Global crisis kills off Russian Winter Festival in London

The event, which used to gather an assortment of officials, business leaders and socialites attracted by the prospect of enjoying a full day of fun, free entertainment and a taste of Russian delights, has been cancelled because of the global financial crisis.
"This is due to the repercussions of the crisis, a shortage of sponsor funds," said Yury Fedotov, Russian ambassador to Britain.

The first Russian Winter Festival took place in 2005, and was hosted by Eventica, an international provider of a broad range of services encompassing marketing, corporate branding, event production, publishing and media communications. The event was supported by the Russian British Cultural Association, and the Moscow and London city halls.

Trafalgar Square hosted kiosks offering Russian arts and crafts and others selling vodka, pancakes and caviar. Russian and British guests enjoyed live pop and rock music while eating and drinking.

"The festival was a powerful tool in improving Russia's image in Britain, which became crucial after the death of [former intelligence agent Alexander] Litvinenko [in London in November 2006] and similar adverse factors in Russian-British relations," said Eventica chairman Sergei Kolushev.

"RWF is an expensive event," he admitted citing such costs as leasing the area, cleaning up, paying actors, arranging visas, hotels, and flights, adding up to $500,000 every year.

He said Russian LUKoil, Gazprom and several major banks had been among the sponsors, but they have their own plates too full to bother with foreign cultural fests. "I am not keen on paying my own money, not when I cannot be sure I will get my money back from other projects," he added.

Mr. Fedotov suggested moving the event to a later date - for example, to March 1, the last day of the Russian Pancake Week, and maybe "setting a new tradition."

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