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Petersburg, the total net exhibition space for RUEFexhibitions is 918,800sqm. This is almost two-thirds ofthe country's total exhibition space."These two cities attract just over half of all Russianexhibitions, and are in the lead by the number ofparticipants with 54,860 companies," says Alexeev.Although Moscow and St Petersburg are the twoobvious exhibition choices to someone outside Russialooking in, there are also many regional centres wherethe exhibition industry is seen as a significant part oftheir economy. These include Kaliningrad, Samara andothers.Crocus International Exhibition Centre is by far thebiggest venue in the RUEF. Standing in Krasnogorskoutside Moscow, it boasts 266,400sqm of exhibition space.Assistant director of Crocus IEC, Maria Tikhonova,says the crisis has not had a dramatic effect onbusiness. The venue added 11 new projects to itsportfolio in 2009 and although there has been a slightdecrease in overall performance, the outlook isoptimistic. The venue welcomed more than 1.2 millionvisitors last year.Other venues in and around Moscow include the All-Russia Exhibition Centre with 132,700sqm, Expocentrewith 85,000sqm, and MVK with33,000sqm of indoor space.According to Elena Tarasova,spokesman for organiserPrimexpo in St Petersburg,the infrastructure isunderdeveloped, especiallyin the more remote parts ofthe country not associatedwith a big city. "The exhibition industry is areflection of the situation in theeconomy and the global crisishas meant changes," she says."The past year hasforced manycompaniesto changetheirmarketingpolicies.Exhibition World | Country Profile17The Russian economy was one of the hardest-hitin the 2008/09 global economic crisis, as oilprices plummeted and the foreign credits thatRussian banks and firms relied upon dried up. Duringthe recession, the country spent one third of itsUSD$600bn international reserves, the world's thirdlargest, in late 2008 to slow the devaluation of therouble.The Russian exhibition industry, faithfully reflectingthe market, also lost ground. The slowdowncompounded existing problems not so much in theexhibition hub of Moscow but in the more remotedistricts of the country.Venues and organisers in the more sparsely-populated regions of the country face not only theaftershocks of the economic downturn, but a lack ofproper infrastructure, unenthusiastic or non-existentsupport from local governments, as well as the simple logistical drawback of being half a continentaway from potential clients. After all, although Russia isa single country, it covers one-ninth of the planet'ssurface."The number of exhibitions conducted in Russia hasbeen severely affected by the reduction of businessactivity as a result of the recession," says SergeiAlexeev (pictured right), president of the RussianUnion of Exhibitions and Fairs (RUEF), director generalof St Petersburg's Lenexpo and member of the UFIboard of directors.However, the economic hurdles faced by exhibitionorganisers worldwide are not the only problems in theRussian market. "At present the Russian exhibitionmarket is facing a number of specific problems," saysAlexeev. "These include problems within the industrysuch as unfair competition, exhibition duplication,counterfeit and others."In terms of international problems, we can see a lowpost-crisis recovery in other countries, which has arestraining effect on the foreign participation inRussian exhibitions. International competition growsstronger year after year, and Russia takes all measuresto improve the country's image in the eyes of the worldbusiness community."According to the RUEF, Moscow is the biggest playerin the Russian exhibition market. Together with StPulling together EWspeaks to Russian exhibition centres and organisers to get a taste of how thecountry is struggling with a lack of needed infrastructure and local governmentsupport in the aftermath of the worldwide recession.THE MAGAZINE FOR THE GLOBAL EXHIBITION COMMUNITY WWW.EXHIBITION-WORLD.NET| September 2010|