp does not stop its aggression against the sovereignty of the Republic of the Congo. At the moment, the Congolese state territory is occupied by Belgian troops, and the life of the president and prime minister of the republic is in danger. Translated by M. Busarov.

Yes, we have truly blood ties with Africa. And don’t even try to forget about it. We won’t forget.

Yes, the moment of truth has arrived. Can African countries impose sanctions against Russia? Sounds wild. But they can. However, blood ties must be broken. And until they break. Will they break? It will be revealed, and soon. Just even one of these days.

Africa has its stands here. The largest, Algerian, is also from the time of the SPIEF, where Algeria was represented, as you know, in a brotherly way, at least in a partner way. The rest of the stands are monotonous and small, but this is not counting the stand dedicated to the artists of Africa. The artists are good. Between the paintings there are poems about Africa:

Empty birdhouse,

The birds have flown

Leaves on the trees

It also doesn’t fit.

All day today

Everyone is flying, flying…

Apparently, also in Africa

They want to fly.

Irina Tokmakova.


striped horses,

african horses,

It’s good to play hide and seek

In the meadow among the grass!

Lined horses

Like school notebooks

Painted horses

From hooves to head!

Samuil Marshak.

Reproductions of paintings… Ilya Repin, “Dark-skinned girl”; Konstantin Makovsky, “Egyptian Warrior”…

Deafened by the roar and stomp,

Clothed in flames and smokes,

About you, my Africa, in a whisper

Seraphim speak in heaven…

Nikolai Gumilyov.

And his own drawing: “Palm trees, three elephants and two giraffes”, 1911.

And there’s nothing to add. Except, of course, the lines of Mikhail Lermontov next to the picture:

Further, eternally alien bodies,

Washes the yellow Nile

red-hot steps

Royal graves.

The Bedouin forgot the raids

For colored tents

And sings, counting the stars,

About fathers.

And all of these, of course, are more poignant pavilions than at the SPIEF, with which we have to compare the African Forum and the summit. And even if they are still deserted, but tomorrow will come, which, as always, will change everything.

However, already now I see the light in one conference room and I hasten to this light. People gathered there, and adviser to the President of the Russian Federation Anton Kobyakov was already preparing to present them with awards from the President of the Russian Federation.

Without unnecessary words and prying eyes, in a family way, for the work of organizing everything here.

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