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No filter: Moscow leads quest to show Russia in new light

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
By Abhishek Hore

Moscow: From the tree-lined grand boulevards to its ornate underground train stations, to the monolithic-looking suburbs, Moscow is illuminating and Moscovites are at the forefront of a quest to show Russia "in a new light", unfiltered by news stories.

They are eager to show their breathtakingly beautiful city to the world, befittingly enough, through the 'Beautiful Game's' quadrennial showpiece.

For some, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, starting Thursday, is President Vladimir Putin's equivalent of China's 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. And the hosts are waiting for their guests as they seek to present their motherland in a different light, without the Soviet era stereotypes, without the haunting stories of the past, told and retold by her adversaries to define the country, whose map was torn apart by history.

"FIFA World Cup means people from all over the world will converge here. They will stay here and know about Russia and go back with a different image. The perception will change and the spectators will see it in a different light,” a local said, two days before the start of the tournament.

Unfortunately enough, observers say there has been no equivalent of the PR campaign witnessed prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics, what with the local media playing down the World Cup due to the national team's rapid decline in fortunes.

For a city gearing up to host one of the world's biggest sporting events, the initial build-up had been a bit subdued, but it gathered steam as the tournament's dates approached.

Thousands of foreign journalists are set to descend on the country for the one-month extravaganza.

Many writers and photographers from countries, which are not even part of the tournament, are already at work. But that's how it has always been – such is the allure of FIFA World Cup.

The lure is not lost on Russia and even the recent failures of Sbornaya, as the national team is called, have failed to dampen its spirit as far as successfully organising the tournament is concerned.
 

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