Thousands of officials and executives will gather in person in St Petersburg this week – and President Vladimir Putin will give a speech – as the annual economic forum Moscow pitches as “the Russian Davos” returns despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
For years, Russia has used the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) to try to attract foreign investment, discuss economic policy and project an image that it is open for business. It was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, but is back on, with the title “Together Again”.
A negative COVID-19 test is required to access the venue, which will be disinfected, with doors and elevators cleaned once every two hours. Attendees will be expected to wear masks and gloves, which are typically required in public places in Russia.
On Tuesday, St Petersburg reported 817 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours and 38 deaths.
The pace of vaccination in Russia has so far been slower than in many developed countries, even though Russia has been exporting its own vaccine, Sputnik V. The health minister said last week around 17 million of Russia’s 144 million people had received at least one dose.