The Russian city of Yekaterinburg is beefing up security measures and making final preparations for the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the first meeting of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) leaders.
Yekaterinburg, located on the eastern side of the Ural mountain range, is braced for the arrival of the SCO leaders who will begin on Monday to discuss a range of issues including regional security and cooperation to tackle the global financial crisis.
About 42,000 police will be deployed in the city to ensure the security of the leaders, according to Valentin Kuzmin, chief of Social Security Police in the Ural region of Sverdlovsk. Yekaterinburg is the administrative center of Sverdlovsk.
Giant banners featuring the SCO and BRIC summits are seen in major streets across Yekaterinburg as Russia's third largest city after Moscow and St. Petersburg tightens up security measures and traffic control ahead of the summits.
The airport and the city shall be under a stepped-up surveillance, Kuzmin said. Motorists and pedestrians are not allowed to come near the Hyatt hotel, where the talks will be held. Local residents and visitors should bring their passports with them during the summit days for security concerns, he added.
The summit also draws international attention. The International Press Center has been open around the clock since Sunday to host about 800 registered domestic and foreign journalists, organizers said.
The SCO summit is one of the biggest events during Russia's one-year presidency. Yekaterinburg began to prepare for the summit as early as two years ago.
The federal and local governments had invested about 4 billion U.S. dollars in improving infrastructure, including the renovation of the meeting venue and the airport.
The SCO, a regional organization founded in 2001 in Shanghai, includes China, Russia and four Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The regional organization also groups four observers, namely Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Iran.
Besides the SCO summit, Yekaterinburg will also host the first official meeting of BRIC leaders.
The term, coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill in 2003, refers to the four emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
The first meeting of BRIC leaders, slated for Monday following the SCO summit, will discuss such issues as cooperation amid economic crisis and reform of the global financial system.
The four countries account for 42 percent of the world's population, 14.6 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and 12.8 percent of the global trade volume in 2008.
E.Rossel, governor of the Sverdlovsk region, said the SCO and BRIC summits, which are held for the first time in the region, are "unique in its importance and responsibility for us."
During the two summits' time, Yekaterinburg will also present a high-driving cultural program, including a gala concert and ballet to show its friendliness and distinguished cultural charm to the region's guests, Rossel said.