Prime Minister of Italy Romano Prodi will visit Sochi for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 23rd. Main topic of their discussion will be bilateral economic relations, including energy.

Sochi has always hosted presidential “summer residence”, however only with President Putin our city became more then President’s “dacha“, and now, at times, looking like a center of world politics. If you follow Russia’s news, you’ll know that Moscow isn’t the only place Putin meets his foreign colleagues. For example G8 Summit was in St. Petersburg, and economic talks with Germany were in Ekaterinburg (Ural region), but I think Sochi beat them all. Only last year, Putin met here with leaders of Germany, France, Spain, the Palestinian Authority, and presidents of CIS countries. Russia-EU summit last year was also in Sochi. Working meetings with other members of Russian government are often held here.

The St. Petersburg Times has an article on this “Sochi Emerges as New Kremlin“, and lists following fact: “…the president, who is now in the Black Sea resort at his Bocharov Ruchei retreat, had spent 49 days there this year. By comparison, he spent just 40 days lolling about in the sun in 2005, and only 24 days in 2004.”

But here what all this means for all the “little people” in Sochi:

[+] main roads are kept in good conditions (roads in Russia is a separate story)
[—] sitting in traffic for extensive periods of time

As they say in the article I mentioned above, Putin travels by air when in Sochi (its common knowledge there). But it looks like everyone else he meets here likes to drive. And since there’s only one highway connecting Adler (where airport is) with Sochi (Center) and everything in between, it means all traffic from Adler to Center has to stop and wait for “guests” to pass. Its a major pain in the butt for local residents and tourists alike, just imagine sitting or standing in a packed bus or sitting in “marshrutka” (“mini bus” – full size van) while its 40 degrees C and sun is burning through the windows… NOT FUN! And good luck getting into a public transport for the next couple of hours after the roads are reopened… all transport is packed. Seriously, if you’ve heard that someone’s coming to the city to meet with the President – don’t go out to town that day, go to the beach! :)


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