Russia: Vladivostok's Golden Horn Bay Bridge Controversy

Center of Vladivostok and Zolotoy Rog, photo by Vladimir Kobzar

Center of Vladivostok and Zolotoy Rog, photo by Vladimir Kobzar

On September 8, 2010, Vladivostok city administration announced [RUS] an open discussion about the name of a new bridge over Golden Horn (“Zolotoy Rog“) Bay. The bridge will connect two parts of the city and allegedly help the traffic. Also, there will be the second bridge that will connect the city and the closest island.

These ambitious and expensive projects are part of the preparation process for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, which will take place in Vladivostok in 2012. The budget for this event is huge, but not much has been done yet. Only two years are left and the bridges are not even halfway done. Vladivostok citizens have reasons to suspect that the two gigantic bridges will never be built on time and the money will vanish in someone’s pocket, thus leaving the city without the necessary infrastructure.

On his blog, Vladivostok's mayor Igor Pushkarev provided [RUS] a possibility for users to vote for the favorable name of the bridge over the bay. People could choose out of 30 names. The following names were the most remarkable ones: Hope Bridge, Golden Bridge, Zolotoy Rog (Golden Horn, after the name of the bay), Darkin’s Bridge (after the name of the current governor), Far Eastern Bridge, etc.

Blogger hiamado wondered [RUS] why there was no such a name as Kickback Bridge (“откатный мост” in Russian), alluding to various corruption cases tied to the summit preparation process.

APEC preparation became a subject for countless jokes both in the regional blogosphere and offline. Local bloggers have created an alternative list of names for the bridge. In April 2010, even before an open discussion was announced, blogger matvienko_vlc provided his critical evaluation of the initiative. He gave examples of alternative names for the bridge taken from various bloggers. Here are some of the examples:

«Мост Бесценный», «Мост Мы-б…-уже-и-не-надеялись», «Путинский», […], «Мост в светлое будущее», «Медвепуть» («Путинпровод»), […], «Откатный» (вариант — «Золотой откат»), «Ворота в ад», «Хайшеньвей-бридж».

Bridge Priceless, Bridge We-Were-About-To-Lose-Hope-Already-Dammit, Putin Bridge, Bridge to the Bright Future, Medveput (Putinway), Golden Kickback Bridge, Gates to Hell, Hǎishēnwǎi Bridge [this is how the Chinese call Vladivostok]

These mocking names reflect the attitude of ordinary people towards the government and the whole idea of the APEC Summit.

On Sept. 20, a daily news outlet Novosti Vladivostoka (News of Vladivostok) informed [RUS] that citizens of Vladivostok could monitor the construction works via publications on a blog called churkinsky_most (Churkin Bridge). According to the article, this blog provides the latest information on the maintenance works for the APEC Summit. In reality the blog gives an idea of how this bridge will look like by providing computer-generated images (like this one or this). Not much is written there about the real situation and problems on the construction sites.

An accurate image of the bridge construction works is provided by bloggers hajoff and zeka_vasch in the Vladivostok city LJ community. There you can find pictures of the construction sites and of the houses that have to be destroyed to clear the space. At the same time, it is unclear what will happen to the people who live in these houses.

Unfortunately, all the people’s dissatisfaction and distrust is being totally ignored by the local government. Luckily enough, people react to these issues and share their views and stories on blogs. Voting for the bridge’s name will be over in mid-October. Of course, the name Golden Kickback Bridge was not on the list, even though it reflects the nature of this initiative better than any other name.

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