The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit is being held in Russia for the first time, and preparations are in full swing in host city Vladivostok.
The group, made up of Pacific Rim countries, tries to promote free trade and economic cooperation between its 21 members.
One notable absence this year is US President Barack Obama, who will not be at this weekend’s gathering. Obama is currently fighting a re-election campaign and it is the first time a US president has not attended in 14 years.
At the insistence of Russian president Vladimir Putin, the eastern port city of Vladivostok was chosen ahead of Moscow or St Petersburg.
Millions of euros have been spent on revamping Vladivostok with projects including new motorways, two bridges and an airport. Many locals are pleased with the improvements.
“At least we can benefit from some repairs made to the city. The potholes in roads are being fixed and now we can go fishing and relax at the bridge to Russky Island,” said Vladivostok resident Igor.
“A lot of money has been spent, and I think a lot has been stolen too – which usually happens. But it’s always been that way, and always will. It’s normal,” added Anna, who also lives in the city.
Inflated contracts being given to insiders is one complaint, and some say the money would have been better spent on social services and housing, but last-minute finishing touches to the city continue, including grass being painted green.
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