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World Cup’s spirit of openness rubs off on some Russians

MOSCOW/NIZHNY NOVGOROD (Reuters) – The World Cup has been an eye-opener for Russian waitress Lena Tikhomirova: mingling with visiting followers and experiencing new cultures has whetted her curiosity and now she plans to reside overseas.

A younger lady holds a Russian flag in Red Square, Moscow, Russia, July three, 2018. As effectively as capturing all of the matches, Reuters photographers are producing footage displaying their very own quirky view from the sidelines of the World Cup. REUTERS/John Sibley

“I love Russia. I love Nizhny Novgorod. But …. I want to meet new people and study in another country, that would be so cool,” stated the 21-year-old.

Before the World Cup, every day life in Russia was characterised by surly desk service, dour appears to be like, unhelpful road indicators and the way little residents appear to smile in public or converse to strangers.

Police are sometimes seen as unhelpful, extra related to stopping migrant employees for doc checks or fining residents for crossing the road within the mistaken place or ingesting beer open air.

During the event, that modified. Russians have taken satisfaction as throngs of international followers have reveled in a ambiance of cosmopolitan openness and laissez-faire policing that has washed over the event’s eleven host cities.

“It has changed a lot in my life, my attitude toward foreigners,” she stated. “It seems to me the city has changed too. This place is more cheerful now, it is lively. The people enjoy it and smile,” stated Tikhomirova.

The change left many guests with a constructive impression of Russia, but in addition, for a lot of Russians themselves it has engineered a refined change in society.

For the artist group, the World Cup has been like an “emotional adventure” that’s influencing and permeating native artwork, stated gallery proprietor Georgy Smirnov in Nizhny Novgorod.

Graffiti murals have sprung up across the metropolis, whereas the event has impressed underground artists like Egor and Seva of the TOY artwork collective to color a collection of football-themed work for an exhibition at Smirnov’s gallery.

“I think the (World Cup) will affect the whole country and people’s attitudes and conscience will change,” stated Egor, chatting with digicam in a balaclava as a result of of previous run-ins with the police.


Police on the World Cup have been lenient as authorities have sought to indicate visiting followers that Russia is secure and safe, but in addition open and welcoming.

Moscow has been the scene of late-night, boozy road partying centered round a pedestrian thoroughfare stretching from Red Square to the previous KGB headquarters now run by the Federal Security Service (FSB).

The lenient policing towards alcohol consumption on the street has bemused many. A video shared on social media reveals a Russian man holding a can of beer in a road toasting law enforcement officials, asking them if he’ll have the ability to in a position to proceed ingesting on the road after the World Cup.

Some rights activists who opposed Russia internet hosting the World Cup as a result of of its human rights file now discover themselves extra ambivalent, praising what they describe because the unusually smooth contact of the police.

“I was against holding the World Cup here but I can see how much of a celebration this is for people so I think probably it was a good thing,” stated Svetlana Gannushkina, a rights advocate who works with migrants and refugees.

Gannushkina spoke to Reuters throughout a soccer event by the Kremlin partitions put on specifically for document-less migrants who are sometimes focused by police on the metro. She stated police have been unusually “kind and polite” all through the event.

“The police are handling themselves decently toward everyone,” she stated, including nonetheless that she had “no hope” it could stay like this within the long-term.

As the event attracts to an in depth forward of the ultimate on Sunday, some have already got a wistful air of nostalgia.

“We will never see something like this in our life again,” stated Konstantin Pechyonov, an aged guitar-strumming busker in Nizhny Novgorod. “Unfortunately, the party is coming to an end.”

Additional reporting by Alexander Reshetnikov in Nizhny Novgorod; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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