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Russia's far east eyes development at APEC meetings (2)

(China Daily)

13:22, September 06, 2012

Construction workers are seen on the newly built bridge across the Golden Horn bay in Russia's far-eastern port of Vladivostok, Aug 9, 2012. (Photo/China Daily)

Now, Russia has pumped $21 billion into its eastern seaboard to attract investors, tourists and gamblers from Asia, and persuade locals to halt the drift away from a city that, for all the grand designs, remains largely isolated from the rest of the world's largest country.

Putin, 59, underscored a strategic pivot away from crisis-hit Europe to the rising economies of the Pacific rim by creating a government department for developing Russia's far east after his return to the Kremlin for a third term in May.

But in Vladivostok, a city of 600,000 where the clocks run seven hours ahead of Moscow, the injection of capital has done little to lift the low regard in which many locals hold the leader who has dominated Russia since 2000.

Although the city - whose name translates as 'Ruler of the East' - has received a makeover, with a new airport, bridges and highway intersections, residents say inflated contracts were won by insiders and the money would have been better spent on social services and housing.

"I don't associate it with Putin. They took ages to get round to building the bridge," said 28-year-old biologist Yevgeny Skorkin, joining thousands of people on a mass stroll last month over the new bridge across the Zolotoi Rog (Golden Horn) inlet that opens up a vista across the city's port and the ships of Russia's Pacific Fleet in the harbour.

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