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Russia's far east eyes development at APEC meetings (3)

(China Daily)

13:22, September 06, 2012

"Center of the world"

Local artists fantasized at the start of the last century about a bridge that would connect two remote districts of Vladivostok, but the project remained a dream until Putin found $500 million in the budget to build it.

"Only now are we starting to live. We are creating a European city. The center of the world is here!" enthused Vladivostok's mayor, Igor Pushkaryov, in a conversation with this reporter on the bridge, just as fog started to roll in.

The center of Vladivostok is quiet of an evening, but is at least well lit - in contrast to the murk of the 1990s when the city was plagued by power cuts. Laser cannons mounted atop the bridge pylons play against the night sky. But the foreign eateries and cafes that dot cities in Russia's European heartland, like McDonalds and Starbucks, are nowhere to be seen.

Eyeing a second term, the 37-year-old former businessman hopes that the attention of Russia's leaders will not fade after the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit this weekend: "We really want this relationship to continue. We are happy people - we did it!"

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