Last week, the southern Russian city of Sochi hosted the World Festival of Youth and Students, with 25,000+ participants (a new record), and some 5000 volunteers, from 180 countries across the world taking part, in this epic event.
The regional part of the youth festival ran from October 14th to 17th, in 15 Russian regions, during which delegations visited 15 cities where participants took part in wide-ranging discussion, cultural and sports programs.
President Putin was there, speaking English even, there were concerts, mass events, and more. All in all, it seems to have been an epic event. I was sorry not to be able to cover it myself, but, committed to Crimea, and finishing my film, it just wasn’t possible. I was more sorry upon learning that seemingly not one other western correspondent had made the perfectly accessible journey to Sochi – a 2 and a bit hour flight from Moscow.
And we all know there is a veritable mass of western correspondents in Moscow. Because they all, for want of a better expression, crawl out from under their stone whenever opposition figure Alexei Navalny (maximum of 10% in the ratings, btw, despite the 100% positive western media coverage) so much as blows his nose. His gatherings typically have about 100 attendees, and 100 western correspondents covering them.
Yet Sochi, seemingly, with little prospect of finding anything negative to report there, the masses of Moscow-based western correspondents clearly didn’t deem it worth the plane fare. I can only apologise again myself for not going, if I’d really thought that not one western correspondent would go to cover this, I’dve had to go. But, live and learn, in this case not to expect even the minimum of the western press in covering Russia.